I received a copy from Netgalley.
I must be a black sheep on this one. Most of the reviews I browsed through were fairly positive, there was a handful of one stars but no actual reviews. It caught my eye whilst browsing Netgalley because I like revenge themed books featuring famous people with glitz glamour and potential murder. When I looked it up on Goodreads and saw that the author was compared to the British equivalent of Jackie Collins that pretty much sealed the deal for me.
I thought it was one of the stupidest, most annoying books I have ever read.
I didn't find it glamorous or captivating or anything. The characters were unremarkable and annoying with maybe one exception and it was nearly 70% into the book before the reason all these people were brought together was finally explained. It started out okay, the frost problem I had with the book was that the review copy I was reading on my iPad kindle app had an appealing font which wouldn't go out of bold which annoyed the hell out of me. I ended up buying a finished copy with a sensible font I could read properly. At this point the book still had my attention to want to know the what was going on.
The premise was interesting enough, a bunch of people have been invited to the opening debut of a new snazzy restaurant by popular celebrity chef Dexter Franklin in St Tropez. It's all expenses paid as well. It becomes obvious immediately that bringing this particular group together is a disaster waiting to happen. It's also made clear right away that each person invited to the opening have history with Dexter and pretty bad history at that. The tag line hinted at murder so the interest for me was who do these annoying people is going to get bumped off first?
Two members of a former squeaky clean girl group Crazy Sour, who had a massive career as pop idols for teen girls until one of them, Holly, fell into drugs and drink and ruined the band and destroyed everyone's careers. Holly wound up becoming a high class prostitute and raked the cash in until she got caught up in a scandal with a politician and the whole thing came crashing down around her, again. She’s an utter bitch, out for number one and doesn't seem to give a fuck about anyone else other than herself. Of course, she's got a few secrets of her own which sort of explain her deplorable personality and the defensive attitude she displays. She had a hot fling with Dexter at some point and it didn't end well.
The other girl band member Mew, I got the impression was supposed to be the sensible smart one of the group. She and Holly rubbed each other the wrong way. There wasn't much mentioned about the third member of the band or there than she wasn't all there. I think the only reason she wasn't brought in on this little trip was she didn't have anything going on with Dexter. When Crazy Sour failed Mew made her fame and fortune by winning a celebrity cooking show hosted by Dexter. There was a big scandal when it was discovered that Mew was screwing Dexter behind the scenes. Mew went on to have her own cooking career and wrote best selling cookbooks. Mew brings her assistant/agent Olivia along on the trip complexly oblivious to the fact that Olivia is head over heels in love with her. Of course, neither Holly nor Mew know the other has been invited.
Leland Franklin, Dexter’s older brother. The two brothers never got along. Leland is actor who made his name as a hunky TV action adventurer star who thinks he’s the best thing since sliced bread and God’s gift to women. A better than thou jerk who thinks the sun rises and sets on him, and completely unfaith to his supposed long term girlfriend. To the point where he brings some fame hungry American girl he picked up and has been screwing on the side, the girl who was notorious for having once been a hooker on the trip. Leland’s supposed actual girlfriend is a Brazilian actress Rosita Velazquez. She's a huge star in her own country and wants to break into other markets and she's convinced that dating Leland will raise her profile. She's outlandish and takes over the top to a whole new dimension. Neither knows that the other has been invited to Dexter’s restaurant opening. Rosita has her own complex history with Dexter.
Finally DC Riding, a restaurant critic. Openly gay and friendly DC is probably is the only likeable character amongst this lot. He had a failed try at producing a big broadway production. He's had some not so pleasant things to say about Dexter’s restaurants before. He’s into really kinky sex stuff as well and doesn't seem to care where it comes from and is quite happy to pay for it.
A few other minor characters are introduced who wind up having fairly decent rolls as the plot goes on.
The bulk of the novel is all these characters arriving in St Tropez and their reactions to each other. Which in the most case are not happy reunions. It's drama drama drama. They've all worked out there must be something going on. Dexter hasn’t made an appearance yet. Most of his chapters up to this point are reflections on his relations with the other characters and hints of something big that's going to happen. By this point I am bored to tears with the book. I lost interest in the drama between the characters, the bitch fest between Holly and Mew, Olivia pining over Mew, Rosita and her ridiculous attempts at making a name for herself, Leland who I despised right from the start and remember very little about. The only fun chapters were the ones from DC Riding.
Opening night approaches and the reasons for bringing these particular people together were finally revealed. Over 70% in and no ones been killed. What happened to the murder hinted at in the tag line and why is these thing called Revenge?
It turns out it's all involving a show girl Cher Le Visage. Dexter was madly in love with Cher, now Cher is dead and every person he has invited to the opening has a reason to want to kill Cher.
So…who did it? More secrets are revealed and more past information comes to light.
One thing I did actually like at the end was how the women came together to defend each other when found in a dicey situation with the killer.
Mew and Holly really came together and wound up with a new understanding and a budding friendship that allowed them to reconnect and come together in a way they hadn't before
Not enough to salvage the book for me, but something about it I actually liked.
There was a brief what happened afterwards conclusion detailing where each of the main characters when after the eventful opening night of Dexter's restaurant. Most of them had shown some sort of growth over the novel and some found new relationships, new friendships and new directions in life.
This wasn't a page turner for me, nor was it a gripping thriller at all. I found myself skimming a large portion of the middle. It had its moments but in the end just not for me. I’m not really interested at all in trying anything else by this particular author. Every now and then I try something different from my usual type of book but unfortunately this one wasn’t for me at all.
Thank you to Netgalley and Bookoture for approving my request to view the title.
I received a copy from Netgalley.
I came across this book whilst browsing Netgalley looking for something different to read. The synopsis caught my attention, and if I was flipping through channels and this was a movie I would have watched it.
I can’t say I found it particularly gripping or emotional. By half way through I was bored with the plot. I’m usually wary of books that claim things like “the most emotional gripping thing you will ever read!” (or along those lines) in a title headline. It’s always seemed unnecessary to me. Let the novel stand on its own and let the readers judge. Don’t bombard the title lines with crap like that. It’s annoying! (Certainly is to me, anyway). I don’t remember seeing that bit when I initially requested the title).
The story focuses on a then and now method of telling. There were initially three sisters, Hope, Charity and Faith who lived in a small English village by the sea, where they hung out with their mate Niall. In their late teens Faith is tragically killed in an accident, Niall the guilty driver. In 2016 Charity’s daughter Willow has returned to the cottage where Charity lived with Hope looking for some answers about her mother’s past. Charity had an interest in diving looking for underwater forests. So does her daughter. Aunt Hope is stingy with information and comes off as quite cold. Charity is deceased as well now and Willow has mostly been raised by Aunt Hope. Clearing out the cottage Willow finds some things about Niall and Charity and sets off to find out more, especially since Niall is now a big name in underwater forest diving and photography.
The then chapters tell the story taking place in the late 1980s of when Charity and Hope are living together running a little café in the same town they’ve always lived in. Charity still wants to do her diving, but it’s more a hobby these days, she’s a social worker whilst Hope is a budding poet/writer. The town is captivated by dazzling rich new comers David and Lana when Charity inadvertently winds up rescuing Lana from a car accident. Getting to know the couple, Niall winds up coming back into the picture and before long sparks are flying.
The novel flips between the stories of Charity and Niall, David, Lana and Hope in the past, whilst in the presence Willow is following in Charity’s footsteps going along what appears to be the same route Charity took in her youth. There seemed to be a lot more going on in Charity’s storyline. She’s developing strong feelings for Niall which brings up a mess of emotion due to Faith’s tragic accident, which is Hope is furious about. Then there’s David, there’s intense chemistry between them, not helped by ditzy Lana who’s a total lush by this point with her own problems.
I did find the plot got a little repetitive. It’s the same troubling feelings for Charity over and over. I can understand where she’s coming from. Some of the little twists in Willow’s chapters are trying to be deep and emotional, and again I can understand why but there was just something missing for me. To be fair the twist at the end revolving around some secrets before and after Faith died were quite a surprise I didn’t see coming. One character was considerably more twisted than they appeared.
There was an awful lot of it about underwater forests and diving which kind of made my eyes gloss over a bit. Though there was some interesting info in the author’s note for those interested in looking into more about the subject. I did like the sense of family and togetherness between Charity and her sister Hope, and later on echoed in the relationship between Willow and Hope. Though there was just something kind of “meh” about the whole thing for me.
It wasn’t really a bad book, just not my taste in the end, I guess.
Thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for granting my wish to view the title.
This shot off and just never slowed down. Look, I didn't put it down until I finished. Great characters and great storyline. Read it, absorb it and enjoy it.