Wednesday, 26 February 2014 / No comments

Review: This is Now - Maggie Gilbert

This Is NowThis Is Now by Maggie Gilbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley.

The first thing that interested me about this book is the title. It reminded me of SE Hinton's That Was Then, This Is Now, and there are some similarities, in that the main character in both books are trying to escape from the poverty and hopelessness that surround them and make something more of their lives.

The book is billed as a Cinderella story, and that it is, although it bears far more resemblance to another Cinderella inspired story, Pretty Woman. The author even makes mention of the film, and there is more than one scene that is immediately reminiscent of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.

Jess and her family live in a run down area of Sydney. The type of place you wouldn't want to leave your car for fear of it being pinched, and where people driving slowly past the houses are probably looking to do a drug deal. She knows only to buy drinks in bottles in nightclubs, and not to put them down for fear of having them tampered with. She is a very real and down to earth character.

Not content with the life her brothers and mother seem to have settled on for her, Jess is going to TAFE (like a community college) in order to get her high school certificate in the hope of going to university and having a real career.

On a night out with her sort-of-friend Anna, Jess meets Anna's brother, Sebastien. Jess is instantly struck by Sebastien's model looks and prodigious talent. Sebastien seems just as enamoured with Jess, but she can't believe he honestly feels the same way; after all, he's rich beyond her dreams, what could he possibly see in her?

Gilbert creates a truly 3-dimensional character in Jess. Not all of the characters are so well developed. The romance between Jess and Sebastien develops rather predictably, but it's no less enjoyable for that. There are some kissing scenes that will make you blush. These two are hot together. And who doesn't love a cello? That is one sexy instrument.

Inevitably class differences threaten to get in the way of their relationship, and it looks like Jess might end up working in her friend's hairdressing salon after all, rather than pursuing her dream of becoming an architect. Will their love be enough to overcome the obstacles between them?

This is Now is quite different from most of the New Adult titles out there. It's refreshing to get a uniquely Australian take on the genre. Jess is no virginal college student, she's a street-smart young woman trying to escape the benefits trap her family is stuck in. Her journey is interesting enough to keep you turning pages to find out whether she eventually prevails.

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