It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog blitz for When Polly Met Olly by Zoe May. Published in January 2019 by HQ Digital, it’s available for kindle via Amazon in the UK and US, as an ebook via Apple, Google and Kobo, and also in paperback. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my reading e-copy (provided via netgalley).
I’ve been meaning to try a book by Zoe for quite a while (Rachel had told me great things), and I had noticed she has a new book, Flying Solo, out in July (available for pre-order). But with my finger over the pre-order button, I thought it might be good to try this earlier book first, to see if her writing really was for me. And I’m delighted to report that it really was…
Polly and Olly were never supposed to meet…
Polly might spend her days searching for eligible matches for her elite list of clients at her New York dating agency, but her own love life is starting to go up in smoke.
Even worse, she can’t stop thinking about the very person she’s meant to be setting her latest client up with… surely it can’t get any worse!
But then Polly bumps into oh-so-handsome Olly, who heads up a rival agency, and realizes that perhaps all really is fair in love and dating war…
Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Debbie Viggiano.
I will admit that I’m not always the greatest fan of books by UK authors that have a US setting, and I did worry a little when I realised this one was set in New York. But I’ve seen some criticism of this book around the fact that the American characters aren’t sufficiently “real”, maybe rather too British – and I’ll admit that suited me just fine.
I loved Polly – and she’s English, rather struggling to make a success of her photography, not wanting to have to go home with her tail between her legs and settle for life as a doctor’s receptionist. She’s feisty and funny – and I particularly liked the warmth of her relationship with her drag queen flatmate Gabe, who has a nice (if incomplete) storyline all of his own around aiming high and fulfilling his goals.
She ends up working at the To The Moon and Back dating agency, for the wonderful Derek (what a great character), dealing with the clients and interacting on their behalf up to the point when they’re ready to meet each other. But they have some serious competition – the considerably more slick Elite Love Match is stealing their business, its flamboyant owner Olly becoming quite a media celebrity – and Derek sends Polly in undercover to find out why they’re having so much more success.
There’s a nice chemistry between Olly and Polly – quite a surprise really, when your initial impression of him is that he’s an insincere, self-obsessed, obnoxious prat. He’s also considerably older than Polly – in his forties, she’s in her 20s – and he does have the most appalling dress sense. Might the gorgeous Brandon, searching for love (but with very precise requirements) not be a more suitable match for Polly? Ah, but Olly has hidden depths – although, it has to be said, that they are sometimes so deeply hidden as to be invisible.
Ok – this book might not be a prize contender for the believability of its central romance, but I have to say that I whizzed through it in an afternoon with a big smile on my face. I really enjoyed everything about the rival dating agencies story-line – the writing’s quirky and very funny, with some lovely set pieces (particularly the big party, and her photography session with Derek), the supporting characters are particularly well-drawn, and the dialogue fizzes and sparkles throughout (particularly in the exchanges between Polly and Olly).
I did like the book’s messages too – that love is more than just a series of checks and balances (and can sometimes be found where you least expect it), that people shouldn’t be judged by appearances or through other people’s eyes, and the importance of living life to your full potential.
Really nicely done, and I’d like to read more from Zoe May – I might have had some minor reservations, but I enjoyed this one.
About the author
Zoe May lives in London and writes romantic comedies. Zoe has dreamt of being a novelist since she was a teenager. She spent her twenties living in London, where she worked in journalism and copywriting before writing her debut novel, Perfect Match.
Having experienced the London dating scene first hand, Zoe could not resist writing a novel about dating, since it seems to supply endless amounts of weird and wonderful material! Perfect Match was one of Apple’s top-selling books of 2018. It was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award, with judges describing it as ‘a laugh out loud look at love and self-discovery – fresh and very funny’.
As well as writing, Zoe enjoys walking her dog, painting and, of course, reading.