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Sarah Begg
Author
Laura the Explorer
Sarah Begg, author

At twenty-seven, Laura Baker finds herself single for the first time in her adult life, her now-gay ex-husband the only man she's ever slept with.

Moving into an apartment on Sydney's Northern Beaches, Laura's two new eclectic roommates convince her that she needs to get herself out there and start dating (and sleeping with) as many men as possible.

But as Laura's fun new lifestyle kicks off, her work ethic begins to slip. Her mum won't stop pestering her about her biological clock and trying to set her up with Eric from the pub. And to make things even worse, the volleyball-playing guy with the sky-blue eyes and rippling muscles that Laura has become infatuated with is hiding a secret that could shatter her world.

Amidst all the change in her life, Laura is forced to confront one crucial question: does she even know who she is anymore or how to be happy?

A fast-paced, fly-on-the-wall account of one woman's hilarious adventures in the contemporary Sydney dating scene.

Plot/Idea: 6 out of 10
Originality: 5 out of 10
Prose: 7 out of 10
Character/Execution: 6 out of 10
Overall: 6.00 out of 10

Assessment:

Plot: Though the basic plot, in which protagonist Laura has several pseudo-disastrous sexual encounters while pursuing a real crush, flows evenly, the author never fully dives into the exploration theme, making the story somewhat less of a sizzling sex farce and more of a lukewarm romance.

Prose/Style: The author's prose has energy and spunk, and the banter between her characters is both playful and natural. While the tone may not entirely capture the emotional gravity of the circumstances leading to Laura's divorce, Begg's storytelling is readily readable and highly entertaining.

Originality: This story leans heavily into twentysomething romance tropes--the mother nagging about having kids, the gay ex, and the sassy encouraging friend.The small world plot twists often fail to surprise, but Begg's premise is so fun, readers are sure not to mind some conventional elements.

Character Development: While side characters often don't rise about stereotypes, the author successfully builds Laura's character as she attempts to break out of her comfort zone and discover her independence. Though the narrative remains light, Laura's ruminations on her relationship with her ex-husband are frequently poignant and insightful.

Date Submitted: July 16, 2019

Reviews
Australian author Begg’s debut totters unevenly between its moments of sexual slapstick and broad humor about 20-something anxiety, and its overly complicated small-world romance, never quite committing to either. Laura Baker tries to make a fresh start with a move into a Sydney flat after her marriage to her high school sweetheart, Jack, ends with the revelation that he is gay. Her new roommates, Ben and Kalina, convince her to revisit her missed opportunity to sleep around. Meanwhile, she avoids her mother’s matchmaking and develops a crush on the mysterious Lucas, whom she keeps running into around town. The roommate dynamic has smart dialogue and energetic playfulness, but Laura’s relationships with family and work friends are stereotyped, and her internal monologue is obvious and fussy. Though there’s true humor in the bad sex vignettes, Begg never allows her heroine to really enjoy her casual encounters, denying frustrated readers the joy of the vicarious romp in favor of a milquetoast romance and vague self-discovery. If Begg commits wholeheartedly to her comedy in future books, she could be an author to watch. (BookLife)

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