I haven’t read any other works written by Sarra Manning other than this one. I picked up this book because I loved its description and thought it will be an interesting read. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me is the story of Neve Slater, a shy and good-natured girl working in the London Literary Archives who is trying to redefine herself and during this process, she meets Max, her sister’s boss.
The story follows Neve’s journey. Neve is a simple girl who loves her work, and she keeps to herself. She is in love with William, her college friend, who has been in LA for the last three years, and they have an intellectual connection. She wants him to fall head over heels for her when he comes back to London and has been working on her transformation. Neve is insecure about the way she looks. She has always been teased about her weight, and that has made her very self-conscious over the years.
William seems perfect in every way, and so, Neve wants to transform herself for him. Her sister Celia tells her that she needs experience in dating and with men if she is supposed to mesmerize William. This is where Max comes into the picture. He is sexy and arrogant, bouncing from one girl to another. Neve thinks that Max is so anti her type that he is the perfect guy to experiment with because she can never consider a serious relationship with someone like him. Their first meeting doesn’t go as planned. They start spending more time together and slowly fall in love.
The characters and pace of the novel keep you hooked from the beginning. The way the book is written; it is very engaging and fun. Neve is an authentic and well-written character. Her behavior, her flaws, and her reactions all seem completely authentic. She has been teased and body-shamed for years by people around her. It plays a big part in how she views herself. Not only she is insecure about her looks, but it affects all aspects of her life, including her relationships. The struggle she goes through because of this is portrayed realistically throughout the novel. She starts feeling better about herself as the story progresses, but it never goes away completely.
Neve and Max’s relationship is very cute. The progression of their relationship is slow and builds up slowly, which is nice, it adds a realistic feel to their romance. They start feeling something more for each other than either of them had originally planned. The change is easily observed in the way their attitudes start changing towards each other. Both of them have that realization that they are falling in love with each other, but it is never said out loud. I liked that they never needed to explicitly state their feelings; they just knew. Max is a typical character in some ways. The change in his behavior and how he slowly starts caring about Neve is a gradual change.
The love story progresses at a good pace. It was a little predictable when Wiliam does finally return, but it didn’t bother me. Neve and Max sort out their issues by the end, and though there is no epilogue as such, their happy ending is clearly hinted. The story moved at a good pace throughout and never felt like it was dragging on. The way the relationships evolved in the story is done realistically and naturally. Nothing starts happening too quickly, the characters take their time with their actions and relationships, which keeps the story grounded. This novel is not just about the endearing love story, but it is about Neve’s journey. By the end of it, she feels like a better version of herself, it comes from within.
You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me is a lovely story. In a sense, it is what you would expect by reading the description, yet it is more than it seems. The world Sarra Manning has created with these characters seems true to our real world in many ways. The way the characters are written adds something special to this novel. I know I going to re-read it at some point again. I loved reading this book.
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