REVIEW: The Piano Man Project by Kat French
Finding love isn’t always black and white…
Me: blonde, hopelessly romantic charity store manager
You: intelligent, kind-hearted, piano-playing Sex God
Honey Jones has a problem – she’s never had a boyfriend who’s really done it for her… Luckily her best friends Nell and Tash are determined to help, and so the hunt for Honey’s perfect man begins.
But when a stranger moves into the flat opposite, their plan soon goes awry. Hal is secretive, bad-tempered, and ticks none of Honey’s boxes.
Except maybe one…
Dear Ms. French,
I have a soft spot for Chick Lit books but though this description sounded like one, in reality it isn’t. It is a British contemporary but doesn’t have a 1st person point of view. Honey has a nondescript job but she enjoys it. There is a bit of a silly set up about how Honey thinks she has no orgasm gene and has 2 friends dying to set her up with a vibe or, lacking that, a Boy Friend who knows his way around a clitoris. The hero, however, nixes any thought that this is a light hearted book. There is also some head hopping from one paragraph to another that was annoying.
Honey is sweet and helpful of her older, volunteer co-workers. She is, as Hal calls her, a Girl Guide who can be out silenced and (slightly) badgered into saying what’s on her mind and in her head. Her sex life has now become the point of interest for 6 other people and that’s before she even meets the set-up date her friends found for her. So this part, yeah, it’s Chick Lit. I do appreciate that Honey isn’t necessarily dumped on so much as she’s kind and caring of the seniors in the nursing home. She takes on the world on her own vs having it thrust upon her and just accepting it.
Her best friends trying to set her up and manipulating her into dates gets a little heavy handed but I was surprised and pleased at her friend Nell and Nell’s marriage. I guess I’ve read too many books where the character with the seemingly happy marriage ends up in marital crisis so it was nice for a happy marriage to not only stay happy but improve.
From the start, I knew Hal was going to be interesting to read about. But I wasn’t sure that the description would be bad or good. He’s got some self-pity about losing his old glamorous lifestyle and profession but what attracts him to Honey is 1) she’ll bring him whisky and 2) she’s not self-conscious about his condition. He’s definitely got the rude angst thing going. But he will listen to her venting about her life, her day, her job and the way her friends set her up with wanker dates plus he offers to teach her how to make proper spag bol. Her enjoyment at learning to cook is infectious.
The elderly sisters are a bit twee even though the issue they’re fighting against – losing their home – isn’t. This part of the book actually worked best for me. I enjoyed watching the residents come together and peacefully protest against the closure of their retirement home. The seniors didn’t come across as too cute for words and Honey’s impassioned TV plea to remember the service they had done for the country during wartime was moving. I guessed who would ultimately come to the rescue though.
The subplot of Mimi, Lucille and their unknown brother seemed half finished. Did I miss the explanation about whether their brother had known about them and just not contacted them or if he’d just now found them? The resolution of their story petered out in the end. I needed a line or two about how the relationship was progressing during the final period of Hal’s sulking time.
Honey finds herself wanting to confide about her day to Hal even though he’s being a shit. Well 90% of him is but the other 10% still draws her to him. I had to laugh at how her description of him “doesn’t sell him” to her besties Tash and Nell. But then what she tells them would make most friends be either concerned about him or about her mental status. Of course their opinion is that he sounds like “bloody hard work” in the relationship department. Not that there is one at that point beyond “grouchy neighbor who can kiss like the plane is going down.”
At least Honey is thinking straight about how mysterious Hal is and that there’s something strange about the fact that she’s neither seen nor heard nor heard of any of his friends or family. But then she lets her body override her head. More than once.
Hal is worried for all the right reasons about getting too close to Honey. Her friends are worried too. Now she’s thinking of whether or not she is interested in him for himself or as a project. I also cringed at what Tash says about him and why. The description of and scene with the Mexican cook isn’t much better.
Hal ends up coming off as a clit-tease. When I’m reading the scene, I’m as hot and bothered as Honey is about him but once he puts her off (again) I mentally step back and think, “Honey, what are you doing??” Then Honey begins to change her opinion of a relationship with Hal. She finally sees that he’s broken and will break her too if she lets him. Until she changes her mind – or her body changes it for her – again. Honey finally grew a pair of ovaries and decided to steer her own course and take a hand in deciding her own fate even if that meant wallowing for Hal. Honey deserved more and better.
Okay Hal was still coming to terms with his blindness. He has his moments of rage at what he’s lost, what he can never do again. Also moments of doubt and self-pity. He misses the profession he loved, he misses the trappings and glitz but he misses chasing thrills and with his new life, he doesn’t know who he is anymore. But Hal … I got a touch fed up with Hal. His back and forth, his swearing every other word – I mean he certainly has a lot to accustom himself to but the 10% sweet and considerate and 90% snarling bastard ratio was wearing thin. His stubborn angst and martyr act made me want to wring his neck. Get over yourself Hal. Thank goodness Billy is there to give it to him straight, tell Hal to sink or swim but bloody do something besides wallow in his depression.
Finally reports of Honey moping for him and Billy verbally giving him a well needed kick get Hal off his arse. But for my money, it’s a great grovel and kiss up but far too little too late for all he puts Honey through. C