Reviewed for Chick Lit Central; be sure to click on the link to enter the giveaway!
When Claire Nelson decided that her happily-ever-after lay not in marriage but in a spot on the New York Times bestseller list, she vowed never to tie the knot. But that was before she met Paul Mendez, handsome and charming enough to have her breaking said vow and marrying him shortly after college.
Almost fifteen years and four sons later, Claire is now a burned out breadwinner ready to ditch her quest for happily-ever-after, and Paul has traded his dream of chairing corporate board meetings for volunteering at PTA meetings as a stay-at-home dad. Feeling trapped in a demanding job, Claire’s repeated attempts to get Paul to return to work fall flat. Contemplating divorce, she drafts a letter to the Plate Spinner, a popular advice columnist, asking for help. But when the reply contains an offer that may just put her bestselling author dreams back on track, Claire’s only question is: will Paul be on board? Or does her charming husband make a surprise move of his own? (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon)
I can very much relate to Help Wanted. Like Claire, I’m married. I have two rambunctious boys who I’m constantly having to tend to. Although I’m in a much happier place in my own marriage, and I’m not the burnt out breadwinner of the family, I know what it’s like to have a certain vision, an image of how the future will look, and how it feels to not achieve that due to all the various stepping stones of life. I liked the unique perspective Barbara Valentin has brought to light with this incredible novel. I get to identify from the stay-at-home perspective with Paul, while still yearning for my own dreams and aspirations that have fallen short, like Claire’s.
Even though Claire is struggling, inwardly, she wants to fall in love with Paul again, and Paul feels the same way about Claire. That’s another thing I loved about Help Wanted. It’s not often you find a novel that embraces and encourages marital bonds. The issue, though, is whether these two can make it work. Can they find happiness together, or will they be better off apart?
Mixed in are the subtle nuances that reminded me of The Gift of the Magi. Claire and Paul are both in a really tough place, financially and emotionally, yet there are situations where they end up trying to help one another without the other one even realizing it. There is a lot of charm and humor as well, which made this an easy read and one that I had a hard time putting down. That’s probably why I had no trouble reading it in two days! I’ll also stubbornly admit that I got a little teary-eyed towards the end, and I absolutely loved the ending. It was the perfect finish and one of my favorite endings, hands down.
I’m looking forward to reading the first book in this series, False Start. If it’s anywhere near as delightful as Help Wanted, I know I’m in for a treat!