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Slave to the rich and the rude, cosmetic surgery receptionist Serenity Holland longs for the day she's a high-flying tabloid reporter. When she meets Jeremy Ritchie -- the hang-dog man determined to be Britain's Most Eligible Bachelor by making himself over from head to toe and everything in between -- Serenity knows she's got a story no editor could resist. With London's biggest tabloid on board and her very own column tracking Jeremy's progress from dud to dude, Serenity is determined to be a success. But when Jeremy's surgery goes drastically wrong and she's ordered to cover all the car-crash goriness, Serenity must decide how far she really will go for her dream job.

352 pages, Paperback

First published November 5, 2011

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About the author

Talli Roland

18 books304 followers
Talli Roland writes fun, romantic fiction. Born and raised in Canada, Talli now lives in London, where she savours the great cultural life (coffee and wine).

Despite training as a journalist, Talli soon found she preferred making up her own stories--complete with happy endings. Talli's debut novel The Hating Game was short-listed for Best Romantic Read at the UK's Festival of Romance, while her second, Watching Willow Watts, was selected as an Amazon Customer Favourite. Her novels have also been chosen as top books of the year by industry review websites and have been bestsellers in Britain and the United States.

To learn more about Talli, go to www.talliroland.com or follow Talli on Twitter: @talliroland. Talli blogs at talliroland.blogspot.com.

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5 stars
288 (21%)
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437 (31%)
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175 (12%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 165 reviews
Profile Image for Joan.
2,193 reviews
November 25, 2014
But when Jeremy's surgery goes drastically wrong and she's ordered to cover all the car-crash goriness, Serenity must decide how far she really will go for her dream job.

Sorry. I was hoping for something 'fun' and light-hearted with a gentle undercurrent of maybe a slightly 'oops' result from cosmetic surgery. (maybe a wonky nose job that is easily remedied)

This story is unpleasant and actually rather distressing in a way. What happens to Jeremy (under surgery) is not something to write 'chick-lit' about, or to portray in anything less than a major, life-altering disaster. And to combine that with the inane, sycophantic and utterly self-centred stupidity of Serenity, makes for a rather 'grubby' story in which there is little or no consideration for other people.

Profile Image for Theresa Milstein.
Author 9 books59 followers
July 6, 2012
At first I didn't know if I would be able to relate to Serenity because of her ambition to become a tabloid reporter. But as she grew, she grew on me. By the midpoint, I couldn't put it down until I found out how it ended.

Serenity is from Maine and lives with her boss/boyfriend in London. He's a plastic surgeon and she's his receptionist. But she dreams of being a tabloid journalist. When an attractive guy comes in to get the works done, Serenity sees it as a perfect chance to pitch the story to a tabloid. She pretends to be a consultant to help the client through the makeover process. But the more time she spends with him, the more she likes him the way he is. And he's everything her plastic surgeon boyfriend isn't.

Serenity needs to decide where her loyalties lie. She's living a few different lives simultaneously and dangerously. I felt myself bracing for her to get caught in her many deceptions. When Serenity finally figures out her priorities, is it too late?
Profile Image for Amy Sperry.
58 reviews2 followers
June 18, 2012
For a romance novel there wasn't a lot of romance. The main character Serenity comes across as immature and has very little common sense. Her main goal in life is to write for a tabloid. She lands an online story about men getting plastic surgery by tricking a patient into thinking she is a relationship consultant. She lies to everyone to advance her career but when a surgery goes wrong and the patient ends up with brain damage she finds that she can't go on with the story. She then decides that she's in love with the patient and tries to find him when he goes into hiding after the botched surgery. I had a hard time trying to connect with her as she was mostly just a hot mess.
Profile Image for Nenette.
849 reviews50 followers
February 7, 2013
Though this is a very simple story of the genre that most intellectuals would roll their eyes on, I'd classify it as a good read because of the lessons it teaches and the good values it promotes. In a world full of pretense, living among people whose definition of happiness is banked on success, fame and fortune, it is refreshing to know that most people will not compromise their values no matter how tempting the promises of an offer that goes against them. At the end of the day, the matters of the heart do matter more.
Profile Image for Victoria.
430 reviews
May 7, 2015
Ok, so it's probably not quite 4* as it's formulaic and predictable but it's exactly what I needed to read at the moment and I quite loved it. It's your run of the mill chick lit with a new setting. It's not altogether 100% believable but reality is overrated. I like the main character, Serenity, but I love her best friend and the man she is trying to build. Looking forward to the next in the series.
Profile Image for Carina.
1,307 reviews1 follower
November 17, 2013
There seems to be a trend in ebooks at the moment to have a thoroughly un-likeable female lead. Now, in the majority of the books the lead manages to redeem herself somehow but this one... no.

Serenity, our female lead, is... just plain unlikeable. She isn't vapid or vain... she lacks a moral/ethical side for most of the book (though manages to develop one during the books crisis moment), but she doesn't have what you'd call a proper flaw.

Her leading man for the majority of the book is an utter moron, think of the sterotypical "in it for all you can make" plastic surgeon types and you have Peter. Our other male lead.... well I don't think I could ever like someone who saw plastic surgery as a way to fix themselves so it is hard to really say much about him apart from also being a moron.

The book wraps things up much too quickly - once Serenity manages to pull her head out of her arse she rushes to find Jeremy who also happens to be rushing to find her... why I have no idea. I cannot imagine a scenario where I would want to see, let alone date someone who uses me and manages (albeit accidentally) to humiliate me in front of thousands of people. But for some reason that is just the kind of thing Jeremy can overlook...

I guess when it comes down to it I just did not like the concept of this book, there are worse ways to kill a couple of hours, and there are worse books out there though.
Profile Image for Mandy Baggot.
Author 35 books618 followers
March 21, 2012
Just brilliant! Funny, romantic - more laugh out loud writing by Talli Roland - buy it!
Profile Image for Megan.
2,965 reviews37 followers
July 11, 2016
This was a great read.

I was screaming at her for all her mistakes. Cheering for her when she did all the right things. Ah this book had me giggling!
Profile Image for Tracey.
43 reviews4 followers
February 26, 2012

Slave to the rich and the rude, cosmetic surgery receptionist Serenity Holland longs for the day she's a high-flying tabloid reporter. When she meets Jeremy Ritchie -- the hang-dog man determined to be Britain's Most Eligible Bachelor by making himself over from head to toe and everything in between -- Serenity knows she's got a story no editor could resist.

With London's biggest tabloid on board and her very own column tracking Jeremy's progress from dud to dude, Serenity is determined to be a success. But when Jeremy's surgery goes drastically wrong and she's ordered to cover all the car-crash goriness, Serenity must decide how far she really will go for her dream job.


I knew from the first line of this book I would love it: If I see another set of boobs, I’m going to lose it. This was my first read for this author, and I can say for certain I’ll be searching out more of her books.

I ran through a whole gamut of emotions over Serenity while reading this book. First, I questioned her choice of continuing her one-sided relationship with Peter, her boss/boyfriend. He seemed to care more for his dysfunctional cat than he did Serenity. After a while, that kind of all give and no take would rub the luster off of even the most glamorous cosmetic surgeon. She seemed like a smarter girl than that.

I did enjoy the scenes in the clinic where Serenity dealt with the boredom of the Botox parade by subtly pushing the buttons of the quirky patients who were clinic regulars. Fabricating a dust bunny out of a cotton ball was genius!

Second, I wondered why anyone would aspire to be—of all things—a tabloid journalist, especially someone as small-town and wholesome as Serenity seemed to be. She just didn’t fit the profile of someone who could buy into the sensationalistic world of dishing made-up dirt to sell papers.

So, I guess I was really surprised—and more than a little pissed at her—when Serenity threw good sense to the wind to go undercover to report for a local tabloid, exploiting the clinic and one of its patients, Jeremy, in the process. Given the option to pursue her dream job, she became more cutthroat and conniving than I ever imagined she could be. Jeremy was such a nice guy, and she had no compunction about sacrificing his vulnerability to the tabloid gods, rationalizing her duplicity by simply changing his name for anonymity.

I wanted to reach into the pages and just throttle her…and hug Jeremy.

Serenity developed a friendship with Jeremy while doing research for her story, and I began to have hope she would snap out of her glamour coma and forget the reporter job. Alas, not. When Jeremy second guessed his decision to have cosmetic surgery, Serenity pushed him to go through with it for the sake of her story. Granted, her editor was pushing her as well, but Serenity sank to a new low in my book.

It wasn’t until Jeremy’s life was endangered that Serenity finally grew a conscience. Too little, too late, as far as I was concerned. Plagued by massive guilt over Jeremy’s post-op condition, Serenity finally…finally…realized the damage tabloid journalism could do and came to the conclusion maybe it wasn’t real reporting, after all.

After all her conniving and betrayal, if I were Jeremy I would have told Serenity to take a hike. Apparently that’s not the case, because the sequel, Creating a Couple, is scheduled for release in May. And I, for one, can’t wait to see if Serenity is able to redeem herself.
Profile Image for Shaz Goodwin.
796 reviews130 followers
January 4, 2012
We meet Serenity in Talli Roland’s Build a Man while she is behind the receptionist desk at Transforma Harley Street clinic. It’s very obvious to the reader how she feels about the clients and her over-riding ambition to make it big in the tabloid scene.

Boss and partner Peter is a man ruled by routine. Everything is meticulously correct and he is pedantic to the extreme. Initially, Serenity is drawn to him though because of this. We always partner with someone who we think has that vital ingredient lacking in ourselves J and this is the case for Serenity.

Things get more exciting for Serenity when Jeremy Ritchie walks into the clinic for his total makeover. Seeing her chance to promote something so unusual (a MALE having cosmetic surgery and not just one change but several planned) she jumps at the chance and with The Daily Planet on board, the website Beauty Bits is born.

During the undercover assignations, the intimacy between Serenity and Jeremy builds, after all, you have to get to know the person you are studying …

I wasn’t prepared for how drastically wrong the surgery goes for Jeremy. For me, this turned a light read into something much deeper – I couldn’t click the button fast enough on my Kindle at the end of each page. The tension builds all the time and when you think there’s going to be resolution … there isn’t.

Alongside the main plot is best friend Kirsty’s life and what is happening with her. I loved the way the roles in their friendship changed and we saw the vulnerable side of Kirsty and the support of Serenity.

The characters in Build A Man have depth and are therefore believable. We’ve all met people who have the characteristics of the male leads and also can identify with Serenity and Kirsty. The antagonism from intern Mia is also believable.

I think the way the author deals with the controversial topic of cosmetic surgery is very well crafted. The humour/derision and the way Serenity’s skill is ultimately used positively will satisfy the most anti views of readers.

Build A Man was a read that hooked me in and in all honesty, I’m looking forward to reading the sequel Construct a Couple. I can’t wait to see how Serenity’s relationship with her boyfriend works out and if the tension in Build A Man is anything to go by …
Profile Image for LindyLouMac.
849 reviews60 followers
May 30, 2012
This is Talli Roland's third novel and the third one that she has kindly sent me for review. I am always happy to oblige, I am probably somewhat older than her targeted market. If though you consider yourself young at heart, then like me you may well enjoy her writing. I find she writes well and that I enjoy her novels, despite the fact that I doubt I would ever have picked them up from choice in a bookshop. Sometimes it is good to step outside our comfort zone, you will see from my previous reviews of her earlier books, that I have come to rely on her novels to provide me with a laugh. My high ratings of her novels are worth it for this factor alone.

The Hating Game Watching Willow Watts

This time although I did find myself laughing, I felt guilty about it due to the issues involving cosmetic surgery that are so brilliantly covered in Build A Man. After all Botox is not really a laughing matter!

Serenity Holland aspiring journalist is working for her boyfriend until she finds her dream job. Unfortunately she hates her work as receptionist for Peter's cosmetic surgery practice, where she is mainly treated badly by his rich and vain clientèle. An opportunity comes up for her to use one of her boyfriend's more normal patients as the subject of an article that the tabloid press will be unable to resist. Her ploy works and she struggles with her conscience as she starts to secretly write about this bachelors desire for cosmetic surgery, believing it will change his life.
The reader will quickly realise that Serenity is in the wrong job and possibly has not made the right choice of relationship either, however it takes a disaster for her to make changes in her life.

A light and entertaining read with characters you will maybe empathise with or at the very least care about. If you care enough, there is more to come as the sequel Construct a Couple is due out very soon during June, which apparently starts with the future looking much brighter for Serenity Holland.

For more please visit
Profile Image for Nikki Bywater.
406 reviews13 followers
November 22, 2011
Serenity Holland is working at her boyfriend Peter’s cosmetic surgery clinic on reception. It is not a job she is enjoying doing, it was only supposed to be temporary. Serenity had moved from America to London with all the ambition and determination to become a successful journalist and to land a job working in the tabloid world as a reporter. But six months later after trying really hard sending out many resumes and article pitches she is still working at the clinic. She’s got a successful man who cares about her, a great new life in London. Now all she needs is the job of her dreams and everything will be perfect.

While she is working at the clinic she meets Jeremy Ritchie who after a bad experience with love he decides he wants to have cosmetic surgery to make him more attractive to women. Serenity thinks that this would make a really good pitch by writing about Jeremy and the way he his prepared to go to extreme ways to change is appearance to attract women. So she pitches the idea to ruthless editor Leza Larke of The Daily Planet Britain’s biggest tabloid. Leza likes her pitch and wants Serenity to write a column all about Jeremy following his progress for a new health and beauty website. Serenity decides not to tell Jeremy that she is writing about him and to do this undercover, so all real names are changed and she writes the column under another name. If the column gets a lot of hits and she can keep up the pace Leza tells Serenity that they will then consider her for junior position on the staff. Serenity could be on the way to landing her dream job at last.

However when there are complications when Jeremy has the surgery and it goes badly wrong Serenity must choose between following her heart or her dream job.

This is the third and brand new Chick lit novel by Talli Roland. I have read one of her other books Watching Willow Watts which was excellent and this book is just as good. It is a fabulous, fun romantic comedy that’s got really great characters, a great story line and Jaffa cakes!
Profile Image for Rea Cobb.
416 reviews650 followers
January 1, 2012
Well the whole question as to if I enjoyed the book or not I feel has already been answered in the timescale that I read the book. I would easily say that Build a Man is my favourite book by Talli Roland and I feel it is a mixture between the unique storyline ( well have you read a book based around plastic surgery and botox!) and a great mix of characters which makes this book a great read.

I found Serenity very likeable from the first chapter, as she came across as a very down to earth character. Jeremy was a lovely warm character who we feel a need to protect him because of his past and because of what Serenity is about to put this poor guy through. There was one character I could not stand from the first time I met him and that is Peter who is Serenity’s boyfriend and boss. I found myself gritting my teeth each time he was mentioned in the book.

I feel that Talli has made a great foundation book here, allowing us to get to know two great characters who I hope we will see continue through to her next book as we see the future of the two main characters progress.

There is such a fresh and exciting feel to this storyline because the plot is something new for the chick lit world, how on earth Talli Roland comes up with some of her plots I will never know although I would like to get inside this woman’s head as it seems a happy and humorous place to be!

I cannot wait to read the sequel to this book.
Profile Image for Sheli.
103 reviews76 followers
June 16, 2012
I downloaded this book some time ago after reading Miracle at the Museum of Broken Hearts. I finally got round to reading it this week and am very glad that I did!

Although I am a fan of certain types of chick lit, I don't like stories with no substance behind them. I was not disappointed by this book.

I was immediately drawn into the world of Serenity and she was an instantly likeable character. She is a young woman who has moved to London from Maine to make her dream of becoming a tabloid reporter come true. Instead she is living with her boring cosmetic surgeon boyfriend Peter, and working in his clinic as a receptionist. Serenity's big break comes, but she risks her job, friendship and relationship trying to do what she believed she had always wanted.

All of the characters in this book were very believeable and I couldn't wait to read more about what Serenity was going to do next and how new friendships would develop. There was a twist that I really didn't expect that meant I couldn't put my kindle down until I had found out what had happened, and I particularly appreciated Serenity's visit to Wales near the end of the book, to one of my favourite places.

I would recommend this fun and well written read, and am looking forward to reading more of Talli's books and more about Serenity's adventures.
Profile Image for Faithann.
246 reviews21 followers
June 8, 2012
Serenity moves to London, England after her dream job...writing for a British tabloid. In the meantime, she gets a job as a receptionist at a cosmetic clinic, where she ends up dating her boss. When Jeremy walks in and explains that he would like to be completely made over, she thinks her prayers have been answered. Imediately pitching the story of a man who wants to go under the cosmetic knife, she is offered a temporary, undercover postion at Londons biggest tabloid. If she can handle this asignment, she will get the job she has been dreaming of. However, when there are complications during Jeremy's first operation, Serenity life is turned upside down. What if everything she ever wanted, isn't what she wanted it to be?

I had a hard time getting into this book in the begining, almost to the point of not finishing the book. However, I did find myself having a hard time putting it down once I got just past the half way point. I am interested in reading the sequel "Constuct a Couple", but only if I can get my hands on a free copy from Amazon, or the library.
Profile Image for CuteBadger.
763 reviews14 followers
July 19, 2015
I got this as a freebie for my Kindle over two years ago but hadn't got round to reading it. A long session at the hairdresser last weekend meant that I made a start on it. Now that I've finished it I can't say I was overwhelmed with what seemed to be pretty standard chick lit fare. The fact that the heroine's one ambition in life is to be a tabloid journalist meant that I didn't warm to her and I'm really not interested in plastic surgery and the parade of grotesques that are described as coming through the clinic where she works in an endless train.

I didn't really like many of the other characters which meant reading the book felt like spending time with people you don't like but are too polite to leave. I felt that the dramatic change of tone around two-thirds of the way through was just too much of a contrast to what had come before, and the ending didn't ring true to me either.

So all in all, a reasonable time-waster but not memorable and not very true-to-life (in my opinion).
Profile Image for Emma.
58 reviews
July 19, 2012
So this was free on my kindle and I thought the blurb sounded interesting. It's about a cosmetic surgery receptionist who wants to be a tabloid reporter and sets out to write a story about a man who comes into the surgery to make himself into the man he thinks he should be. I foolishly thought we might get some thought-provoking discussions of cosmetic surgery. I should have remembered that this is chick lit of the most obvious kind. Unfortunately this is a format with which I now have little patience. Good to read by the pool on holiday perhaps but if you're looking for something that goes a bit deeper not worth the effort.
Profile Image for A.B..
Author 26 books33 followers
November 23, 2014
DNF - The writing is lovely, the opening is kind of genius.... but as soon as Jeremy say he's kind of a private person and Serenity decides to pursue her story behind his back anyway, I couldn't root for them as a couple anymore. At that point, she deserves the douchey doctor and he deserves someone who's willing to actually hear what he says. I can't get into a romance unless I actually want the two people to be together and in this case, I didn't.

So, if you have no problem with that, you'll probably love this.
Profile Image for Joanna Gawn.
Author 7 books36 followers
March 3, 2012
An enjoyable read, with some genuine laugh-out-loud moments (cotton-wool dust bunnies and chipmunks come to mind!)

Serenity's numerous poor decisions had me groaning with frustration; thank heavens she has a friend like Kirsty! And thank heavens for moms with 'hippie' wisdom, and signs from the universe!

I've just read the whole book within 2 days, so you can tell it's a page-turner...there was no way I could go to bed without knowing whether Serenity falls on her feet.

Profile Image for Amy.
136 reviews
June 11, 2012
I absolutely loved this book! My favorite one by Talli Roland so far! I liked how the main character is from the US, as opposed to England...this might be a reason why I feel I related to her more. But don't get me wrong, the book still has that London feel to it. If you are looking for a great chicklit, page turner and fast read then look no further and read Build A Man!
Profile Image for Karen.
Author 7 books121 followers
November 13, 2011
A fun read about an American girl new to London finding her career, her man, and herself. I especially enjoyed the London setting and experiencing the city through Serenity's eyes. And the theme of unnecessary cosmetic surgery and the Botox rage intrigued me. I kept visualizing the story as a movie while I read. It would make a good one!
Profile Image for Chandra.
159 reviews2 followers
June 29, 2012
Cute...easy read...some of the lingo is from across the pond since it is set in London...but I liked it. Score...there is another book...happy reading!! :)
Profile Image for Michelle.
280 reviews
June 5, 2017
Better than what I expected

Didn't expect much of this book when I picked it up, but ended up pleasantly surprised. Ended up really enjoying Serenity Holland and her escapades of a tabloid writer, along with rooting for the happy ending!! Enjoyed
Profile Image for Leah.
1,583 reviews293 followers
November 22, 2011
Talli Roland has rather rapidly made a name for herself in the Chick Lit world with not one, not two, but three novels released in 2011. I absolutely adored her debut novel The Hating Game, but I admit to being disappointed with her second novel Watching Willow Watts. However, with the promise of her third novel being more like The Hating Game than Watching Willow Watts, I nearly died of excitement when my review e-copy came into my inbox because I expect a lot from Talli. She’s an author I enjoy reading, but she’s also a person I like from what I know of her – she’s always so kind, her blog is a brilliant place to visit, and as such, I was really looking forward to Build A Man and it did not disappoint.

I can always tell how I’m going to feel about a book when I’m relatively early into the novel. If I’m not feeling a novel after the beginning (first 10% / 50 pages) then I’m not going to be able to claw it back and as such novels become tortorous for me. However, I knew pretty much from the first % that Build A Man was a novel I was going to love. It grabbed me and it didn’t let me go as Serenity Holland does her best to become something more than a boring old receptionist, as she tries to get her foot in the door of becoming a tabloid journalist. I liked the moral dilemma as Serenity uses her receptionist position at a cosmetic clinic to get her way into journalism, as she goes “undercover” as a client named Jeremy decides he wants his entire body cosmetically altered. I liked the way Serenity didn’t just use Jeremy though, I liked how they became friendlier with each other, as well.

Build A Man is somewhat different to Talli’s first two novels, not only has Talli changed from third-person narrative to first-person narrative, but the book just seems to flow. I’m not saying her first two novels didn’t flow; they did, but with Build A Man, I just flew through the novel, without paying attention to how much was left or how it was going to go, I just wanted to get to the end. Despite the questionable nature of what Serenity does, I actually loved her. I mean, wow, she was just such a ball of fun. So enthusiastic about things, so seemingly happy and cheery. But it was Jeremy who really blew me away. I wasn’t sure what to expect from him – after all, only someone with so little confidence would want to have total cosmetic surgery, right? But, no. That wasn’t true at all. Jeremy was just amazing. I loved him. It’s like despite what he wanted to do to himself, it wasn’t necessarily because there was anything massively wrong with him, just that he wanted to become something more than himself after being hurt previously. I just wanted to cuddle him and drown in his beautiful green eyes. I didn’t give much truck to Serenity’s boyfriend, Peter, he never really inspired anything in me, if I’m honest.

There was nothing I didn’t like about Build A Man. It had characters I really, really cared for, it had an inspired plot (Talli is a plot genius!), it had warmth and humour and it wasn’t all sweetness and light, either. I loved the book so much that I stayed up until 12.45am finishing it. I never stay up past midnight, but I just couldn’t put it down, I just couldn’t let go without knowing how it all ended and oh God, was it worth it. Was it ever worth it. The ending made me ridiculously happy, and I was flipping the next page button on my Kindle like a demon just to get there quicker as it all came to its conclusion. I can’t wait for the sequel to Build A Man, Construct A Couple, comes out. It has the characters that just DEMAND a sequel. I want to read it now, actually. (Do you hear that, Talli? I WANT TO READ IT NOW!!!). I can’t recommend it enough, it was just awesome and I was sad to finish it, because I’d gotten so into Serenity’s life, so into Jeremy’s story, that I just didn’t want it to end and for me there’s nothing better than a book you don’t want to end.
Profile Image for Anna Marie.
1,064 reviews2 followers
March 14, 2013
I was going to give this one star and rip it to shreds. Have you ever seen that movie, "Leap Year", with Amy Adams? The one where she's a complete moron, trips and buffoons her self-centered way thru a painful movie, and still lands the guy at the end? That's what this book is. It's painful. The heroine flat-lined mentally at birth, and never recovered. The story is as superficial and awful as the girl is. It's painful to read. But then... something happens.

Serenity wants to be a tabloid writer, and thinks she can do it without lying, which is ridiculous considering this is a girl with no integrity, no sense of self or maturity, to begin with. She's a slob, can't even remember to pick up the dry cleaning, and is snotty to everyone around her. She's shacked up with a control freak plastic surgeon with no conscience who treats her like a puppy... which, he's got a point - that's about her intellectual equivalent. She works as his receptionist, dealing with 'botox bitches' until she can get her big break - which turns out to be a tabloid story about one of the patients at her boyfriend's clinic.

A man named Jeremy is rich, kind, talented, heartbroken, and feels like he needs cosmetic surgery to be a more attractive person. And our hideous heroine not only pushes him towards it, she poses as his 'consultant' in order to get closer and do an expose on him and his procedure, and puts it on the biggest tabloid in England. She uses his kindness and gentleness as a vehicle to elevate herself. She compromises her boyfriend, her job, her customer's privacy... she's a total slime, more concerned about her wardrobe and fame than with anything that really matters. And of course the tabloid isn't paying her, just using her for the idea, and then takes over, going public with his real identity, screwing Serenity just as she deserves.

Unfortunately for Jeremy, he has a severe reaction to the meds and dies on the table long enough to sustain brain damage. He's a national phenomenon, and doesn't even know it, as he's in a coma. You want to HIT someone, by the time this happens. Namely, Serenity.

Then we come to Chapter 22, where Serenity suddenly does this amazing about-face and realizes she's a moron. Or is it that she loses her job, her boyfriend, her residence, her livelihood and has no choice but to change directions? Her life is horrible and SHE is horrible... and then suddenly she turns herself around. I would recommend reading Chapter 22 to the end, because from this point on, the book is worth reading. I really enjoyed the last 60% of the novel, which is why it has two extra stars. But I wouldn't recommend the first twenty-one chapters.

I also have to add that this book is about an American living in England. There's a mix of American and Brit phrasing that makes it hard to differentiate the accents/backgrounds the author wishes to convey. Her writing indicates that she's about as intellectual as her heroine, though, so I'm not thinking this is something she can improve. The tone is shallow and immature, as most freebies on Amazon are. Not much detail about the setting are given, not much beauty is to be found in the novel. It's like french fries next to the richer cuisine of other books. Or maybe brussel sprouts, considering the behavior of the main character.

Still... I have to admit that I liked the story from chapter 22 to the end. And I'm keeping it, with the note to myself to SKIP everything before that. But then, I'm kind of a sap when it comes to my subject matter.
Profile Image for J.C. Martin.
Author 3 books114 followers
December 4, 2011
First off, quick disclaimer: I do not normally read chick lit, and rarely ever read romance, so I may not know what I’m talking about. Don’t judge me: I have some preconceived notions about chick lit (girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy back… All finished off with a saccharine sweet sprinkling of happily ever after.) All well and good for some, but not my idea of an entertaining, gripping read.

Then again, a good story is a good story, and it is the potential of a good read that led me to purchase a copy of Build a Man. The idea of a tale about the perils of cosmetic surgery, and the ugly side of tabloid reporting — both highly current topics, piqued my interest. Plus, Talli Roland is a formidable name in e-book circles, with great reviews for her previous books, The Hating Game and Watching Willow Watts. Also, Talli herself is a lovely person and a prominent blogger, so I figured: if I enjoy her blog, surely I’ll enjoy her book?

And you know what? I am so glad I cast aside my prejudices! Build a Man surpassed all my expectations and then some! Serenity Holland is a very relate-able heroine. Like all of us, she has dreams and aspirations, and like many of us, she gets lost along the way, becoming blind to what is truly important. Serenity is a girl-next-door who aspires to be something more, and I loved her self-deprecating and snarky voice. Her attraction to Jeremy was clear from the get-go, and at many times through the book, I’d felt like reaching into the pages and smacking her over the head for still not realising that Jeremy was something more than her ticket to tabloid success. But this frustration is a good thing; when Serenity finally comes round, it made reading it all the more satisfying, in an I-told-you-so way!

I loved how Talli infused the story with so much of her personality: from being a non-native Brit to the familiar sights and sounds of London, including the ever-popular shopping scene, it made the story that much more plausible. Her accurate (and sometimes scary) portrayal of the cosmetic surgery industry, the cattiness and backstabbing in the tabloids business, and the otherworldly realm of the insanely rich (Gucci hospital robes? Really?) made for plenty of compulsive reading. As Serenity’s worlds collided, I felt drawn into the story in a kinda morbid way, as someone would be drawn to a car crash, but through it all I was rooting for her and Jeremy.

And it wasn’t just Serenity: Build a Man’s cast of supporting characters are rich and likeable in their own quirky way: the cuddly Jeremy; the stick-in-the-mud Peter; Kirsty, Serenity’s driven and successful yet sometimes vulnerable BFF; Leza, her evil editor; manipulative Mia, who I wanted to inject full of something other than Botox…

OK, maybe not all the characters were likeable, but they certainly served their purposes!

I’ll avoid any spoilers, but I have to say, I was appalled by the way Talli treated her characters! Poor, poor Jeremy! How could she do that to him!? But what an amazing turn of events, one that made the ending all the more sweeter! Yes, I used the word ‘sweet.’ So what? Nothing wrong in a happy ending, especially if it was crafted as well as this one!

Oh, and Talli is planning a sequel to Serenity and Jeremy’s story in Construct a Couple! I can’t wait!
Profile Image for Vicky.
125 reviews193 followers
May 21, 2012
Original review: http://www.booksbiscuitsandtea.co.uk/...

When I won a copy of Talli Roland’s book a while ago, I just couldn’t hide my excitement. After reading her Christmas novella Miracle at the Museum of Broken Hearts , she soon became one of my soon-to-be favourites. I had really high expectations about this book and I have to say, Build a Man didn’t disappoint.

What I love about Talli’s stories -in this book in particular – is that they are incredibly optimistic. Not in a “let’s all be happy” and everything is pink and wonderful way because they are also quite emotional and touching but in terms of the ending and moving on. You just don’t feel bad when the story ends – you feel reassured that life goes on and everything will be all right.

The characterisation was great! Serenity is definitely someone who you just can’t associate yourself or sympathise with. She’s working as a receptionist at her boyfriend’s clinic but it’s obvious that she’s a, she’s over-skilled for this job and b, she’s bored out of her skull all day long. On top of that we have Peter, her boyfriend AND her boss (which always a bad combination, mind you), who’s a workaholic and cares more about his cat Smitty than his own girlfriend. And he couldn’t be any more different from Serenity’s laid-back personality. I wouldn’t like to give too much away but I can tell you, it’s going to cause a few problems.

The story itself is really fast paced which is great – believe me, there’s never a dull moment. The only thing I didn’t enjoy that much -and in fact the reason why I’m “only” giving this book 4 stars- was repetition. You see, both Serenity and Peter work at this clinic – they work together, and they live together. So there came a time in the book where all I remembered reading was “we went to the clinic…we closed up and went home.” And the same thing happens every day. They get up, they go to the clinic, they close up, go home. I know Serenity’s life was dull and due to the fact that Peter was a workaholic, they didn’t even see each other during working hours and when they got home, he was too tired to do anything but watch telly and sleep. The going to-and-fro work bit was just a bit repetitive for me, that’s all. The good news is, even if you find this work routine a bit monotonous, you’ll completely forget about it by the time you reach the second half of the novel and you get utterly absorbed in what’s going on and what’s going to happen.

All in all, I really enjoyed Build a Man – it has the right combination of humour, emotion and optimism – it will make you laugh, make you emotional and most importantly, fill you with hope. Serenity’s character really grew on me throughout the story and I’m very curious to see where her life is heading so I will definitely be adding book #2 (Construct a Couple) to my wishlist! If you like chick lit or contemporary romance, do pick it up – it’s worth it!! :)
Profile Image for Katie(babs).
1,803 reviews541 followers
April 5, 2013
Build a Man (Serenity Holland #1) by Talli Roland was released from Notting Hill Press in 2011 was recently free on Kindle when I decided to download it. It’s a pretty wacky and daft story that has a chick-lit tone to it. The heroine Serenity has moved to London, England from American to live her dream as a tabloid reporter. Why she couldn’t do that in the states is a mystery, but it’s a quirky premise that kept me reading. Poor Serenity doesn’t really have a plan in trying to get a job with a tabloid and was going to crash with her good friend Kristy and her boyfriend Tom, but she ends up meeting Peter, a plastic surgeon. Within weeks of her arrival, she’s living with Peter as his girlfriend and working a as his receptionist at his plastic surgery clinic, putting up with snooty, rich women addicted to Botox and whatever other plastic surgeries to make them more beautiful. Serenity hates her job, but it gives her time to find a “real” job as a tabloid reporter.

One day Jeremy walks in and makes an appointment. Jeremy is a pretty average looking guy but wants to be fixed up because he feels he’s unattractive, even though he’s worth millions. His ex-girl friend cheated on him with his former handsome partner. Serenity gets an idea to report on Jeremy’s plastic surgery process. She sends her idea to a few tabloids and one gets in contact wanting all the dirt. Serenity is now living a lie. She’s lying to Peter who thinks she’s only good as his receptionist and a bed companion and she’s lying to Jeremy for the sake of her weekly articles that have become a big hit online. As Serenity gets to know Jeremy better, she feels he doesn’t need any work, but if she tells him not to, her career as a tabloid reporter will be over before it begins. And then Jeremy goes under the knife and not only is his health now in danger, but Serenity’s entire life is unraveling before her very eyes and she’s drowning from the deceit and the guilt for forcing Jeremy to do something that almost kills him.

Build a Man has some funny moments and eye rolling scenes, mainly because of Serenity who at times comes across as a ditz. She’s a loveable ditz, but one who doesn’t think before she speaks or takes a moment to reflect on her actions that could cause a great deal of problems. You have to feel sorry for Serenity because it’s obvious Peter is using her, and at times Serenity is vocally abused not only by him, but his patients and the editor and her intern of the tabloid, the Daily Planet who disrespects Serenity (and continues to do so throughout the story) the moment they meet. The only ones who seem real and authentic are Jeremy and Kristy. Also Serenity tended to get on my nerves because she’s doesn’t seem “all there” in the head. Also she comes across as very British, although she’s American. Her dialect and speech is off as an American and I found this annoying and not true to life.

Build a Man may not be true to life at all and you really have to suspend your disbelief. But overall it’s a very sweet story that gave me a few hours of enjoyment.
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