Life seems to be looking up for Holly Denham. Her adorable boyfriend, Toby, is suave and attentive; her receptionist position at a high-powered bank in London keeps her busy while also providing ample opportunity to socialize. But when Holly (finally!) earns a promotion, there’s someone eager to tear her down: Tanya, a snobby fellow manager with her sights set on Toby. And she’s ready to tackle Holly’s confidence to the ground just when her other relationships become tenuous. Can she hold strong?
Through a series of daily emails, Holly’s Inbox: Scandal In The City — the sequel to the highly entertaining Holly’s Inbox — reveals far more about a group of characters than you’d expect from a tome filled with only electronic correspondence. Holly is as charmingly disheveled as ever, though trying to put a hold on her partying ways long enough to earn some clout with her employers.
This series’ charm comes through its ability to tap into that voyeuristic side in all of us. If a coworker you may or may not like stepped away from their desk, leaving Outlook or Gmail open in full view, would you be able to resist the siren call of snooping? I’d like to think I could, but who knows. That same urge to sift through someone’s medicine cabinet, book collection or purse is what makes Holly’s Inbox so compelling.
Unfortunately, what worked so well for me in the original lost a bit of its luster in the sequel. Reading Holly’s emails in the first novel felt like a fresh endeavor, but here? Well, I feel like I’ve read it all before. My curiosity was satisfied. Favorite characters like well-meaning best friends Jason and Aisha have returned, along with fellow receptionist Trisha, but newcomers like Tanya felt less like real people and more like archetypical “villains” — and people I wouldn’t actually know. Plus, the juxtaposition of Holly advancing in her career while still acting ridiculous in her personal life — drinking herself into oblivion; generally acting like a debauched teenager — didn’t quite add up for me. If she’s such a dynamo on the job, how can she be such a screw-up on her own time?
Maybe that’s not unusual. Maybe I’m expecting a little too much from a fun, light-hearted read. I didn’t consume this one as quickly as I did the first, and found myself less enthused at Holly as a character than I once was. Still, fans of British chick lit who also enjoy the epistolary style will probably enjoy Holly’s misadventures. If you’re new to the Denham books, I’d recommend starting at the beginning — and then maybe we’ll decide our girl isn’t beyond redemption after all.
3.5 out of 5!