Book Review: Love At First Fight by Mary Jayne Baker
Bridie and Ben have actually been fighting on and off for the last ten years. And frankly, it was all Ben’s fault. He did Bridie very dirty when they were both just teenagers, and has spent a long time not apologising for it. Now his brother Cal is marrying Bridie’s best friend Hattie, and Ben and Bridie are thrust back into each other’s company… and Ben has finally grown up enough to start examining exactly why he’s never been able to get his focus off Bridie.
Hattie and Cal are an adorable couple who just want the best for Ben and Bridie, and get up to all sorts of hijinks with friends trying to get Ben and Bridie to see past their respective blind spots. Ben does, finally, understand just how wrong he was and does a massive grovel, and he and Bridie get together.
Up until that point I was loving the book because Ben and Bridie are so real and so funny with the way they sass and bicker, but the bizarre thing is that they get together shortly after the halfway mark. And then we get into a really strange plot - I can’t even call it a subplot, because it totally takes over the book - where Cal’s ex-girlfriend comes back on the scene and tries to break him and Hattie up, and Ben and Bridie have to team up to outwit her and keep the wedding on track.
Honestly, this just didn’t make any sense. It would have been so much more logical for Jojo to have been BEN’s ex, who found out he was seriously dating Bridie and tried to muscle back in. The way it was, the focus was off Ben and Bridie for probably a good quarter of the book, and it’s just way too much for a subplot.
There’s a lot to like about this book. The characters are so very realistic, down to earth Yorkshire lads and lasses with very ordinary lives - Hattie and Bridie are high school teachers, Cal is a mechanic, Ben leads adventure tours on the muddy moors - and they’re funny, with strong connections and relationships between them. The banter’s genuinely amusing. A couple of things struck me as odd, like Bridie having grown up in the town but having literally no friends apart from Ben and Cal who she’d known since her schooldays. That’s really not how small towns work.
The thing is that the plot is a hot mess once Ben and Bridie resolve their past issues. And no matter how much I enjoyed the writing and the characters, I just can’t ignore that. I’d like to see what this author could produce with an editor who could help them nail down a proper romance plot arc, but I cannot give this more than three stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.