Lettie Howells has hit a new low. This is the last, the very last, time, Alan – her soon to be ex – is going to leave her counting the bruises. Her two housemates and super-sorted sister persuade her that she's not going to find the man of her dreams among the ageing tourist traffic in Lyme Regis and she duly sends off her contribution to the Lonely Hearts columns. From a motley crew of respondents she selects Doug Evans – a jolly but 'once-bitten' hunk of a Welsh forester.
But the path of true love does not run smooth: there's two whole communities of friends and relations to muddy things up – from Lettie's dominant mother Grace (who takes up with one of Lettie's cast offs from the ad), to her ditzy lodger Lisa (who takes up with Lettie's boss).
Though her day job sees her serving tea and cake in a seafront café, Lettie yearns to make more of her painting. Then a trip to Doug's home town provides new canvases and an unlooked for brush with fame, and maybe even fortune, thanks to 'reality tv'…
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