Cover Image: It's Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake

It's Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake

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You know that experience where it's the middle of the night and you've accidentally started watching decades-old reruns of Sex and the City on E! or some random other channel, and you're suddenly absolutely horrified by how horrendously everyone treats their sexual partners? 

That's this book. 

There's even a moment late in the novel wherein our protagonist has an actually very cute and poingant conversation with her boyfriend's teenaged son about treating his sexual partners with respect, and I wanted to scream because that's good advice but lady I've known you for three hundred fucking pages and you have literally NEVER done that! No one hates people they choose to sleep with as much as Noni does. They're interchangeable hatable sex toys for almost all of this goddamn book. And, frankly, sometimes it seems like everybody's so drunk that one or both parties in every encounter is only dubiously able to consent. Why in the fuck did I read this. 

Admittedly, there are some good and even great parts of this novel. Our protagonist is bisexual, and it's nice that's not something she angsts about even though the book bizzarely does absolute summersaults to avoid using the actual word, like it somehow has cooties. The endgame love interest is a delight, especially once Noni stops treating him like an interchangeable sex toy without a name. That teenaged son is so great he steals every scene he's in. Noni's friends are genuinely funny. It's compellingly written. 

But it's 1990's Sex and the City - candy-coated fun with a seedy underbelly. Yes, it's great and feminist to focus on a woman getting pleasure from sex - but not when it's at the expense of treating one's partner like a human being. Like, this story even fridges some random faceless nameless sexual conquest of a woman to kick off Noni's sex quest, because nobody else matters. That callousness is the initial incident and just leads to more and I...just couldn't get past that.
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Genre: Womens Fiction | Romance | LGBT+

Released: 21st February 2021

"There are about seven and a half billion people on the planet and I've had sex with eleven of them."

Noni Blake has no idea what's going on. It's been 18 celibate months since her and Joan split up and she can't even remember which days the bins go out without her. But after a very hot encounter with a very hot firefighter and being reminded that her vagina still works, she's ready for her quest. What started out as an innocent conversation with her best friend turns into the Pleasure Quest and suddenly she's off to europe to track down Molly, the one who got away. But while she's busy looking behind, Beau appears right in front of her. Can Noni complete her quest to find out what really makes her happy and move forward, or is she going to keep looking over her shoulder?

It's a Pleasure was a journey of self-discovery like no other - and it was so real at times I honestly thought Christian had been spying on me for a while. Noni Blake is a hot mess who doesn't know who or what she wants in life and has no idea how to find out. She explores life, her sexuality, her happiness and her heart until she can finally figure out exactly who she wants to be. 

After being in a nine-year relationship with Joan we watch as she tries to navigate falling in and out of love, and falling in and out of bed. This book was so steamy you might want to take a fan when you read it. There's lots of sex - awkward sex, bad sex, casual sex and mind-blowing sex. I loved the honest sex-positivity throughout this story and the perfect creation of a chaotic bisexual character without any of the stereotypes. 

And amongst all the fun and the heartbreak, comes the cringe-inducing moments that make you evaluate your own boyfriends and girlfriends of the past and realise they were definitely not worth looking back for.

The eclectic mix of beautiful humans she meets along the way all have their own amazing stories and I couldn't help but love every single on of them. 

Utterly absurd and wonderful, this was a pleasure to read.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to Claire Christian and Text Publishing for a Reviews Copy in return for an honest review.
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“This is a moment. A marker. A change. You can do whatever the fuck you want to, my darling. And for the first time in my whole life, that possibility doesn’t petrify me.”

WOW. I was very much unprepared for the journey this book took me on. And as it turned out, it was exactly the type of story I needed to read for where I’m at in life right now.

Noni Blake was an absolutely delightful main character. She’s 36 and fresh out of a near-decade long relationship, and feels she has lost all direction in life. She decides to take an impromptu trip to Europe, with the hopes to rekindle a relationship with one of her big “what if” exes. Fate takes ahold from there!

”We can always do, or be, something entirely different than what we thought we could. We are endless potential. Always.”

Noni was a hilarious narrator, and I enjoyed the many times her self-conscious thoughts contradicted the brave words she forced from her mouth. She may be down on her luck, but she’s smart, purposeful, and confident. And so utter relatable.

Watching her journey to reconnecting with herself was so joyous. We watched her relearn what things she loved, hated, or made her passionate. Noni lost something when her last relationship ended (or perhaps several years before that) and to get to watch her find that again— it was so special.

”As [they] spin me back out a second time, a voice very loudly, and very articulately, speaks inside of me with such distinct clarity that it kind of overwhelms me. This is the kind of voice that knows things. Things you don’t ignore.
This human. Pay attention to this human.”

Admittedly, I had no idea the direction this book was going in for a good half of the novel. Every time I fell a little bit in love with someone new Noni had met, something would happen that felt like I was taking an ice bath. I loved this feeling of being blindsided, because if felt so akin to reality. How things seem perfect until they suddenly weren’t. I ate this part up especially.

Noni and her partner gave me absolute butterflies. Their interactions felt so special, and I loved everything about the openness they had. While I felt their storyline became predictable at a certain point, this didn’t detract from my emotional investment in their happiness.

”I think aging is actually just about getting used to yourself, you know? Getting used to the way you are, the way you work, the way you process things, the weird things that make you unique. I think we spend so much time early on figuring that out. Or fighting against it.”

As someone who is terrified to grow older without having a purpose, without having passion, without having someone, this book was so special. Noni Blake is that blazing, bright star you can follow when you feel lost. Her journey is about pinpointing exactly what you fear most, and then walking in that direction to face it head-on. If she can do it, why can’t you?

Thank you to NetGalley with providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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“You can do whatever the fuck you want to do, my darling”

Wow. Noni Blake, it certainly was a pleasure. I didn’t think I would love this book as much as I did. 

Noni is a 36yr old teacher who’s long term relationship broke down two years ago and she’s been in a slump since. She finally gets back out there and sleeps with a woman who dies a few weeks later, which makes her question if she is living life how she really wants. 

When the realisation that she’s happy being unhappy hits her, she takes action. She takes a six month break from work, packs up her apartment, and flies to Europe for a “pleasure quest”. Her only goal is to do whatever (and whoever) she wants. 

This book took me completely by surprise. It made me question how I’m living and made me feel more seen than a book has in a long time. It was such a joy to read, and I’m so happy with how it turned out.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Oh wow. I didn't expect to love It's Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake this much! It will be on my March 2021 favourites list (and maybe even 2021 favourites!). 

If I am honest, I was expecting more like an early midlife crisis story. I had seen this book around Bookstagram and wanted to give it a try. I thought it is one of those easy reads, but it was so much more (WHICH I LOVED).

The main character Noni was such a wonderful, real and down to earth person. At the beginning of the book, she was having a tough time after a failed long-term relationship, IVF treatments and miscarriage (I think it should be mentioned as the topic can be a trigger for some readers). After a sad and very eye-opening moment in her life, she packs her bags and leaves for Europe for her pleasure quest. 

Without going too much into the story, let's just say that sometimes the best things in life are unexpected. That is why I think we should all try to be a bit like Noni. Well, at least what she became during her self-discovery trip. We should go after what we want (even it isn't always the easiest option).

I am super excited to read more books by Claire Christian in the future. You got yourself a new fan!
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✍️ One Sentence Synopsis: Pleasure is wearing bright lip color just because you want to.

💭 Overall Thoughts: I had no idea how much I would connect with this book and truly be taken through all the feels. Noni and I have very different struggles and hardships but the quest she goes on for self discovery and happiness— that has totally been me for the past year. I loved her for her raw vulnerability, for facing her fears head on with bravery, for throwing what other people think out the window, for putting herself first for a change, for doing things just because they make her happy. It’s what I needed, and a continued reminder of how I need to continue on. There is amazing chemistry here, in-depth character development, and excellent pacing. I will be recommending this one to many, many friends.

What I Liked:
👍 I loved the exploration of vulnerability and pushing oneself in that vulnerable zone toward what you want— but also in assessing whether it really is what you want.
👍 I loved Noni’s character and the journey of self exploration and self growth she goes on through the book.
👍  Beau is giving Braden Mack (my current top book boyfriend) a serious run for his money!
👍 LGBTQIA and body type diversity representation 

What I Didn’t Like:
👎 I felt personally attacked by the “Disney women” theory 🤣  (Even though I do agree that old school Disney needed more badass women and that Walt Disney himself had some extremely problematic tendencies)

💞 Read this if you liked: One to Watch, Honey Girl, the Brown Sisters

⚠️ Content Warnings: infant loss, grief, sudden death
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She's right, it really was a pleasure. 

There's something really, truly feminist about a story about a bisexual woman in her thirties who is kind of a mess. Noni is so deeply flawed and makes some truly bad decisions in this book, but her arc is so honest and real. She sleeps with the wrong people (on page), says the wrong things, and disappoints herself and the people around her as she fights like hell to become the person she wants to be. It is a whole story about Noni finding pleasure and learning that she deserves that pleasure and it was so empowering to read.

The writing is funny and precise and authentic, and every turn of the story feels so intentionally crafted. 

I'm not sure that I would strictly call this book a romance novel because it does have such a narrow, single perspective on Noni. However, it does have a deeply satisfying HEA both between Noni and Beau and in Noni's life as a whole. Everything isn't perfect, but she is in such a better place than she was at the beginning of the book. And she's going to be okay. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Text Publishing for the ARC.
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just finished the ebook of this one and i think it's highly highly overrated. the main character Noni Blake is going on a self discovery to Europe but turns out it was more about the number of people she's had sex with. like, she's having sex in almost every chapter. i felt completely put off by that. her meetings with strangers on her journey were so unbelievable and not at all realistic. this book does have a pretty cover and at times Noni was funny as hell but i felt like i've been reading some *thingy* diary lol. this was just too much
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Oh my god!! Can Noni Blake PLEASE not be a fictional character in a book and actually be my bestie?!? This book isn't just a book. Its a manifesto. Its a battle cry. We are women and we deserve to live lives we love. We deserve to feel sexy even if some of our bits jiggle and we deserve to love our jobs and our friends and find pleasure in the simple ordinary everyday. Written with experts characters and including sex scenes that are sometimes awkward but so spot on the reminded you of your own awkward moments, this book had me laughing and crying and nodding my head thinking back to something similar I've experienced through the years. 

Noni is a bisexual 36 year old woman who after a breakup and miscarriage spends six months on things that will bring her pleasure. She travels from Australia to England, Scotland, and Amsterdam. In her travels she meets amazing new friends and a sexy Viking. And she finds herself. Trust me you want to go on this journey and you want to meet Noni. And we all owe it to ourselves to go on a pleasure quest. Even if we can't go across the pond or take six months, we can at least start making decisions in our own lives that bring us more pleasure and more joy. 

Best book of the year so far. Would leave ten stars if I could but sadly only get five. 5 huge stars. 

Thank you to Claire Christian, Net Galley, and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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Chubby Aussie bi-con goes on a pleasure quest ~

Both the bi and fat rep was wonderful and felt true to life. I did sometimes find the amount of "your so sexy/such a babe" comments from a lot of the strangers a bit unbelievable... I don't know, I've never attracted the type of people who say that to strangers - beautiful/cute/adorable, yes...but the amount of new friends Noni meets (just her friends or sales people, not people she wants to have sex with) who just call her sexy out of the blue is strange to me.

However, I loved this! What you expect to be the third act conflict happens not even a third way in and I had no idea where it was going until we met another character! There were a few pacing issues, some out of character choices, and the different locations could have been leaned into a bit more - nowhere felt unique or its own place.  I love Noni and would read more about her life. I want to be pals with her. It's also nice to read about someone who isn't 16-25 who doesn't know what they want in life.
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This is such an enjoyable, uplifting and impactful book! 
This is a book everyone will enjoy! 
The writing is fabulous! And the characters are so relatable!
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This was a lovely, thought provoking, and somewhat unconventional romance novel. I was expecting something like Eat Pray Love, with lots of traveling, indulgent experiences, and solo reflections. Instead, pleasure seeking Noni stays in the UK for most of the book, and finds a few people she spends most of her time with. They were great people, just not the direction I expected the book to go, so it took me awhile to find my groove with the book.

I wasn’t fully invested until about 50%, as Noni’s ideas about things that bring her pleasure and mine are wildly different. I wasn’t living vicariously through her the way I hoped to, but I can see how this would be the perfect book for some people. I didn’t have any emotional investment in her early casual hookups because she didn’t either. Once she started leaning into the emotional bonds she was forming, I was all in. 

I do appreciate the idea of being really intentional about curating a list of things that bring you pleasure and being intentional about enjoying them, and believing that you deserve to enjoy them. Noni’s internal journey of learning to value herself, both inside and outside of her relationships with other characters resonated with me, and I’m sure would resonate with a lot of other folks too.

Thanks to Netgalley for this advance copy, all opinions are my own.
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Thank you for the opportunity.  Unfortunately, this was not the book for me.  While I think this book could really resonate for some people, I was left adrift and unconnected.  Again, I appreciate the opportunity.
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I read this book as an arc through Netgalley. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity. However, the thoughts that follow are my own.

Keywords: LGBT+, Bi-con, romcom, inspirational, body-positive

This book resonated with me in a way I wasn't expecting and was honestly unprepared for. Especially considering that I almost put it down and walked away early on. Within the first act, I really struggled with the titular character Noni Blake. This novel is frequently compared to "Bridget Jones' Diary," a book I've never been fond of personally, and Noni's early self-deprecating mindset and interpersonal awkwardness were really hammering home that Bridget Jones comparison. But before I scare you away with my early grumpiness about this book, let me tell you that "It's Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake" not only gets better but becomes the true pleasure that its name suggests. 

I gave "Noni Blake "four stars out of five because of that early frustration, but this book has become a recent favorite. If you're a character-driven reader, then this is going to be such a satisfying experience—Noni's journey from awkward to self-actualized is one of the most validating and empowering character arcs I've read in contemporary fiction. 

Stuck in an only vaguely-satisfying job as a high school counselor and still smarting from the end of a long-term relationship, Noni Blake starts to imagine "what if?" What if those people I had the opportunity for love (or at least a good time) hadn't passed me by? Feeling inspired, Noni tries to track down those folks on her f*ck-it list, including her ultimate missed opportunity in love, Molly, who runs a hostel in Europe. Nothing goes as planned in Noni's adventure, which ends up being set largely in the UK. Without dropping any spoilers, Noni discovers that love isn't in the place she expected but the real adventure is finding it in yourself first. Sounds cliche, I know, but this book made me laugh uncontrollably and sob into a pillow mere pages later. I promise the emotional depths are there.

For me, this was an emotional read that took me by surprise. It was sex-positive, body-positive, and dealt with anxiety and grief so beautifully that it was humbling. I also loved that Noni was in her mid-thirties and didn't have it all together; instead of that being the pivot point for depression or stasis (something I think mid-thirty-something female characters are too often subjected to in literary fiction) Noni changes everything and sends the message that you're life isn't over after a certain age. As someone who struggles with anxiety, depression, and a healthy self-image, Noni Blake was relatable but also so inspiring. 

There's so much I want to gush about in this book because there are some scenes that just hit home or had me in a swoon. I hesitate to say too much in case of spoilers, but I do want to emphasize the value of all of Noni's relationships in this book. Yes, there's a dynamite romance component with some deliciously steamy scenes scattered throughout. But I also valued all the types of love you get a peek into throughout the novel—found family, deep friendships, long-term marriages, and parent-child dynamics—all of it shows up in meaningful ways. There's just so much more to this book than I anticipated and it's meant more to me than I can say. Thank you, Claire Christian, for writing a book I didn't know I needed!
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I received a copy of this book to review from Netgalley. Thank you for the opportunity.
An interesting idea behind this story. The writing was good with some funny parts. The MC was quirky and no nonsense but seems full of contraindications which makes it difficult to follow the story. 
On the whole, an OK book.
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I had a hard time getting through this and I hate that I feel that way. I was so excited about this book but I found myself not liking the main character at all. I know it was part of the story that she didn’t know what she fully wanted and took the trip to Europe to find herself but I just felt as though she was all over the place. I’m glad everything came together at the end though! 2.5
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Sometimes a book goes a little too far in trying to show a character's low point. That was the case in It's Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake. It's really hard to read about a character choosing to sleep with a white supremacist on her way to self-discovery/self-love. 

Not for me.
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Rating: 1.5

I hated the main character. The writing style is extremely annoying and repetitive. Overall, this book just isn't for me.
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It wasn't for me. I didn't like it. I thought it was going to be a cute lgbt romance but i didn't like it.
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It’s Been A Pleasure, Noni Blake is the second novel by Australian novelist and playwright, Claire Christian. Eighteen months out of a nine-year relationship, Noni Blake is still, unintentionally, celibate, until a one-night-stand with the firefighter. The tragic event that follows is the impetus to stop “putting on twelve kilos, dyeing my hair too dark, spending way too much money on therapy” and start trying again. 

The result of a late-night drinking session with her best friend since third grade, Lindell and his partner, Graham, is the list of the Should-Have-Boned. Ever her sounding board for all things, Lindell supports and encourages her to take the big step: Europe, and the last name on that list, Molly. “Doing this may disrupt the very comfortable fabric of my life. And that’s petrifying, because I’m very comfortable here. I know how things work. How I work. I’m happy being relatively unhappy.”

When Molly becomes a major disappointment, Noni’s unfailing London friends step in to comfort and distract, and an Edinburgh retreat results in Noni’s Pleasure Quest. This includes quite a lot of sex, a trip to Amsterdam, a tattoo (and encountering a Viking-like tattoo artist, Beau). 

It’s likely that Noni, both in thought and action, will initially strike the reader as immature: thirty-six going on sixteen. She lacks self-esteem, has body image issues, fails to listen to the inner voice, and makes poor decisions, some of which she justifies with “Sometimes we need to experience things to know they’re what we don’t want.” She does, eventually, get it together (“I feel like an idiot for thinking diving into my past would change anything about the present”), even if she spends way too long in angsty self-analysis. 

There’s copious use of expletives which, while perhaps fitting for the characters and their cohort, may bother some readers, as may Noni’s rampant promiscuity and the explicit sexual descriptions. But Christian does have a way with words: “Like I’m a blob of paint and a brush has come in and swirled me in a perfect circle” and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.

Christian does give her characters some wise words and insightful comments: “I think aging is actually just about getting used to yourself, you know? Getting used to the way you are, the way you work, the way you process things, the weird things that make you unique. I think we spend so much time early on figuring that out. Or fighting against it.” While it won’t appeal to everyone, Claire Christian’s second novel is funny and ultimately feel-good.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Text Publishing.
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