It’s been a hot minute since I last read Meg Cabot, but she, like Sarah Dessen, was a staple of my teen years. I remember sitting against the fence surrounding my junior high school track field, doing homework and reading the Princess Diaries between events. I even took up journaling every day just so I could be like Mia Thermopolis, and the habit hasn’t let up since. I’ve even re-read Avalon High and All-American Girl a few times.
Until a few years ago, I was not even aware that she wrote adult fiction. Although, I found that those books have drawn mixed results. And I can probably say the same about the first adult work of Cabot’s that I’ve read, No Offense.
Molly Montgomery has recently become the children’s librarian in Little Bridge, Florida after a broken engagement. But when Molly discovers an abandoned baby in the library bathroom, it sets off a chain reaction of events. She is suddenly best friends with the island’s premier gossip reporter, and has the town sheriff on speed dial. While Molly and said sheriff, named John Hartwell, race to find the baby’s mother, sparks begin to fly. John himself is fresh off a divorce so romance might not be easy. But who said it ever was?
It’s probably no secret that Meg Cabot’s style is all style and no substance. Well, by style, I mean fluff. One could even argue there is no style to her writing whatsoever. Although, I mean…it is a romance, so one would expect for the style to be about as fluffy as sundae whipped cream. But my critical eye could not help but shorten a LOT of the longer sentences. It wasn’t necessarily distracting, but it’s just not my preferred style.
I feel like the book kind of sold me the wrong story. The cutesy cover and the synopsis promised lots of sexual tension, witty banter, and all other chick lit schmaltz. We got some of that, but this felt more like a romance wrapped up in a mystery/crime book. Between John trying to catch a wanted criminal and Molly trying to help the baby’s mother, there isn’t a lot of time for romance.
Let’s just say John and Molly’s romance not going down in history. They had some chemistry, but not really enough to sustain their story. Probably because they don’t spend enough time together to truly form a romantic bond. I won’t spoil the ending, but I did kind of roll my eyes at the absurdity of it all.
Long story short, the mystery, and John and Molly’s individual stories, were way more compelling than the romantic aspect of it.
While, generally, Molly and John were serviceable characters, I don’t think their inner struggles were portrayed that well. For instance, Molly is coming out of a broken engagement, and John is recently divorced. Those two things don’t really come back into play through the story. I actually forgot what their backstories were until they came back at, like, the bitter end, when it was most convenient. Those could have been compelling struggles that would prevent them from getting together at first…but nope.
On the whole, this is not the best book I’ve read from Cabot. Maybe I was more tolerant of fluffier styles when I was a teen—or maybe that style is more fitted to the teenage reader, who knows? Either way, No Offense felt a little half-baked and, unless you’re a die-hard disciple of Cabot, I can’t really recommend it.