Wednesday, August 20, 2014

REVIEW: "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" by Sarra Manning

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me
You Don't Have To Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning
For Ages 18+ (Language and Sensuality)
Contemporary Romance

Corgi -- Published in February 2011
Ebook, 560 pages
Read in August 2011
Purchased from Amazon

Brainy Heroines, Romantic Comedy

Sweet, bookish Neve Slater always plays by the rules. And the number one rule is that good-natured fat girls like her don't get guys like gorgeous, handsome William, heir to Neve's heart since university. But William's been in LA for three years, and Neve's been slimming down and re-inventing herself so that when he returns, he'll fall head over heels in love with the new, improved her.

So she's not that interested in other men. Until her sister Celia points out that if Neve wants William to think she's an experienced love-goddess and not the fumbling, awkward girl he left behind, then she'd better get some, well, experience.

What Neve needs is someone to show her the ropes, someone like Celia's colleague Max. Wicked, shallow, sexy Max. And since he's such a man-slut, and so not Neve's type, she certainly won't fall for him. Because William is the man for her... right?

Somewhere between losing weight and losing her inhibitions, Neve's lost her heart - but to whom?

"Neve could feel her knickers and tights make a bid for freedom as soon as she sat down."

One of my favorite movies (and books) is Bridget Jones's Diary with the quirky, but relatable heroine and her mostly unsuccessful attempts to find love and self-confidence.  The blurb for You Don't Have To Say You Love Me is very reminiscent of BJD and that is why I knew I had to read it.  Overall, I found this book to be entertaining and surprisingly romantic if a bit on the long side.

The narrator is archivist (!) Neve Slater who is on the home stretch of her grand plan to lose weight and be ready for the return of her long-time crush William from Los Angeles.  Neve has been corresponding faithfully with William over the past three years and she is determined to make him see that she is perfect for him in every way.  The weight loss has been going great, but Neve feels extremely naive in the ways that relationships works and she wants to make sure she doesn't screw anything up.  A random (and embarrassing) encounter with her sister's co-worker persuades Neve to start a "pancake relationship" with said co-worker in an effort to gain more experience.

I absolutely adored both of the main characters in this book, Neve and Max.  Neve is relatable with her self-confidence issues, but rarely ventures into the annoying category.  I completely admired her strength of character to lose all the weight through perseverance, healthy diet, and supervised exercise.  I also loved her job and how passionate she was about it even if her boss was a bit of a douche.  Max is an interesting guy in that he claims to be a party animal who loves women, but, early on in his interactions with Neve, shows his more sensitive side.  The development of his character is almost as intriguing as Neve's journey and is often a mystery due to the fact that readers are only seeing her point of view.

Besides Neve's relationship with Max, readers also get to see how she interacts with her family and co-workers.  I loved the realistic way that Sarra Manning portrayed the bond between Neve and Celia.  These two sisters couldn't be more different and they do get on one another nerves, but they adore each other and support them in anyway possible.  Neve's issues with her father are subtly described and, for me, one of the more powerful aspects of the book.  I also enjoyed the evolution of Neve's ability to stand up for herself when dealing with her sister-in-law who used to torture her in school.

The main reason that I did not give this book five stars like I thought I would based on my enjoyment of the characters and the romance was the sheer length of it.  At 560 pages (in paperback form), this was a very thick story and I'm not sure it needed to be.  Neve's character development is the main focus and it felt like things kept dragging on at points.  I know I am an impatient reader especially when it comes to romance when I want them to "just admit their feelings, damn it!", but I kept feeling like that in the latter third of the book.

Despite the page length issue, I really did enjoy You Don't Have To Say You Love Me.  It is has a nice balance of comedy, drama, and romance.  The WAG wedding was one of particularly favorite scenes both with humor and drama.  I am definitely going to look for more of Sarra Manning's romances in the future and recommend this one for fans of smart, hilarious contemporary romance.


Flush -- Detailed descriptions of lovemaking though nothing overly graphic.

"It wasn't a perfect body but it was the body she deserved. Not just from every bar of chocolate or bag of crisps or laden plate of food that she'd eaten. This body was also testament to all the hours in the gym and cycling up hills on her bike and glugging down two litres of water a day and learning to love vegetables and fruits that didn't come as optional extra with a pastry crust. She'd earned this body.  This was her body and she had to stop giving it such a hard time."


  1. Ohhhh, I love Bridget Jones's Dairy, too, and i am for sure interested in this one. Although I am a bit daunted by the page count!


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