Title: Never Say No
Author: Elizabeth Neep
Publication date: September 4, 2020
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Summary: Vivian Jones has it all: top female London divorce lawyer, marital bliss, and a perfect home life. Hailey Kidd wants to be just like her and is thrilled to be one of her two trainees after switching into law from teaching. Her boyfriend, Dom, and best friend, Sophie, though, are less thrilled as Hailey suddenly has no time for them. They say the grass is always greener, and Hailey definitely agrees, but, when her personal and professional lives clash, she’s in for a rude awakening.
The Plot: The Other Side is Not Always Better
I can’t decide if this book is better summed up with “the grass is always greener” or “you always want what you can’t have”. Or maybe they’re the same. Either way, both fit the novel perfectly. Hailey wants something and is striving for it, but, when she gets to the other side, it isn’t quite as she expected. This is a novel about one woman finding her true self while making a number of mistakes along the way.
Hailey is a former teacher nearing her thirtieth birthday, though she has to plan her best friend’s first. Switching to law after reading an article about the wildly successful Vivian Jones, she’s thrilled to be one of two trainees the only female partner in the firm has taken on. At first, Daniel, the other trainee, gets all of Vivian’s attention no matter how hard Hailey works, no matter how many hours Hailey puts in. Instead, she attracts the attention of Liam, an entirely too charming older lawyer about to be voted partner.
Meanwhile, Hailey’s friend Sophie just wants Hailey to make time to train for a marathon with her and be a sounding board when it comes to her disastrous dating life and Hailey’s boyfriend Dom just wants her to make time for him instead of rushing off whenever work calls. It’s frustrating to Hailey, especially once she witnesses Vivian doing something she shouldn’t be, catching Vivian’s attention and thrusting Hailey into the glittering life of Vivian Jones. Everything is roses and she’s finally getting everything she wanted, but it comes at a price that might be too high for her to pay.
Billed as perfect for fans of The Devil Wears Prada it definitely delivers in terms of a demanding boss and a young woman wanting to fit in. But it also fell short as Hailey blatantly ignored her friend and boyfriend in favor of people that had her starry eyed, and she only found redemption when everything went up in flames. As women’s fiction, I liked that it had a high powered woman and thrust Hailey into a fast-paced business-oriented lifestyle, but the story didn’t have much to endear itself. It painted Hailey as self-absorbed and I was annoyed when she so willingly turned her back on the very people who always had her back.
The Characters: Self-Absorbed
The problem mostly lies with Hailey. Initially likable as she tries and works really hard to make her dreams reality, as she does her job as a good friend and girlfriend, she quickly turns into something of a monster. She becomes like Vivian Jones, willing to step on others to get what she wants. She also turns her back on the very people supporting her, the people who need her as much as they are asking her to need them. Honestly, I felt like slapping her for most of the book as she’s drawn more and more into the glittery lifestyle.
Hailey might not have been perfect, but neither were most of the other characters. They came across as self-absorbed in their own ways, especially the people at the law firm. But Sophie and Dom weren’t perfect, either. They felt like they were either holding Hailey back and trying to keep her from evolving and growing, or painting themselves as victims when work kept her busy. Still, I could understand their viewpoints as Hailey flat out refused them in favor of work, but it also felt like they were too willing to turn their backs to her when this trainee position was only to last 4 months.
The only redeeming character was Daniel. Initially, Hailey’s rival for Vivian’s attention, it’s understandable that Hailey should hate him and want to bring him down. He seems cocky and perfect and hits all the right notes in the firm. But, the longer they work together, the more Hailey notices about him. His subplot turned out to be quite sweet and innocent, a breath of fresh air in an otherwise suffocating novel.
The Setting: Glittering London
But I have to admit it was fun to run around London a bit. I think the reader spends more time in the law offices, but it was also fun to pretend to be wealthy and slip into all the glitz and glamour of Vivian’s life. From exclusive clubs to estates, this book delivered in terms of glamour and wealth. It was almost breathtaking with the amount of wealth on display. At the same time, I missed out on a lot of the iconic places in London. Sure, there was the Thames and London Bridge, but it was mostly high class places that may or may not actually exist. It was fun to pretend to be wealthy, but it left a lot to be desired. I almost forgot it takes place in London quite a few times. Maybe it was the reference to The Devil Wears Prada, but I kept thinking Never Say No took place in New York City.
Overall: Not Quite For Me
Never Say No isn’t a terrible book; it just wasn’t quite for me. I did like The Devil Wears Prada about ten years ago, but this didn’t quite do it for me. Or maybe I don’t remember the movie accurately as I could never bring myself to read the book. But Never Say No felt too self-absorbed and I got the feeling the characters were more interested in playing with each other and drinking than actually doing something good and useful. Still, the characters weren’t cardboard but 3D living, breathing people I could believe and the story actually moved at a decent pace. It just didn’t reveal too much good in most of the characters.
Great if you enjoy: strong female characters, questionable morals, high powered careers in women’s fiction, focus on one character, light romance
Not great if you’re looking for: endearing characters, London, focus on female friendships, romance
How many cups of tea will you need?
3 cups should do
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Thank you to Netgalley and Bookcouture for a free e-copy. All opinions expressed are my own.