Genre - Contemporary Women's fiction
THINGS TO DO is a contemporary romantic comedy set in London and moving to Spain. Emma Morgan, twenty-four-year old reluctant travel agent, has a life which feels more like Doris Day than Bridget Jones.
Emma has a problem trying to work out her relationship with Marco, the handsome Caribbean beach barman she married in haste and left in secret six month's earlier.
Rob, who works with Emma at the travel agency, has been her best friend since college. Emma thinks he's in love with her attractive and glamorous sister Fiona, who in turn is engaged to a Harley Street doctor.
Emma's troubles begin when she is coerced into working as a fairy waitress at a charity bachelor auction organized by Fiona, where Fiona's fiancé calls off their engagement, Rob's bunny-boiling ex-girlfriend successfully bids for a date on a yacht with him, and Emma's mother starts dating Emma's rather toad-like and tipsy boss.
Bunny-boiling ex girlfriend is just brilliant. This is the kind of imaginative description that makes me think there’s a damn good novel behind this synopsis.
That same night, Marco makes a dramatic reappearance in Emma's life, swearing he loves her and really wants their marriage to work. Swept up by his declarations, Emma agrees to give him another chance. However, it quickly becomes apparent even to the ever-trusting Emma that his furtive and unpredictable behavior suggests that he has some highly undesirable secrets. Has he followed her to England for love, citizenship, or something more sinister?
When Emma's other best friend Sara suggests that her partner might know about Marco's secrets - including his close friendship and connections with Everton, a local gangster - life ceases just being problematic for Emma and starts to become dangerous.
Emma is kept busy trying to help everyone else around her, including sorting out Sara's relationship woes when Sara becomes convinced her partner, the father of her baby, is having an affair.
Events move rapidly as Marco attempts to ingratiate himself into Emma's, life much to the concern of her friends. Emma's flat is burgled in mysterious circumstances at the same time as a local gangland shooting occurs. A pampered pooch belonging to Rob's ex-girlfriend is dognapped and Emma's sister Fiona gets revenge on her cheating fiancé by maxing out his credit cards and pawning her engagement ring.
Marco's involvement with an international drug cartel places Emma and her friends at risk as the drug barons try to find out where the double-crossing Marco has stashed the profits from the consignment of narcotics he was meant to be minding.
Emma's story moves on to a date worse than death when Rob and his ex-girlfriend spend their auction prize date on board a yacht moored in Puerto Banus, Spain - an unlikely setting for a Yardie gang master and a heroin shipment.
Fiona is in attendance as the official charity chaperone, and Marco convinces Emma they should go too and have a holiday to sort out their relationship. Emma is reluctant, but Rob's desperation at not being stranded in another country with the ex-girlfriend who's been stalking him for weeks changes her mind.
Emma's doubts about Marco's desire to make the marriage work are confirmed when she and Rob overhear a conversation which could have lethal consequences for them both. It also opens Emma's eyes to Rob's true feelings for her, and hers for him.
Back in England after the date, Marco disappears with his loot and a visit from Special Branch leads Emma to discover her marriage to Marco wasn't legal - Marco had forgotten to mention that he was already married, as well as being wanted in several other countries for a series of serious offenses committed under different names.
A second, more disturbing visit from Everton's associates who are equally keen to find Marco - places Emma in jeopardy. Only the direct intervention of Everton, who has a soft spot for Emma, saves her from harm.
Fiona's grand wedding to a new suitor at a stately country manor provides the backdrop as the Yardie gang attempt to recover their goods, which Marco has stashed in an unsuspecting Fiona's care. A rescue squad led by the unlikely forms of Emma's mother and Emma's boss come to the aid of Emma and her sister as Fiona's big day degenerates into chaos.
Throughout the story Emma attempts to keep control of the events around her with the aid of her lists of "Things to Do". Scatterbrained and disorganized, Emma lurches from one disaster to another, always firmly convinced she's in control of the situation.
Emma consistently fails to notice the things that are right under her nose, like Marco's lies and Rob's love for her. It's only when her life unravels at a rate of knots that Emma finally realizes that love and lust are two very different things, and although it's hard to tell them apart, the most dramatic few months of her life give her the gift of doing so.
Killer Yapp here: What happens to the victim of the dognapping?? Email me at once.
Miss Snark here: This is an excellent synopsis, one of the best I’ve ever seen. Notice that it not only tells what happens, you get a sense of the characters and the format when she mentions the Things To Do lists. It’s ok to tell not show in a synopsis (example: Emma consistently fails to notice) because I have every confidence after reading this that the novel will show not tell. I’d read this in a heartbeat.