Rated Reads

Mad Love

by Nick Spalding

Rated: High

Online dating site Sociality decides to run the promotion to end all promotions: put two people together from registered users and marry them. The lucky winners will get not only the perfect match for life, but will get a year in a gorgeous West London apartment, a beautiful honeymoon trip to Italy and 30,000 pounds.

Adam decides to go ahead and click to enter because he lives in a cruddy, rundown house with a few other guys and could really use his share of that money. Jessica’s job as a bartender at a strip club is what’s helping pay for her dream of attending grad school at King’s College. But the notion of being able to get out of that and focus on studying entices her to go ahead and enter too.

When they end up winning and facing the reality of actually getting married, both have to remind themselves of the perks they wanted. Because not only are they legally and lawfully wed, in front of a huge in-person audience of strangers and a live feed online, they have to deal with Cassie McFlasterton, the proud owner of Sociality, who is working on making public every single interaction they have with each other, at least through nonstop photographs on their honeymoon and at other staged activities once they’re settled back in London.

Of course, two strangers getting to know each other after marriage end up having plenty of misunderstandings, and their frustrations as roommates and potential lovers lead to disagreements and some fights. As time goes on and it seems they won’t be able to even be civil to each other, let alone fall for each other romantically, their prize money and beautiful apartment might be in danger, not to mention their sanity and reputations.

I got this as an e-book on Netgalley because it sounded like some light, fun reading. It has a bit of romance but far more seems to be a collection of crazy situations: physical comedy in print form. But it all seems so over the top and kind of just an excuse to string together outrageous happenings that it didn’t really grab me entirely. Plus, some of the language usage bugged me: It’s set in England, written by a British author, and has a British male protagonist. The female protagonist, however, is a California American. And she ends up saying a number of things that just aren’t American English. For one, the author keeps having both Jess and Adam say “sat on” or something like that instead of “sitting down” or something similar, and it bugged me EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. She just wouldn’t say it British-style. She also says a British-ism for “miniature golf” and uses “cookery” instead of “cooking.” That was distracting, and then the plot point that they got to where they seemed to hate each other for about half the book, and then somehow ended up (yes, call this a bit of a spoiler, but you expect this anyway) liking each other by the end, the way the author made it all come together seemed a bit too contrived. I just couldn’t settle in and enjoy it all enough.

Rated: High, for lots of strong language (at least 35 to 40 uses, and the book really isn’t that long). There’s some references to sex, including observations about women’s body parts, especially in the strip club, but sex scenes are off-screen.

*I received an advance e-copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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