At 27, Alice seemed to had her life on track with a gorgeous husband, Joe, a cosy flat and a job lined up at the law firm where she was doing her training. Then a chance meeting brought Zoe, an old flame of Joe's back into their lives. If that wasn't bad enough, the Senior Partner at the law firm who had offered Alice the job left the company under a cloud of suspicion, causing Alice's job offer to evaporate. Grasping at straws, Alice finds herself working in the local pub, trying to reinvent herself while fending off Zoe, who she is convinced is out to steal Joe. Between sorting out blocked urinals and trying to snatch some time with her boyfriend, Alice finds a temptation of her own in the handsome fellow at the craft beer shop next door.
This is the fifth novel I have read by Sophie Ranald, author of It's Not You, It's Him, Out With the Ex, In With the New, Sorry, Not Sorry, and No We Can't Be Friends, and I was delighted to have another of her novels to keep me amused during the lockdown caused by the pandemic. Just Saying is a stand-alone novel, and while I did miss the characters from her previous series, this book holds up well on its own. It is funny, but it's not the simple, fluffy romantic comedy that the marketing suggests. Content warning- this book talks about sexual assault.
As with her other novels, Sophie Ranald skillfully blends some serious subject matter, like the #metoo movement and the deportation of immigrants, with comic moments and romance. The overall tone of the book was still fairly lighthearted, with a couple of quality "oh no he didn't!" moments. The characters are fleshed out and believable, and the dialogue is witty. Also, once again there is a cat- this time a ginger tabby named Frazzle, who Alice likes a lot more than his owner, Zoe. And there is flirty Scrabble, which is kind of adorable, much as I despise cheating behaviour in a romance.
I don't know who's responsible for the covers for Sophie Ranald's novels, but whoever it is doesn't seem to actually read the books. I don't know who the woman on the cover of this one is, since Alice is described as blonde with greeny-blue eyes and at no point in the story does she sit around on a chaise lounge fanning herself. The tagline, "who needs a boyfriend when you've got a bottle of wine?" has nothing to do with anything. They seem to have decided on booze as a theme, since it features on the cover of most of Ranald's novels regardless of the plot. Just Saying is a fun romantic comedy with a bit more nuance and depth than you'll find in some 'chick-lit'. It will appeal to fans of Sophie Ranald, Sophie Kinsella or Jennifer Crusie.
Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Bookouture, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.