Thursday, 18 June 2015

Book Review: Sweet on Wilde by Fabiola Francisco

Eight months ago, bakery-owner Savannah made a deal with her best friend, Emily. If either of them was still single eight months down the line, they would sign up for online dating. Typically, since then Emily found herself a boyfriend, leaving Savannah to brave the world of online dating alone.

But Savannah wasn’t counting on meeting a guy at her local bar after a disaster date. Southern boy Parker Wilde turns out to be everything Savannah wanted. He brings out the best in her and understands the worst. He even makes her believe in love again.

But when Parker is offered the job of his dreams and their lives take different directions, will being sweet on Wilde remain enough for Savannah?

Image credit: Fabiola Francisco
I was sent an ARC of Sweet on Wilde in exchange for an honest review. So having said that, I wish I could say I liked it more than I did. I didn’t dislike it, but similarly it’s far from joining the select few books that have managed to reach my prestigious ‘favourites’ shelf on Goodreads.

My main problem concerned the plot, or rather the lack of it.

Nothing much happened till way past the middle of the book (and at 283 pages, it was no short story or novella either). It wasn’t even particularly character-led. Basically, the whole plot consisted of just ‘this happens, then that happens’ – there was no real action or conflict. The main conflict was Parker’s move to Atlanta for the new job, which happened about 75% of the way through the book and got resolved within approximately 5%!

Having said all that, however, I did like the characters. Both Savannah and Parker were realistic and relatable three dimensional characters – real people, not just fictional characters. To give credit where it’s due, Fabiola Francisco is great at creating lifelike and approachable characters.

Nevertheless, at certain points in the story characters seemed to have complete U-turns within the space of a few pages. For example, to paraphrase Parker: ‘I can’t take the job, I won’t leave you, my home is Tuscaloosa now.’ Then the next day – ‘I’m taking the job’. The parts like that were just too contradictory to be entirely believable, because if you’re that set on one thing, nothing could make you change your mind that drastically, that quickly.

I also didn’t really like how Francisco would spend ages describing one thing, like a particular date, but would then suddenly jump ahead a week and dump you straight back into the story at that point with no prior warning. That got a bit disorienting after a while. There were also parts where the dialogue and turn of phrase made me wonder if it was written in a second language, or just poorly edited.

Image credit: Fabiola Francisco
As it turned out, I have to wonder if the whole set-up with the online dating business was really necessary. It didn’t really end up adding to the story at all because Savannah could have just met Parker at Southern anyway, without all the online dating set-up. I also found myself questioning why every single person they knew seemed to be supportive of them. Whatever Savannah did, everyone she came into contact with seemed to be proud of her, urging her to follow her dreams. This goes back to my main point – this book needed more conflict. We needed a villain, but there was no-one there. Everything just fell perfectly, unrealistically, into place and all reasoning and logistics flew straight out of the window.

However, (without giving away any spoilers) I’m a sucker for a happy fairytale ending. You know the sort: ‘and then they got married and lived happily ever after’. It’s cliché and definitely over-used but I don’t care – fairytale endings are feel-good and inspiring, and fill you with hope for your own life.

Speaking of clichés, the concept of a main character with dead parents is getting a bit tired now. It’s not new anymore and it didn’t add anything to the story. Savannah’s relationship with her grandma was sweet, but her parents didn’t need to be dead in order for it to be included.

Another thing the author did well was to perfectly capture the feelings of a long-distance relationship. The feelings of loneliness, irrational jealousy, always waiting… they were all there, and used well. Though I have to say, it annoyed me a little because long-distance relationships are never as easy to change as Savannah made them out to be.

Basically, if you want an easy, relaxed, feel-good read (this would be a perfect holiday read for the beach!) this is the book for you. Or if you have a thing for charming Southern guys, then you should definitely read it! But if you want something with a bit more pace, action, and plot, then I’d give it a miss.

Rating: 3 stars.

Image credit: Fabiola Francisco
Sweet on Wilde is available to buy now.

Will you be reading Sweet on Wilde? Let me know in the comments below!

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