I have to give a big thanks to the recommendation of Hester Browne. Fluffy British chick lit was exactly what I needed for this weekend, and this fit the bill perfectly. I had my semi-annual change-of-seasons migraine all weekend, and oddly enough, after the first hour of staying totally still with my eyes closed, I couldn't deal with the sound and lights/motion of TV, but I could read, and reading made me forget about the headache, which made me less tense, which eased the headache, and this was just the thing for that kind of reading. I'd seen The Little Lady Agency but for some reason thought it was something like The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, more of a mystery thing, and while that's a good book, it's not what you reach for when you're in the mood for fluffy British chick lit.
Saturday's reading was The Little Lady Agency, which is not about a detective agency. It's about a young woman who's lost yet another job -- she's the sort who's really good at organizing things in an office in a way that makes everyone else look really efficient, which means she's often the first one considered expendable when they cut back. When a male friend who has no interest in having a significant other is dreading a family wedding and she agrees to go as his girlfriend and help spruce him up a bit to avoid maternal criticism, she gets the idea for a business she can go into: being a sort of hired wife or girlfriend for men who don't have or don't want a relationship. She can help organize them, pick out clothes, help them get gifts for family members or employees, plan parties, send cards, etc., and she can also go along with them to business or family functions when they need dates. To keep her real personal life separate and to prevent scandal from affecting her prominent family if she's seen around with a lot of men, she wears a wig and creates a more confident persona for her business interactions. But then things get tricky when she starts to fall for one of her clients and knows that if he's falling for her, he's really falling for her alter ego. I read this in just about one sitting. It's a rare chick lit novel in which the heroine has a ton of common sense, doesn't constantly get drunk, doesn't jump into bed with men and generally acts like a reasonable human being, though she does have a few naive moments. However, I really hated the ending. I'd read along, devouring the book, then nearly threw it across the room at the outcome. A quick skim of the Amazon listings for the rest of the series tells me the story isn't over yet, so I'll let it slide for now, but I think if I'd read this before the sequels were published, I might not have read the rest.
Sunday's reading was outside that series, a standalone called The Finishing Touches. Our Heroine has a rather dramatic backstory: she was left as an infant in a box at the door of a prestigious London finishing school and was adopted by the aristocratic couple who ran the school. Now she's an adult, and after her adoptive mother's death, her adoptive father asks her to look into the school, which is losing money and having problems. She realizes that a big part of the problem is that they're still using a 1950s curriculum, and today's super-wealthy parents are more likely to be rock stars, athletes or other celebrities than the aristocrats the school used to serve. So, she comes up with ideas to teach what today's young woman needs to know -- more about eating sushi politely than knowing all the different kinds of oyster forks. And along the way, she realizes that the school itself may hold the key to learning who her birth parents were and why she was abandoned. I liked this one a bit better than The Little Lady Agency because it was a nice mix of elements. There's the fun of coming up with what today's young lady needs to know, there's a romance (and I liked the ending this time) and there's the mystery thread of her tracking down her parentage.
Next time I get in a chick lit mood, I know where to turn because there are a lot more books by her in the library.
But for now, I think I may finish my first draft today. I'm still figuring out whether the resolution should defeat the villain entirely or just foil this evil scheme and whether it's even likely that they can defeat him entirely or if this evil scheme being defeated will ruin him for good. I'm either at the scene where they're going to foil the scheme and save the day or where they think they've foiled the evil scheme and saved the day -- until the villain plays his last card and complicates matters. Have they really destroyed the Terminator, or are the last pieces of the metal chassis still coming after them? So to speak. There are no Terminators in this book.