I confess I’m not a fan of the Shopaholic books. I tried one and I just couldn’t get in to it. I don’t mind books with heroines who are a little bit of a mess – I actually quite enjoy them because it reminds me that it’s okay that I’m a little bit of a mess – but there was just something about the Shopaholic books that I just couldn’t deal with. So I’ve always resisted Sophia Kinsella’s other books, thinking that they would be similar to Shopaholic. But I was recently desperate for something to read on a very long plane ride, and I snagged Can You Keep a Secret from my friend’s bookshelf.
And it wasn’t terrible. In fact, I kind of got in to the story, and it kept me busy during the long hours of sitting in the middle seat on a flight from Anchorage to Seattle with a weird smelly old man on the aisle (who insisted his wife was “just fine alone” in the middle seat behind us even though the relatively good looking and probably not stinky at all man who was sitting in the aisle behind me offered to switch with him), and my kid at the window (who watched Wizards of Waverly Place on repeat). I’m not a frequent flyer. Clearly.
Anyway, I digress. When Can You Keep a Secret? opens, Emma is on an airplane, in first class. (I was not in first class, sadly.) Emma is not a good flyer and she’s chugging cocktails in an effort to calm her fears. Of course, there is a gorgeous American man sitting next to her (not at all like the weird smelly old man I was sitting next to), and when the plane hits turbulence, Emma has a meltdown, thinks she’s going to die, and spills all her secrets to her seatmate, including the fact that she doesn’t think she loves her boyfriend, she’s wearing a g-string that’s two sizes too small (ow), she hates her job, including several coworkers and the coffee maker, and she kind of sort of fudged her resume just a smidge. Gorgeous American Man picks her up, calms her down, gets her another mimosa, the plane lands safely, and they bid an awkward goodbye.
And then GAM shows up at Emma’s office. Turns out, his name is Jack Harper and he’s the owner of the company she works for. Turns out, Emma told her boss that she was wearing too-small knickers and hates her job and kind of sort of fudged her resume. Turns out, Emma kind of wants to crawl in a hole and hide for fifty years.
But Jack takes it all in stride, taking Emma under his wing a bit, quietly replacing the hated coffee maker, putting the awful coworkers in their place, and dishing out romantic advice on how best to handle her boring boyfriend. Jack presents his interest as just wanting a friendship, but Emma senses that he wants something more, and she’s not mistaken. And Emma, for her part, can’t stop thinking about Jack.
Of course, no romance would be complete without a Big Misunderstanding, and there is one in the form of Jack spilling some of Emma’s secrets on national television, and then there’s another in the form of a reporter trying to trick Emma in to spilling some of Jack’s secrets.
But in the end, of course, they come together, and everything is happy ever after, as if there was ever any doubt. The feminist in me had some troubling moments with the story; Jack is, after all, Emma’s boss and she was in very real fear of losing her job, so in real life, some of the story wasn’t cool, but it’s fiction, it’s a romance novel paperback, and I was an a four hour flight. I was willing to overlook things like possible sexual harassment. Plus, I kind of love books set in London, thanks to Bridget Jones. Jack wasn’t Mark Darcy (no one is Mark Darcy), but he certainly wasn’t Daniel Cleaver, either, so Emma didn’t make out too terribly bad.