Poptastic by Victoria Holmes is a romance which manages to be both funny and more angst-filled than your typical pop song. It features Julia, a mid-twenties Londoner still finding her way in life. After scrolling through her dating app, Julia determines she must have run out of eligible ladies in London. Enter Krisha Mistry, a famous singer and judge on the television show Poptastic. Krisha and Julia quickly make a connection, and the story follows Julia as she navigates her relationship with Krisha, work, and bridesmaid duties in her good friend’s wedding.
Julia is relatable and makes impulsive choices typical of someone settling into adulthood. She’s always ready to prioritize a hot date over the responsibilities of her low-level administrative job. Meanwhile Julia, like the reader, is offered only glimpses into Krisha’s world.
Julia’s friends definitely share the spotlight in this novel. Kit is Julia’s best friend and a teacher who is happy to keep her own life drama-free. Lucy is in thrall to Nicole, who owns her own London flat but chooses to complain about the hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie. Freya is obsessively planning her wedding and holds her friends to very high bridesmaid standards. The dynamics of this friend group provide plenty of conflict but also ground the story.
The Writing Style
Poptastic was a well-paced and enjoyable read. There was nothing particularly groundbreaking or unpredictable, but sometimes angsty romance is just what the doctor ordered. Sex is alluded to but is not written graphically on the page. I enjoyed the book’s British-flavored humor, and of course I had a terrible craving for biscuits and crisps after reading.
Julia and her friends felt authentic to their stage of life. Descriptions of Julia’s administrative job were spot-on in my experience, and I cheered when Julia decided to make hard choices in order to realize her potential.
The novel includes a scene of self-harm. It is not very graphic but this topic may be a no-go for some readers.
Pick up this novel if you are looking for a diversion from everyday life and a great reminder that, as the Spice Girls sang, “friendship is forever.”
Excerpt from Poptastic by Victoria Holmes
A higher calibre of lesbian was in circulation at the second-floor cocktail bar Tom took them to next. Eager to check out the talent, Julia offered to get a round in, but as she took drinks orders she noticed that Tom and Matteo were missing. After a quick search she soon spotted them snogging vigorously on a corner sofa.
The evening was turning out very strangely indeed. Julia was just thinking how nice it would be to go away for her next birthday when she noticed a petite Asian woman in a figure-hugging red dress entertaining a group of friends with a lively story.
‘And then she turned around, and it was only Taylor Swift!’ the woman said as the people around her erupted with laughter, ‘so, I said how about it anyway, and we shared them,’ at which point her audience positively roared.
Julia caught a glimpse of the funny lady’s face as she turned to take a sip from her wine glass. It was Krisha Mistry, the singer who was now a judge on Poptastic.
Julia’s breath caught in her throat. Krisha was devastatingly attractive and notoriously bisexual, having gone through a very public breakup with a stunning American actress the year before.
The barman sounded irritated as he asked for the second time what Julia wanted, and she ripped her gaze away for just long enough to give her order before resuming ogling. She was still staring when suddenly Krisha’s eyes fixed on hers.
Julia dropped her gaze immediately–cultured and sophisticated Londoners didn’t lose their shit every time they saw a celebrity in a bar. However, it took her less than five seconds to decide that sophistication was overrated and sneak another look. When she saw that Krisha was still looking back, she completely bottled it.
Don’t panic and don’t do anything weird, she instructed herself under her breath, which probably did look a bit off.
By the time Julia’s nerve had returned, Krisha had resumed talking with her friends. She feared she’d lost her forever, but before the last drink was poured, Krisha’s eyes found hers again.
The beginnings of huge ambition stirred in Julia–the hope that if she played her cards just right–if she was witty and charming and cunning–then maybe she might just manage to hook up with Krisha Mistry. Adrenaline forced her alcohol-addled brain into action. She had only the smallest of openings before this magnificent opportunity slipped away forever but was still paralysed by indecision when she saw a shapely red bust gliding towards her.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 978-1838000417
- Publisher: Indie author
- Victoria Holmes Online
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Note: I received a free review copy of Poptastic by Victoria Holmes. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site.