St. Martin's Press
I wasn't planning to read another book by Katie Fforde so soon after the last, but Bidding for Love arrived through the inter-library loan system faster than I expected... and then I found myself picking it up and reading it here and there... and before I knew it, I had finished it.
Bidding for Love is a romantic-comedy that was originally printed as Flora's Lot when it hit the bookstore shelves in the UK during the spring of 2007. It is the 11th novel by British author Katie Fforde. In this story the beautiful twenty-something Flora Stanza has suddenly become an heiress. When an uncle dies and leaves her the majority partnership in an auction house Flora decides to give the family business a try and leaves her London life for the English countryside. While Flora's knowledge of auctions and antiques is limited to the little bit of "Antique Roadshow" she's watched on TV that doesn't stop her from being full of enthusiasm and ideas. The only problem is her rather curt and stuffy cousin Charles and his fiancee Annabelle aren't exactly happy to have Flora's help. When they make an offer to buy Flora out of her shares for a large sum of money she is almost tempted... but in the end decides to stay on a little longer. What follows is a story that is witty, entertaining, romantic, and anything but dull.
This is the second novel by Katie Fforde that I have read. My opinion of Fforde's writing style is becoming a little more established. She's an ok writer, but not a great writer. Fforde creates entertaining stories with interesting settings, witty dialog, rich characters, and romantic matches.
However, there are some drawbacks to the books. First, Fforde seems to really like to use the phrase "his eyes crinkling" a lot, which does get old. And although I definitely appreciate the fact her stories have little to no language and her love scenes are minor, I still think she could do a little better. For example, the love scene in Bidding For Love seemed a little thrown on the reader; almost as if Fforde felt she must have a bedroom scene (albeit subtle) in the book in order for the book to be properly romantic. Apparently this is something modern writers sturggle with and that's interesting because clearly Jane Austen didn't need any bed scenes to turn Pride and Prejudice into the multi-generationally loved story of romance that it is.
And while we're on that subject I have one more complaint and it has to do with the Flora's love interest. On the one hand I saw it coming, yet for some reason by the end of the book it still seemed a little thrown together -- almost as if Fforde was trying to channel Jane Austen and bring in a little Fitzwilliam Darcy/George Wickim/Elizabeth Bennett drama. I realize nearly the whole world of romance readers is in love with Mr. Darcy, but can't writers give it a break and create some new types of heroes? Just a thought.
Overall I enjoyed Bidding for Love. It was a fun read. On a scale of 1-5, 1 being horrible and 5 being excellent I would rate Bidding for Love a 3.5. I am interested in exploring some more of Ffordes books, but not right now. I'm taking a break from chick-lit for a little while.