Etta

Audiobook Review: The Man Ban

Published July 27th 2021

Author: Nicola Marsh

Narrators: Candace Moll & Dushan Philips

Audiobook Length: 9 hours 18 minutes

When you swear off men for the foreseeable future, that means no dating. Hookups don’t count, right?

Harper Ryland has been on a self-imposed man ban for the last twelve months, after a particularly horrible breakup. Instead, she’s focusing on the one thing she can control: her career as an up-and-coming food stylist. Harper’s latest gig is her best friend’s wedding, and she receives glowing praise throughout the night. When the Best Man, Manny Gomes, belittles her hard work, she wants to stab him with skewers from the buffet table, but she can think of something much better: to lead him on the entire wedding and then humiliate him in sweet revenge.

When the handsome Anglo-Indian doctor shows up in New Zealand a week later, while Harper’s on her first international job, it’s the last thing she needs. Everything about him rubs her the wrong way, but when suave Manny steps in to help after an unfortunate disaster, his chivalry gets under her skin a little, and Harper discovers lifting her ban while overseas is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Manny isn’t looking for anything but fun either–especially not marriage, like his grandmother Izzy keeps pushing on him. But there’s something about Harper that makes him want more, even though she keeps her distance, and they’re about to discover how far he’s willing to go to be with her. . . .

After loving The Boy Toy, I was excited to read the author’s latest release, The Man Ban. Although it is not a sequel, one of the main character’s, Manny, was featured in the previous novel, while Samira, and Rory from The Boy Toy made appearances in this novel. Each can be read as a standalone and in any order if the reader wishes. Both stories are set in Australia, with this one taking a side trip to New Zealand, which both provided excellent backdrops.

Harper Ryland is in her 30s and a food stylist. After a recent break-up, Harper is ready to give up on love and begins her own man ban. When she attends a wedding and styles the food for the event, she meets the other main character Manish (Manny) Gomes, who is a 40-years-old Anglo-Indian ER doctor. The two of them meet and have undeniable chemistry. At first, Harper’s plan was to swear off all men, but she begins to wonder if maybe it is just love. Harper also has additional reasons that she keeps to herself about why a man ban is best. Manny is a confirmed bachelor with his own reasons. Together they try to fight the temptation to be together while getting to know each other over time.

The story goes into a lot of exploration into cultural expectations and outer appearances. Vitiligo, an autoimmune disease, is explored and it was well incorporated into the story for providing an explanation for those who want to learn about it while keeping the focus on the story. As the two characters continue to meet either on purpose or by coincidence, the two of them get to know each other. As the story progresses, the reader learns more about the secrets that lie between the characters. Both characters are complex and their potential obstacles for starting a relationship are not easy fixes. These obstacles require work and communication both characters and it was enjoyable to follow along their journeys.

Overall, the novel was very interesting and enjoyable. The novels continue to have an ease within the writing that is captivating and the chapters fly by. There is a nice balance of serious and light-heartedness in the story and the banter between the characters was fun.  Although I love the concept of a man ban, I wish the novel held off on Harper and Manny meeting. For me, I would have loved the beginning to focus mainly on Harper where the reader sees some time lapse with her imposed ban. Then, once she meets Manny, then the story continues as this novel presents. Even without this, though, the story was still incredibly enjoyable and I will easily continue to read more novels from this author!

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