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A while ago I came across a couple of reviews for 'The Model Wife' by Julia Llewellyn. I subsequently borrowed that book from the library and enjoyed it sufficiently to remember the author and look out for more of her novels.
The Love Trainer is actually Llewellyn's debut novel which was first published in 2004. Sometimes reading the early work of an author you've enjoyed reading is a bit risky, as you can find that writing improves with age and experience. In this instance, I actually found The Love Trainer to be even better than The Model Wife so I'd recommend anybody who has enjoyed that one to give this a go too.
The Love Trainer is a story about Katie Wallace who, through a misunderstanding, ends up working as a cleaner for a glamourous publisher, Rebecca. As the story progresses, Katie turns out to be a pretty terrible cleaner (resulting in a few humourous episodes in the story) but does get to know Rebecca and starts to advise her on her disastrous love life. Eventually, Rebecca has the idea of marketing Katie as a 'love trainer' offering bespoke advice to people on the state of their relationships and encouraging them to train their partners as if they were dogs!
Make no mistake, this book is fluffy, easy reading chick lit, through and through. If you don't like books by Kinsella, Keyes, Jane Green and the like then this is unlikely to be a book you'd enjoy. Personally, I loved it. I particularly liked the storyline as it was slightly different from the standard chick-lit plot - 'girl meets boy, something stands in their way, they eventually get together...' Yawn! Having said that, this book doesn't particularly surprise the reader. The ending is a typically happy one with all loose ends and issues resolved. There are moments of good humour throughout the book though and it is a genuinely enjoyable read.
The only real criticism that I would have is that are slightly too many characters involved in the story. There are two principal female characters (Katie and Rebecca) in the story and each of them has a group of friends and potential lovers in the novel, making it difficult at times to keep up with who was who and what their 'story' was. Despite that, I can't see how any of the characters could easily be written out of the story, as Katie's romantic advice and 'training' leads to relationships cropping up between different characters in the book. The book is written in the third person throughout which works well. I don't think trying to write different chapters in the voice of different characters or anything like that would really have worked in this story.
This is not the best of its kind, by any means, and I can't say that is particularly memorable or moving but it is an easy and enjoyable read. I would definitely recommend this for a nice cosy 'snuggled under the duvet' Winter read and will keep looking out for more stories by Julia Llewellyn in the future.