The Out of Office Girl – Nicola Doherty

Alice Roberts is having a rubbish summer. She’s terrified of her boss, her career is stalling, and she’s just been dumped – by text message. But things are about to change… When her boss Olivia is taken ill, Alice is sent on the work trip of a lifetime: to a villa in Sicily, to edit the autobiography of Hollywood bad boy Luther Carson. But it’s not all yachts, nightclubs and Camparis; Luther’s arrogant agent Sam wants him to ditch the book. Luther himself is gorgeous, charming and impossible to read. There only seems to be one way to get his attention, and it definitely involves mixing business with pleasure. Alice is out of the office, and into deep trouble…

Books like The Out of Office Girl are my guilty pleasures. They’re easy and entertaining to read, and books from Louise Bagshawe and Sophie Kinsella have always been staples on my shelf. However, it’s easy to overstep the mark when writing these types of book and make them too fluffy and meaningless, or to over-exaggerate and make them too life-is-entirely-amazing. It’s therefore hard to find an author who writes them well – but Nicola Doherty, with her debut novel, immediately joins the ranks of Bagshawe and Kinsella. The Out of Office Girl is a sassy, amusing read that regularly prompts ‘oh-my-God-that-would-so-happen-to-me’ moments (luggage getting lost on a flight, the consumption of one too many drinks) that makes it relatable and down to earth.

Alice Roberts is fed up with her life; she’s just been dumped by text and she’s constantly working overtime – not that she minds it when her spare time is spent researching hunk Luther Carson, who has just signed a book deal with her publishing house. However, the project stalls when Luther fails to produce a decent manuscript and Alice’s bossy manager falls ill, leaving Alice to visit Luther in Sicily and get a publishable story out of him. But things aren’t going to be quite that simple, as the young assistant editor soon finds out; when she comes face to face with Sam, Luther’s steely agent, it quickly becomes clear that he is completely opposed to the publication of the book. After a series of false starts, Alice finally manages to get the star to sit down and tell his story in full. But complications start arising, and when Alice realises her crush on Luther has been somewhat misplaced, everything threatens to fall apart…

The Out of Office is a fantastic debut novel. Full of humorous, punchy dialogue and a likeable heroine (I especially like the use of the first-person narrative) plus a cast of somewhat colourful characters – including the brilliant love-to-hate Annabel – this is definitely the new mainstay of my bookshelf. The only downside to the novel is how broke it’s going to make me after I’ve decided I have to visit the villa that is so sumptuously described in the story…

Many thanks to Headline for the review copy.

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