Friday, 24 July 2015

Review: The Piano Man Project by Kat French

Publication Date: July 30th 2015
Publisher: Harper Collins UK/Avon
Length: 400 pages

Huge thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins UK/Avon for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

A delightfully romantic, heartwarming read for everyone who’s ever looked for The One and found someone better.
You: kind, piano-playing sex god
Me: hopelessly romantic charity shop manager
Honeysuckle Jones has a problem, and her best friends Nell and Tash are on a mission to help her solve it. She needs a man – a caring, intelligent, funny man. But most importantly, a man who’s good with his hands…

Luckily Honey’s new neighbour – moody, antisocial ex-chef Hal – fails on almost every count. Even though the chemistry between them is electric, he’s obviously wrong for her in every way.
But when Honey discovers the devastating reason for his moods she decides to give him another chance. And discovers that the best songs aren’t always in tune…

It’s summer time and I always need a few good chick-lits to curl up and read when it gets warmer, and that blurb had me more than a little bit intrigued.
The book starts with one of the most attention grabbing scenes I’ve read in a long time. Honey and her two best friends in a sex shop, discussing vibrators and sex. This is not a book that holds back, and you’re thrust in (no pun intended) right from the very first sentence.

I wasn’t initially convinced, I mean yes the book had my attention, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be good. But ‘The Piano Man Project’ ended up surprising me until by the end I was thoroughly invested and more than a little bit emotional.

Honey and Hal are fantastic together. The banter is brilliant and I frequently found myself laughing out loud. Add to that their chemistry and that alone would be enough to make this a good book. But it had so much more depth to it. It tackles sex, the culture and emphasis on orgasm. It tackles the plight of the residents of the home, the problematic attitude that so many have about sweeping the elderly under the rug and forgetting the things they have done for us with their youth. It has strong and brilliant friendships between Honey and her two best friends, plus the friendships Honey has developed with the residents of the home. There was so much to this book that it stopped being ‘just a romance’ from only a handful of pages in.

Whilst the relationship developing between Hal and Honey was fantastic, and the side story of the search for an elusive piano man was amusing/cringeworthy at points, the real show stealer for me was the story thread about trying to save the home. I loved watching Honey come out of her shell and start to really put herself out there and speak up for these residents. I loved the protests and the humour that came through above the fear in those moments. I loved the quiet determination throughout, but I particularly loved the crowning glory, the giant protest at the end where everything comes to a head. I was so emotional by that point reading the speeches from Honey, and the support from all of the other characters that I was actually in tears on the train whilst reading. I was so drawn into the narrative and invested with these characters and their lives.

My only issue was with some of Hal’s character points. I got that he had to be grumpy and abrasive, but there were several points where the way he was treating Honey was just too awful to really then sell the romance. I could have done with his terribleness being toned down a little bit so that I wasn’t constantly questioning why Honey was falling for him. It was decidedly problematic at several points. That said I loved the slow build-up of their relationship. The kisses, the cooking, the dinner and talking through the door. It was brilliantly done. I loved that we had a hero who wasn’t the norm. Kat really embraced the challenge of having Hal be blind, and I loved seeing how he dealt with that, the emotional and physical problems, how he tried to deal with it and the fall-out from that. It added more unexpected depths that I truly wasn’t expecting and surprised me in the best possible way.

This whole book surprised me. I was expecting a light romance and instead I got a romance with some much deeper themes underlying it. It was emotional, and poignant and utterly brilliant. I was swept away with this story and loved spending time with Honey. This is definitely one that I’m going to come back to again and again.

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