Your New Best Friend
Jayne Denker, author
Jane Austen’s Emma made a habit of meddling in other people’s lives, but Melanie Abbott has turned it into a cottage industry. As “modern American royalty” living in Abbott’s Bay, Massachusetts, a town founded by her ancestor, Melanie Abbott feels it’s her right—even her duty—to employ her uncanny knack for knowing exactly what everyone needs to improve their lives. She eagerly shares her wisdom and insight with her friends and neighbors...whether they ask for it or not. If only Conn Garvey, her dearest friend, agreed with her. Connacht Garvey has been keeping an eye on Melanie since they were kids. A bit older, far more level-headed, and infinitely patient, Conn feels it's his duty to pull Melanie back from whatever cliff’s edge she’s about to wander off. Conn thinks Melanie is egotistical, self-centered, irritating, infuriating, relentless, ridiculous...and irresistible. Not that Conn’s confessed to that last one. Yet. When Melanie impulsively starts up a new advice-giving business, it’s an instant hit. Conn doesn’t approve, as usual, which is too bad, because Melanie’s convinced he needs her VIP package. (Of advice!) His coffeehouse is showing signs of financial trouble, plus his toxic ex is suddenly sniffing around, acting like she’s having second thoughts about their breakup. Will their friendship be blown to bits because of Melanie’s meddling...or will it become something more?
Good intentions go awry in this delicious romantic comedy by Denker (the Marsden series). During a chance encounter with an upset young woman, 29-year-old real estate agent Melanie Abbott hands out some well-meaning suggestions and soon finds herself in a thriving business as a professional friend, advice giver, and matchmaker. Denker nods to Jane Austen’s Emma and George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion with her likable protagonist, who’s dubbed Henrietta Higgins by the local paper. Judgmental, self-confident Melanie rises to stardom by bluntly doling out resolute advice to remold the characters in her small Massachusetts seaside town. Denker credibly conveys her fall from grace and the consequences of her inaccurate predictions, along with her inability to examine herself and her insensitivity, which cause heartaches for both Melanie and her clients. The relationship between Melanie and her childhood friend Connacht Garvey strongly parallels that of Austen’s Emma and Mr. Knightley; Connacht repeatedly scolds Melanie for her blunders. Her gradual development of self-awareness and determination to repair the damage she’s caused are heartwarming. In addition to Melanie’s lively first-person narrative, there are a few surprises that keep this sweet story about social graces entertaining. (BookLife)