Every bride wants a perfect wedding and that includes Georgina Winters. Amy Perfect is the crème de la crème of wedding planners so who best to plan Georgina’s wedding… except the man Georgina plans to marry is the same man who jilted Amy three years ago.
Will her plan to give Georgina the most imperfect wedding backfire on her? Is this the chance for Amy to win back the love of her life, or will insufferable Ben Garret put a spanner in the works? Arab princes, spoilt brides and wedding catastrophes make Perfect Weddings a page-turning romantic comedy that will keep you guessing until the very last page.
I’m not a massive fan of romantic comedy. Really, I’m not. I said the same when I recently read and enjoyed Carol Wyer’s latest. But I read Lynda Renham’s Perfect Weddings (published in April, available for kindle and in paperback) on a rail trip to London last week. It was one of those horrendous trips, where they’d cancelled two trains and shoe-horned everybody into the third one, and you had to climb over people to get to the toilet – and I still had to put my kindle down at one point because I snorted, laughed out loud and was in tears (of laughter). This book was really, really good. And I might still not be a total fan of rom com, but I certainly know I’ll be reading a lot more by Lynda Renham.
A proper review follows – well, it might be a bit “how about that bit when…” and “ooh, that bit when…”, but I’ll do my best to keep it coherent. But first, I’m really thrilled to introduce you to the wonderful Lynda Renham.
I can’t believe Perfect Weddings is the first book of yours I’ve read. Where did the idea for this one come from?
You know, I really have no idea where they come from. I do remember struggling for ideas for this novel though and a friend had popped in for a coffee and we were sitting in my summer house chatting and something clicked in my head as we were chatting. After she left I put on some wedding music and wrote what became chapter eight or something and kind of went backwards if that makes sense. It probably sounds like a chaotic way to write but chaos is my middle name.
Now that you have a whole pile of books out there, does the writing get easier, or does the pressure of expectation make it more difficult?
It truthfully makes it more difficult and humour is hard to write because if you’re not feeling on top, it is impossible to produce the stuff needed. Which was why I took to writing some romance with my Little Perran series (the first in the series was A Christmas Romance), which by the way has number 2 in the series out soon (plug) Plus the Little Perran stories helped my writing block during the writing of Perfect Weddings.
I’m really interested in your original path to publication. How did things happen for you?
I wrote Wedding Cake to Turin and self-published. It was a big success but a real learning curve as I made so many mistakes. I was convinced I would never sell another book. But I wrote Croissants and Jam and my husband who is a Doctor of computer science took over. He did all the kindle stuff and organised the paperbacks. The book did so well that by the time Coconuts and Wonderbras came out we had established Raucous Publishing and joined up with The Manning Partnership in conjunction with Random House who handle our paperback distribution to Waterstones and everywhere else.
We have a talented team which includes a professional proof reader, a professional artist who does our super covers also another graphic designer who designs the excellent Amy Perfect covers and Karan Eleni who does our promotional graphics. It has gone from strength to strength and then I got head hunted by Bernard Cornwell’s agent and I signed with them. But right now I’m happy as I am and although a top publisher wanted to see the last novel we decided against it as their advance was very small.
Is your latest book always your favourite – or do you have a soft spot for one of your books in particular?
I have a soft spot always for The Dog’s Bollocks. I always will. It took me back to my own roots and I loved that.
Does producing sparkling romantic comedy get to be a bit of a chore at times – on those days we all have when you don’t feel romantic or particularly funny?
Oh yes, but I believe you have to keep on. Never give up no matter what. It’s the only way to live your life.
Would you always want to write romantic comedy? Do you have a secret hankering to try something different?
I have a novel in me that I’ve wanted to write for years. I have the beginning the middle and the end and the title. It is as far from a romantic comedy as you can get and I am going to try and write it this year before the thing drives me insane running around my head.
How do you fit your writing around your life? What does a typical writing day look like?
I live and breathe writing to be honest. I start writing at 9 and finish about 6 when Andrew gets home and we have dinner. I then read what I have done to him as he is my biggest critic. I then spend the evening promoting or answering questions for bloggers for their blog posts about me. Or I take part in other book activities on line. I then answer emails and usually it is then time for bed.
And what writers do you particularly admire? if someone said “your writing reminds me of…”, who would you really like them to mention?
Richard Curtis. I am a great admirer of his work. (Oh, and so am I…)
And what’s next for you? Are you working on something new?
The second Little Perran novel and I’m loving every moment.
Linda, thank you – and congratulations on being the first person (and probably the only possible person) to answer a question with “I have a soft spot for The Dog’s Bollocks”….
I think I need to tell you up-front that this is going to be a particularly uncritical review. From that first page when Greg proposes to Amy (or maybe it was slightly the other way round?) over the all day breakfast at the Little Chef, this book totally grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Amy is magnificent, and becomes your very best friend as life kicks her in the teeth only for her to turn around and reinvent herself as Amy Perfect, wedding planner. If you’ve ever felt like the fat ugly and useless one – and oh yes, I’ve had my moments – you’ll be totally in her corner too, and cheering loudly and enthusiastically for her as she gets back on top.
But if that was all the book was, I guess it wouldn’t be much of a story. When Greg – the man who abandoned her at the church gates – re-enters her life as the future groom of the lovely Georgina, anyone would want to get their revenge. But nothing goes as it should – this is a deliciously convoluted story of starting out wanting one thing and finding out that you want something entirely different. Via a lecherous sheikh, a night in the cells, a fishmonger suitor, a tattoo parlour, a Michael Jackson tribute and… oh, I told you I’d never stay coherent.
The characters are quite perfect – well, not perfect, that wouldn’t work, but so superbly drawn. I just loved hard-done-by Lucy in the office, best friend Rosie with the one-liners, her mum and Auntie Val, Georgina’s maid of honour Patsy, and every bride Amy deals with (especially the fantastic Chardonnay from Sarff-end). The story moves at an incredible pace, as life gets more and more complicated – you get to see some of the disasters coming, want to close your eyes, but keep reading just to know how things turn out. There’s one bit where… no, ok, I won’t. But some of the situations in this book still have me laughing as I remember them.
What’s lovely too is that the writing is so very good – all the dialogue sparks and crackles, but so very realistically. You really can picture and hear the characters talking, with Amy’s own voice clearest of all. That Richard Curtis comparison? It certainly works for me – and it’s a lovely touch that his films crop up at some key points in the story too. And there’s a great love story, but one that’s never going to move smoothly, in case I didn’t mention it. And an ending… oh, what an ending.
I loved this book – but you can tell, can’t you? Lynda Renham, I have no idea why I haven’t read your books before, but you’re simply wonderful.
My thanks to Lynda for providing an advance reading e-copy – I’ve now purchased the entire back-catalogue.
Lynda Renham is famous for her romantic comedy novels. She has been called A Comedian in a Book, Chicklit Royalty and A Comic Genius. Her writing style has been likened to Sophie Kinsella but is refreshingly down to earth with characters that become your friends. Lynda is a prolific writer, blogger and when not writing can usually be found wasting her time on Facebook.
Lynda lives in Oxfordshire with her second husband and cat, Bendy. Follow her on Twitter and through her Facebook author page, or find out more about her through her website.