The Little Lady Agency Reviewed by Laura Stanning
Melissa Romney-Jones is dark-haired, shy, slightly chubby, under-confident and pushed around by her obnoxious family. And to add insult to injury, she’s just been made redundant. Searching for a way to pay her long-suffering flatmate Nelson the rent she owes him, and with her vile father demanding repayment on the money he loaned her, Melissa starts up The Little Lady Agency – the answer to the prayers of all London’s not-so-eligible bachelors, and their long-suffering parents! But, lacking the confidence to organise people efficiently, Melissa decides to create a new face for the business. Enter Honey Blennerhesket, Melissa’s blonde, feisty, Agent Provocateur-wearing alter-ego who can make over a man faster than Trinny and Susannah.
Slightly to Melissa’s amazement, business takes off and Honey becomes in high demand, helping legions of girlfriendless men gain self-confidence and better wardrobes. But when Jonathan Riley, a sexy new client, starts to requests her services on a regular basis Melissa finds it harder and harder to keep her two lives apart…
I absolutely adored this book, from the very first page. Melissa is a sweet and incredibly likeable heroine, and someone I think everyone can relate to, although there are a couple of points where her naïveté can be a bit grating. We’ve all got a bit of Melissa in us – the side of us that believes that we’re not thin enough, or successful enough, or interesting enough – but what this book helps us to remember is that we’ve all definitely got a bit of the glamorous Honey in us too! Watching Melissa slowly develop confidence, as Honey becomes less and less of an act, is very rewarding and will have every reader rooting for her.
Unlike the vast majority of chick lit on the shelves, Hester Browne has produced not only an original storyline, but also an unpredictable one – whether Honey will end up with the adorable Nelson or the gorgeous Jonathan, and whether she will ever find the confidence to stand up to her truly appalling father is beautifully played out and keeps you eagerly turning the pages right to the end. With a supporting cast of original and believable characters this is an outstanding debut novel, all of which makes it such a joy that there are now two further books charting Honey/Melissa’s progression – Little Lady, Big Apple and The Little Lady Agency And The Prince. I read all three back to back, which made for a very happy week indeed, and I’m now thoroughly looking forward to Hester Browne’s new offering – The Finishing Touches: A Girl’s Guide To Being (Practically) Perfect. With a new heroine (a thoroughly modern girl called Betsy) who goes back to run the (thoroughly old-fashioned) finishing school on whose steps she was abandoned as a child, the book is apparently a funny, fictional version of ‘How to Walk in High Heels’ – I can’t wait!