Author: Sophia Money-Coutts
Rating: 5 Stars
Dates read: 16 Jun 19 – 18 Jun 19
Publication date: 22 Aug 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, Pregnancy
After eight years together, Lil Bailey thought she’d already found ‘the one’ – that is, until he dumped her for a blonde twenty-something colleague. So she does what any self-respecting singleton would do: swipes right, puts on her best bra and finds herself on a first date with a handsome mountaineer called Max. What’s the worst that can happen?
Well it’s pretty bad actually. First Max ghosts her and then, after weeing on a stick (but mostly her hands), a few weeks later Lil discovers she’s pregnant. She’s single, thirty-one and living in a thimble-sized flat in London, it’s hardly the happily-ever-after she was looking for.
Lil’s ready to do the baby-thing on her own – it can’t be that hard, right? But she should probably tell Max, if she can track him down. Surely he’s not thatMax, the highly eligible, headline-grabbing son of Lord and Lady Rushbrooke, currently trekking up a mountain in South Asia? Oh, maybe he wasn’t ignoring Lil after all…
*I received an eARC of this book courtesy of HQ and NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review*
Do you ever read a book and think it is brutally honest? Yeah, I thought it was quite rare too. What Happens Now? is an exploration into the complexity of human relationships and emotion. It tackles complex situations with tact and humour and is a wonderful example of a book hooking you in on one level and opening your eyes on another.
The basic premise of the story is one that has been explored in the chick lit/rom-com world before: girl meets boy on date, they hook up, few weeks later she finds out she is pregnant, life ensues. To a point this book is no different, but in many ways, it is completely different, and this simultaneous feeling of being on well trodden ground and reading something fresh was, well, refreshing. The author has entwined humour into some very difficult situations and has created some really warm and genuine friendships and family relationships.
Lil is a pretty awesome character and I really liked her. Working as a normal girl in an extraordinary world (yes, all you Mona the Vampire fans will be singing the theme tune along with me), she tackles the frankly hilarious and alarming world of teaching the offspring of the rich and famous, and having a ‘baby-daddy’ as a rich and famous explorer and heir which frankness, maintaining who she is throughout. She is clearly intelligent and empathetic, and slots in all the areas with her life with ease, even if she internally questions her judgements and positions. She treats her friends with genuine warmness, and I think Max’s description of her as kind is absolutely spot on. Her relationship with her students is equal part inspiring and hilarious (and the seen where she explains how people become pregnant is possibly the best in the whole book).
Max is definitely attractive. I realise that’s not his only defining quality, but I have to point it out because I think he sounds like a pretty ideal Man. He’s described as brown haired, athletic, and charming, and his rich background (he’s the heir to a fortune and Viscount title) and his fame as an explorer and mountaineer was exciting to read about. It added a level of depth to both his character and the story and felt like a genuine rather than forced level of complexity that fuelled aspects of the plot. He is also wonderfully flawed. Yes, he does get her pregnant and isn’t there throughout the whole of her pregnancy, yes he is emotional and dare I say irrational when he first finds out, but he exudes warmth and the want to help and look after both Lil and their baby and I grew to really like him as a character and not just to fantasise about. Throughout it all, he is also grounded, as shown by the motivations behind his exploration and addressing the car he drives.
Their baby, whom they call E.T throughout in an adorable fashion, is the glue that binds this story. Some of the most emotional, funny, and brilliant scenes are when they interact about the baby. Their scans are an emotional rollercoaster and I think show the timeline for how their relationship develops in most clarity. Their ridiculous Antenatal classes, bought by an excessively wealthy mother of a son that Lil teaches. They are both out of their depth in a rich and ridiculous world but they find the humour and the joy in it and bond over life experiences and memories. The birth of the baby is, obviously emotional, and I like how the journey through the pregnancy and the birth actually plays out in full throughout the story, they have ups and downs and it’s not completely resolved.
I think it’s quite well known that I am a fan of the side characters within a book, and once again, I have not been disappointed by this novel. Her friends Jess and Clem are funny and undyingly there for her. They don’t always know what to do, or what to say, but their friendship triangle is built on honesty and respect, and I like that this shows as they battle both good news, bad news, big decisions, and continue to help one another.
Their families are also fascinating, funny, and well constructed, and reveal a lot about the character’s motivations and actions. Lil is close to her parents, her mother and step-father are caring academics who are constantly worrying about her wellbeing. Although surprised, they are ecstatic about their grandchild and embrace Max even though the baby is a product of a one night stand with their daughter. Their reaction and continued involvement is in stark contrast to his parents, who are standoffish and barely tolerant of the baby’s presence, and are annoyed that the union out of wedlock illegitimises their family and legacy. The tragic death of their son and Max’s older brother has left a mark on their family and relationship and definitely affects the way they and Max process the news.
One thing I really loved about this story was that respect for previous relationships. They both have ex-partners at the beginning of the story that are recently ended relationships. Their date is a result of taking a step into the dating pool after these failed relationships, and it leaves them on an equal footing. The reasons they ended are different, and even though there is some resentment and a small lack of trust as a result, they respect the people they were with before. Instead of constantly bitching and being rude, when confront with her ex and his new partner Indy (with whom he cheated on Lil with) she is as warm and genuine as she can be and acknowledges them both with quite a lot of grace. Max’s ex Prim pops up as his exploring takes a turn and even though she drives a slight wedge in proceedings, it’s not because the story screws her over, it’s more a genuine lack of understanding. This is not only discussed and resolved, but Prim’s integrity is actually maintained throughout and is something I really respect.
As you can probably tell, I really liked this book. It was emotionally complex and genuine, and was constructed from a place of love, honesty, and an understanding and acceptance that life is not always simple so we have to make the best out of what we do have. I devoured this book in super quick time and can’t recommend it enough.