Monkey Love

Published By: NAL Trade

Book Category: Fiction, Humorous

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Reviewed by Carrie Padgett

You come to a book named Monkey Love with certain expectations. And Brenda Scott Royce's debut novel meets them. It's funny, absurd, endearing-and there's a monkey.

While it's tempting to classify Monkey Love as chick lit, it won't allow itself to be shoe horned into just one category.

Holly Heckerling is a single woman, in her mid-twenties in New York City, making a living as a Jill-of-all-trades. She cuts hair, does freelance word processing, prepares taxes, pet sits, and has a stand-up comedy routine with a partner. Her extended family is eccentric and crazy, just like in all the best screwball comedies.

Holly and her boyfriend break up at the beginning of the book and it's not long before she has two new romantic possibilities. She meets Tom and his five-year-old daughter, Nicole, at the local Starbucks. Holly performs a random act of kindness by trimming Nicole's bangs so she can be presentable in her school pictures. And a new typing client has captivated her with his haunting prose about losing his wife and leaving his daughter behind in his grief.

The title monkey is a pet-care assignment that turns Holly's already unstable life into chaos. But the money ultimately is a large part of her awakening as she finally figures out how to make a living in New York with a college degree in primatology.

Royce captures Holly's emotional roller coaster well, keeping the action moving along at a fast clip but allowing you times to catch your breath. There's plenty of room for a sequel, though Royce has enough characters with potential to do a series.

The humor is organic, growing nicely from the characters and the situations. As weird as the supporting characters are, we all can relate to someone just like them in our own families, so they ring at least semi-true.

The ending is logical and well set up. It was clear to me from early on whom Holly would end up with and who the mystery client was. It took Holly a little longer to figure it all out.

Armchair Interviews says: A very enjoyable book for all kinds of readers.

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