Plot: Lola is an aspiring designer but she doesn’t believe in fashion, she believes in costume. She lives that belief every day and life has been pretty good: she has bold plans for the future, outrageous clothes, loving parents and friends and a hot rocker boyfriend. But when the Bell twins move back in next door, it dreadges up memories of terrible heartbreak. Lola suddenly has to deal with a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
I loved Anna and the French Kiss and though I was looking forward to the companion book, I didn’t think there was any way Perkins could top her wonderful, romantic debut. I was wrong. I fell in love all over again.
Though it is as sweet and romantic, this is a very different story from Perkin’s first novel: rather than exploring a new city and experiencing new things, this novel is more about coming to appreciate those things that have been there all along (although ironically I’ve been to Paris, but not San Francisco). Anna and Lola are also different; Lola being much more outgoing. But they both have interests (movies, fashion) which they pursue with such passion that you cannot help but love them. Lola is fun and her costumes are fabulous and though she makes mistakes, I admire her efforts to make things right again.
I was already so fond of Lola that I was ready to dislike Cricket Bell for having broken her heart two years before. But as soon as he walked into the story, all long legs (in tight pants!), bright smiles, silly inventions and little kidnesses, my heart melted. He is absolutely adorable and endlessly sweet. The best part about him is how supportive he is of his figure skating sister and of Lola’s excentricities. I dare you not to fall in love with him.
This is another heartwarming romance with a wonderful cast of characters set in a beautiful city. Lola and Cricket steal the show, of course, but there are so many other great characters. The one who made me tear up as she strived for her Olympic dreams was Calliope Bell. My sudden emotion surprised even me because Calliope had seemed at first little more than a mean, selfish princess. And then there are Lola’s dads, who love her so much. The best part about them was how they were introduced: as if it wasn’t an issue at all. I look forward to a day where there are parents like them in so many stories that we don’t even blink anymore.
This is not a sequel, but fans of Perkin’s first novel will be happy to know that Anna and Étienne make regular appearances and that they’re still in love. Perkins’ next book will be another companion, Isla and the Hapily Ever After (2013). There is no plot summary yet but from the title we can guess that it stars Isla from the first novel. I can’t wait!