11 August 2010

Book Review: Forbidden Pleasures by Jo Rees

Savannah, a British IT girl whose Daddy runs a rather successful casino in Las Vegas, is somewhat sick of being a boring socialite. She wants more, but she doesn't want to be a good girl to get there. A horrible accident at home means Savannah is forced to take stock of her life, and re-evaluate a few things too. She's sent to a remote island for rehab which her family hopes will bring Savannah back onto the straight and narrow. On the other side of the world, Lois, an ex FBI cop, is finding her feet working for some more casino bosses, and working out what exactly they want from her, and what she wants from her own life too. Just how are the paths of these women going to cross, and with what consequences?

This is the second novel from author Jo Rees, who first burst onto the chick lit market last summer with her fantastic summer blockbuster Platinum. I really loved that read, and consequently I've been very excited about being able to read this one too. I must admit that when I saw the original cover, I wasn't too impressed as it seemed a bit garish and brash for my liking, but luckily the publishers have had a rethink and they've come up with the much nicer design pictured on the left! Anyway, you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover are you?! Either way, I eagerly started to read Forbidden Pleasures, and luckily it wasn't a let down!

The book mainly tells the story of Savannah, a rich, spoilt IT girl who seems to think the world owes her a favour. Savannah doesn't expect to work for her money, just that Daddy should supply it and consequently she's not a very nice person. However, she gets a bit of a shock when she is party to an horrific accident that leaves her a changed person, and for the better it would seem. Even though Savannah wasn't a very nice person at first, I still felt sorry for her as she seemed trapped in her life, and I enjoyed seeing the change in her as the book progressed.

The other main character in the book is Lois, a former cop turned security guard for one of the big casinos. For some reason, I really disliked Lois from the off, she just seemed to rub me up the wrong way and I just didn't warm to her at all. As things move on in the story, I think I was supposed to feel sympathy for her but I just couldn't bring myself to, I didn't warm to her in the way I did to Savannah initially. Lois seems to work well in a man's world, and while there is nothing wrong with that, I just found her to really cold and unlikeable. Her relationship with her estranged daughter is also quite odd, very different to the usual mother/daughter relationships you read in most books, but it made it slightly more interesting.

I really enjoyed the twists and turns of the story, and the different developments as it went on as well. I wondered when I began reading exactly where the book was going because it started with a rich girl doing what she liked, but the incident that happens turns the whole book on its head and sent it careering in a totally different direction which I loved. Savannah becomes a much nicer person, and I love how she starts to see how badly she behaved before and develops a conscience. It was great to read a character making a change like that and using it to her advantage.

The book picks up its edge again around 2/3 of the way in when the rivalry between Savannah and Lois hots up once more. The book takes another turn which again I thought was really good, as it kept my attention and keeps the story fresh and exciting. I was actually unsure how it was all going to end up because just as I thought I had guessed how things were panning out, something else happened which sent the story in another direction, and it was great how Rees kept my guessing the whole way through. The dramatic ending was a great finale for the book, and tied up all the loose ends of the book really well. Savannah was definitely the heroin of the book for me, conquering her past as she did and by the end, I had even warmed to Lois which was good too!

The book is a great blockbuster type read, so if you are a fan of the Bagshawe sisters, Sasha Wagstaff and Olivia Darling, I think you will love Jo Rees' books. We were able to send out copies of this book to our competition winners for our first birthday a few months ago, and the response to it was extremely positive, so it looks like this is going to be a popular summer read. I would definitely recommend it to be one that you stick in your suitcase if you are off on your summer hols, and if not it's the perfect escapist fiction for a late night read too! Set in the world of casino's, it's really glamorous, exciting and set in a lifestyle most of us would only be able to dream about! A great read!

Rating: 4/5

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