I knew I was going to love The Flirt by about page 10. I also knew it was a perfect holiday read which I should put down and save until I was actually on holidays - but I couldn't help myself. I kept right on reading. Maybe it was a book oasis in the middle of a long year - a much needed break from serious academic reading - in other words, just what I needed!
I have read both of Kathleen Tessaro's earlier novels, Elegance and Innocence. I loved Elegance and jumped to buy Innocence when it first came out but I was a little disappointed and felt it didn't quite live up to her first novel. So, I was a little hesitant when it came to The Flirt - once bitten twice shy so to speak. I'm glad I eventually gave in though.
The Flirt covers the lives, or at least moments in the lives of, quite a few characters and there are interwoven moments and exchanges between a lot of them as the story moves along. The main characters however are a charming, love struck young man by the name of Hughie Venables-Smythe (don't you just love the English names!), tough love-dismissive Leticia Vane and wealthy but extremely unhappy and lonely Olivia Bourgalt du Coudray.
Hughie is a little down on his luck and out of cash when he applies for a job asking for "an attractive, well-mannered, morally flexible young man" - with that description the possibilities could be endless but the job turns out to be Flirting (as a profession) with women across the city who are feeling neglected, disappointed, rejected or lonely.
Olivia is one of Hughie's "clients" and Leticia is a woman he has been involved with but must now end their relationship in order to take up the position with the flirting agency.
I know the premise sounds a little dubious but I really felt it worked - you just have to suspend your belief about the world for a moment and step into the world of the flirt - romantic and hopeful. What a nice idea!