Friday, February 10, 2012

Book Review: What Stays in Vegas by Beth Labonte

Beth Labonte’s first novel, What Stays in Vegas, is the literary equivalent of biting into a chocolate candy and discovering it has a caramel center – in other words, like an old favorite.

Following in the tradition of many “chick-lit” writers before her, the storyline is somewhat predictable: think Bridget Jones’ Diary or even its literary ancestor, Pride and Prejudice. However, Labonte’s sense of humor and witty take on the excesses of Las Vegas make this a fun read. Tessa Golden, the protagonist, is a former art major who has fallen into the unfortunate career path of administrative assistant. As Tessa herself says, “You know you’re in a dead-end job when you get a holiday forcing people to appreciate you.” Even though her characters are over the top at times, Labonte gives them depth – and in so doing, creates people the reader can really care about. The subplot featuring Tessa’s boss, by the way, is brilliant.

I had a hard time putting this book down, probably because I have a soft spot for chick lit – especially around Valentine’s Day. As a regular visitor to Las Vegas, I was pleased to find that Labonte captured both the spirit and the geography of the place perfectly. (I wasn’t aware that Las Vegas had an art museum – now I’ll have to visit it!) The book could use one final polish – I marked a few more than twenty errors, though they were minor and didn’t affect the overall story.

This isn’t Labonte’s first book, but it is her first full-length novel. I previously reviewed Coffee Breath on this blog, which is also a lot of fun. I recommend visiting the author’s blog as well, where she frequently lampoons office life. Yes, it’s true – I’m a fan. I can’t wait to read whatever she writes next!

Oh, and I’d really like to have one of Tessa’s binder-clip Eiffel Towers.

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