You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me by Sarra ManningYou Don't Have To Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning
Published February 2011
Genres: Contemporary Romance
four-stars
Format: eBook
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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 who?

Neve Slater has one goal: fit into a size 10 dress by the time the love of her life William (who doesn’t actually know he is) comes back from a 3-year stay in the United States. And while Neve used to be morbidly obese and already lost over 100 pounds, there are other things that she is conscious she has to work on before William returns, such as the art of being in a relationship or even making love.

“She was twenty-five and it turned out that she had needs that couldn’t be satisfied by her own hand and a one-armed read of Anaïs Nin’s Delta of Venus any more.”

That’s when she gets the idea of having a pancake relationship: like the first pancake you make, a “practice-pancake” that never turns out quite right and that you usually discard for a much better-looking pancake. Her one and only pancake applicant is womanizing player Max, who is happy to teach Neve whatever she wants to know.

But what if they realize that the first pancake in the stash just looks weird, but still tastes the same?

What I loved about this book:

  • The characters were funny and easy to relate too
  • The story and setting oozed British charm

What I felt needed improvement:

  • The book was too weight-centered
  • The plot was a tad predictable

This book’s theme is pretty much Bridget Jones-ish: slightly chubby girl (though the chubbyness is debatable here) falls in love with the guy she can’t have. Except that there is a slight twist: instead of ending up with the cute, intelligent and well-behaved Colin Firth, she actually gets her funk on with manwhore Hugh Grant.

The book’s story is not exactly complicated, but the book is very lengthy because many scenes contains lots of descriptive details, which people either love or hate. I found it quite nice, but if it didn’t have the English/London charm, I probably would have been annoyed by that.

I liked the English charm that the story held (I always feel that English authors and tehir stories have a completely different feel to them). And the fact that it was based in London, in a neighborhood I know quite well was really fun!

This book is extremely centered on weight, weight-loss and outer beauty. So much that it can become extremely annoying. Neeve has this goal, and wants to be a size 10 when her crush William is back from his 3-year US exile, and believe he’ll love her at first sight after stepping down the plane and seeing how she changed for him. Well, in some ways Neeve also changed for herself, because she was morbidly obese, but as a reader, you quickly find out that the 3-days a week gym sessions, the no carbs-diet etc, is mostly for William’s benefit.

I got sick and tired of reading about how Neeve went out of her way to work on her figure. There wasn’t one page where this wasn’t at the center, and yes, it annoyed me partly because it always came up, and partly because I felt fat constantly reading about this. Believe me, I have my share of weight-issues too!

“Even if you starved yourself down to a size zero, you’re always going to be a fat girl, Neevy,” Max whispered in her ear, as she shrank away from him. “You don’t know how to be anything else.”

But the characters were interesting from a development point of view: Neeve is obviously a very smart woman, but who’s slowly becoming an idiot (sorry!) because she’s letting appearances take the upper hand – when she should obviously know better – and is starving herself for a guy who has no intention whatsoever to engage into a relationship with her. And then cue Max, a womanizer and a player, who for some reason agrees to having a pancake relationship and has no issue at all with Neeve being a size 14 (which, of course, is weird because he used to date much skinnier women).

“You’re saving yourself for your one true love, and I’m trying to prove I’m more than just a fucktoy.”

I didn’t really like Max to begin with, because he was depicted as a true manwhore with no real respect for women. But little by little, I began to warm up to him (I guess the scenes with his dog Keith probably did me in – oh, and the singing in the car). In the end, I liked that despite the fact that Max’s motives for engaging into this pancake relationship weren’t exactly true and sincere, he still managed to fell for Neeve for all that she represents beyond her size 14, which by the way is a totally acceptable size.

The romance between the two really was sweet. However, there is one thing I didn’t like about the ending, and where the morale escaped me:

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But in the end, I did like You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me. The writing style was perfect too, and the 3rd person narrative, but from Neeve Slater’s POV only was quite frankly very-well mastered. And despite the fact that it was a bit lengthy and sometimes too weight-centered, it was charming, very funny, kind of sexy too, and also the kind of book you can somehow relate to.

Detailed Rating
Storyline
3 Stars
Characters
4 Stars
Writing
5 Stars
All the feels
4 Stars
Overall: four-stars