One Night Stand, by Julie Cohen

>> Monday, November 16, 2009

TITLE: One Night Stand
AUTHOR: Julie Cohen

COPYRIGHT: 2007
PAGES: 310
PUBLISHER: Little Black Dress

SETTING: Contemporary England
TYPE: Romance / Chick Lit
SERIES: None

REASON FOR READING: Picked it up at random at the library

Eleanor Connor may have written seventeen steamy novels, but her own life is more mundane. In fact, the nearest she comes to sex is having to listen through the thin walls of her house as her friend and neighbour, Hugh, makes love to an ever-changing stream of female conquests. But then one night she makes a one-night-only conquest of her own, only to wake up alone, a bit repentant, and as she later realises, very pregnant. Desperate to find her missing lover, if only to tell him he’s going to be a father, she enlists the help of Hugh to help her search – but begins to realise that the perfect partner could have been right under her nose all this time...
Eleanor and Hugh have been best friends for ages. She's been half in love with him the entire time, but knows that he doesn't return her feelings, so she has pretty much given up on him. Good thing, too, because Hugh is a bit of a man-whore, and Eleanor knows this full well, since they're neighbours and the wall between their houses is quite thin.

Eleanor writes successful erotica novels under a pseudonym, but her day (well, night as well) job is at her local pub, and she feels she's going nowhere. One night that she's feeling especially frustrated she samples the pub's wares a bit too enthusiastically, and ends up having a one-night stand with one of the patrons, an especially attractive newcomer.

As luck would have it, it turns out she was too drunk to bother with a condom, and Eleanor is now pregnant. Determined to find the father, she and Hugh start searching. But things feel different now between them...

I really loved this one, and not just for the story. I read this quite a while ago, and it was the first time ever that I'd read a book where the setting felt like the environment around me. However many American-set books I read and however familiar the settings have become, they still feel foreign, and for that matter, so do most of the English-set ones I've read. It tends to be that the characters' lives are so different to mine that I just don't get that sense of "I know this!". I did with this one, even though it's set in Reading and I don't actually live there. All the little details were there. Cohen is originally American, which might explain it. While English authors might take certain things for granted, it seems logical that she would be struck by the same things I was. Well, however it came about, I really liked the feeling of recognition.

And the romance was great, too. The setup is a bit chick-litty (you won't get many traditional romances where the heroine sleeps with someone else and even becomes pregnant by this someone else, during the book), and so is the fact that it's narrated in the first-person by Eleanor. However, this is very much a romance novel in that the focus is on the development of Eleanor and Hugh's relationship. I'd compare the feel of this book to Kristan Higgins's, which I also really like.

I thought I might have trouble liking Hugh as a viable love interest for Eleanor, since I'm not overly enamoured of promiscuous heroes, but I did. He's possibly a bit underwritten, but there was enough development of his character (well, of Eleanor's perception of him) that I changed my mind and thought he and Eleanor were perfect together.

This is one I'd recommend. I don't know if it's been published outside the UK, but it might be worth seeking out.

MY GRADE: A B+.

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