Back in 2013 I was invited to participate in the judging of the longlist for the Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance. (It was renamed the Melissa Nathan Award for Fiction About Life and Love, which is not the most snappiest of titles). The book I championed did not actually make the shortlist, (despite the author having done so on a couple of previous occasions) but it is the one from the list I read that has stayed with me so I think it’s worth telling you about it.
Despite a previous novel of hers being called “Summer Loving”, this was not published as part of a series but is a stand- alone novel which I felt might actually be held back by its generic title and “holiday romance” cover as I thought it was a better book than that. Flora combines a working trip to placate nightmare clients for the relocation company she works for with a holiday and the discovery that her boyfriend is dumping her leads to a reunion with her cousin (an Agnetha in an Abba tribute band). The whole thing is light, very readable and a very successful example of this kind of book. The San Francisco setting works well, giving it almost an Armistead Maupin feel. There’s a good sense of community spirit in a sub-plot when a group of characters aim to keep a parade of shops open. I did think this actually does have the legs to become a series. I liked the characters and would like to know how they got on. I was disappointed that this title did not make the shortlist (the eventual recipient of the prize was Maria Semple for “Where’d You Go To Bernadette”, which I haven’t got round to reading yet).