Title: It Felt Like a Kiss
Author: Sarra Manning
Publisher: Random House UK/ Transworld Publishers
Release Date: 30th January 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Chick Lit
Page Count: 576 (paperback)
This review contains marked spoilers. Highlight over the words to read the spoiler.
Ellie Cohen is a straightest of the straight good British girl types you’ll find: her only vices are occasionally drinking too much and attracting ‘lame duck’ boyfriends – boys who need her help to overcome their issues, then dump her for better prospects. Ellie is also the secret lovechild of a famous UK rock star, and has never met him, and never even mentions his name. Her life is completely turned upside down when one of the lame ducks, desperate for money, steals proof of Ellie’s dad’s identity and sells it to the tabloids.
I loved It Felt Like a Kiss. I’d previously read Manning’s Adorkable and found her writing to be full of British jargon, which I love because I lived there for a couple of years, and her characters to be so utterly realistic I fall head over heels for them. I loved Ellie in it Felt Like a Kiss because she reminded me so much of myself – she was a ‘good girl’ who never asked for help, never took a pound off anyone, struggled through school, kept her secret, worked her way up to a cushy job, and often gets accused of ex-boyfriends of being high strung, uptight, and in need of relaxing. That last part hit a little raw spot in me. In high school, I was the ‘good girl’ while all my friends were smoking and having sex and experimenting with drugs and alcohol. To this day I’ve never been drunk, and I was never invited to a high school party. I could identify with Ellie being a ‘good girl’.
I’m also particularly shy and I’m the sort of person who’s not afraid to say they don’t want to be famous. I don’t really like attention, and even the idea of my upcoming wedding gives me a panic attack because I’ll be the centre of attention on the day. So I could also identify with Ellie’s absolute horror at suddenly being thrust unwillingly into the spotlight when the identity of her father is leaked to the press, with paparazzi clambering all over her, desperate for a photo that will sell papers, twisting her words and making up outrageous lies in the hopes of selling, selling, selling. Scandal! Outrage! Secrets! In the public’s interest! Well, not the last one. But I really felt so sorry for Ellie being hounded and dogged and practically assaulted while she just wants to live her normal life and earn enough money for her own flat.
I loved her relationship with her mother, Ari, who was also the victim of the tabloids who claimed Ellie was the result of a one-night stand and Ari was obsessed with the rockstar and persistently stalked him for money and fame, when the complete opposite was true. Ari was a strong kick ass rock chick who wanted nothing to do with the father who’d dumped her and her three month old daughter out of jealousy that Ari could love someone else besides him, and to top it off he’d stolen the songs she’d written that went on to make him famous. Ari had a strong Jewish family who loved and accepted her and that love enveloped Ellie as well. Ellis never ‘needed’ her father because her life was overflowing with love and support from her family. I loved the way Ellie and Ari interacted and spoke to each other, and supported each other. It’s definitely a relationship I find inspiring.
I wasn’t so much into David, Ellie’s new love interest and complicated because he was the rockstar’s lawyer. I liked him because he was described as tall, skinny yet fit with great hair, so I kept imagining David Tennant in my head. I didn’t like how his goals didn’t always align with Ellie’s and he had all these different motivations and he wasn’t very nice to Ellie. I found him incredibly realistic, but I just didn’t like him. In the end [highlight for spoiler] he totally redeemed himself, but for the longest time I really didn’t see what Ellie saw in him besides incredible sexual attraction.
I was intrigued by the entire plot and loved following Ellie around. I loved the build up to the climax when Ellie [highlight for spoiler] finally met her half-sisters and I like to think she’d become friends with Rose. I loved how Ellie realised she didn’t need the rockstar in her life and had the integrity to turn down half a million pounds to go back to her art gallery career. I especially loved how Ari’s story also got closure. The rockstar was never portrayed as a loving kind of guy: he was a serial cheater and completely self-centered. I was pleased with the resolution.
Apparently Vaughan and Grace are the centre of another Manning book called Unsticky. Unfortunately, although I liked Grace’s cameos, I was not thrilled with Vaughan – in fact, I barely tolerated him and found him completely unlikeable. Therefore I will not be reading Unsticky – but I sure as hell will be reading other Manning books. She’s a literary rockstar and I adore her.
I just want to add that Goodreads seems to think the paperback is over 500 pages long – it didn’t feel like that at all, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and found the pages flipping pretty fast.
Thanks to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers and Netgalley for providing this advanced reader copy for an honest review.