Jacquelyn Middleton’s London, Can You Wait?, the sequel to London Belongs to Me, will both break your heart and make it swell.
Sometimes in rapid succession, sometimes at the same time. And you 1000% should pick it up and read it.
About ‘London, Can You Wait?’ by Jacquelyn Middleton
Alex loves Mark. Mark loves Alex. But is love enough?
Since moving to London from the US, twenty-four-year-old Alex Sinclair seems to have it all: a coveted job writing for the theatre, supportive friends, and the man of her dreams—gorgeous Irish actor, Mark Keegan. But in the year since the acclaimed debut of her play, Alex and Mark’s lives have been turned upside down.
Thanks to his role on a smash-hit British TV show, Mark is catapulted to stardom. Alex couldn’t be happier—until her boyfriend’s popularity and insatiable drive to succeed means they’re apart more than they’re together. Forced to share Mark with showbiz heavy-hitters, intrusive press, and unrelenting fangirls, Alex’s hopes for a stable and committed life with him start to fade. Her struggles with panic attacks, career uncertainty, and Mark’s increasingly worrisome behavior make her wonder: how much more can she bend before she breaks?
A passionate tale of secrets, loss, and ambition, London, Can You Wait? is the eagerly-awaited sequel to Middleton’s debut novel, London Belongs to Me.
‘London, Can You Wait?’ book review
Before I start weeping and word-vomiting about all of the things that London, Can You Wait? did to me and my heart, I feel like I need to go back to the series’ beginning really quickly.
The best way I can describe London Belongs to Me, the first novel in this series, is that it’s like Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl for the modern adult. It’s chock-full of geeky goodness — like explanations on how internet friends can become the best IRL friends you ever have (which I have personal experience with) — and heartwarming adult growing pains moments and the most beautiful friendships you’ll ever read. (For more of my thoughts on London Belongs to Me, here’s my Goodreads review.)
But London Belongs to Me left me with soooo many questions. Luckily, that’s where London, Can You Wait? comes in.
Where the first novel was almost exclusively focused on Alex and her scriptwriting career and just trying to settle herself in London (with romance frustratingly hanging out on the periphery of the story), the sequel is very heavily focused on Alex’s relationships with her boyfriend and her closest friends. It’s almost like the sequel takes the most downplayed aspects of the first novel and amplifies them, while also downplaying the most central aspects of the first novel.
This switch is definitely welcome in terms of the romance — which I will get to in a minute — as well as Alex’s anxiety. In fact, while they were introduced and touched on in the first novel, anxiety and panic attacks played a really prevalent role in this sequel in terms of their occurrences as well as Alex’s attempts to get them under control. I love how this novel has honest conversations about mental health and issues and makes a point of discussing how to treat and take care of oneself.
But, I have to say, the thing I love most about this novel is Mark. And Alex’s relationship with him. Their romance is the beating heart of this novel and is the subject of about 75% of it (if not more). London, Can You Wait? isn’t afraid to dive into the good, the bad, and the ugly of adult relationships.
One of the biggest differences between how adult relationships were portrayed in the first and second novels is that, in London, Can You Wait?, Jacquelyn Middleton doesn’t hold back. While there aren’t any full-on sex scenes, this novel doesn’t feel chaste like its predecessor. It feels real. Plus, discussions of sex and sexuality are never judgmental or patronizing. From describing the body’s natural response to romantic touches to discussing the consequences of sexual relationships, this book doesn’t hold back and it’s all the better for it.
London, Can You Wait? also doesn’t hold back in terms of emotions. Oh my goodness. I felt like I was on the most intense rollercoaster while reading this novel. I can’t even begin to count how many times Alex and Mark (Mark mainly, let’s be honest) made my heart soar. And there were just as many times where I felt like the novel had reached into my chest and decimated my heart. The emotions in this novel are no joke.
That being said, I wish discussions of Alex’s career (or even lack thereof) didn’t take such a backseat to the intense relationship drama. I know that relationship drama can bleed into every aspect of someone’s life (trust me, I’ve been there), but, while Alex’s writing and theater passion was so prevalent in the first book, it was almost nonexistent in this sequel.
The odd time jumps didn’t help that. I like how this novel takes place over a couple of years of these characters’ lives, but the time jumps are really jarring sometimes. They can jump as much as 18 months in the future without really giving any indication of what happened in the time between. I think fewer or, perhaps, more time jumps with less time in between, could have helped alleviate the issue of not seeing a lot Alex in her career and outside of her relationship with Mark.
But honestly, those are really my only complaints about this novel. And they’re very small ones.
I don’t personally know if there’s going to be another installment in this series (from the way the novel ends, it doesn’t seem likely), but I just don’t feel done with Alex, Mark, and all of their friends. If anything, I have even more questions about their lives and their paths after finishing this latest installment and I’m afraid I’ll never get to spend time with the gang again.
I loved surprise relationships between group members as well as the central female relationship. While they have their disagreements and squabbles, you can tell that everything they do is out of love for one another. No pairing or interaction ever felt forced or disingenuous. In fact, I felt like these were all friends that I had here in the real world. (If only. *sigh*)
There are some novels that are just so good and so consuming that it feels like you’re watching them play out with your eyes rather than just reading about them. London, Can You Wait? is definitely one of them. You’ll find yourself thinking about it — and its array of vibrant and wonderful characters — long after you finish reading the last page.