17 October 2011

Book Review: 4am in Las Vegas by Michelle Jackson

It's Halloween in Las Vegas and things are crazier than normal for Connie the wedding planner. Vicky and Frank are in town for their nuptials but she soon realises that he has more on his mind than wedding bells. Vicky's teenage daughter Tina is less than impressed until she meets Connie's moody and enigmatic son Kyle. Frank's brother John is trying to hold everyone together but then something happens that turns the wedding party on their heads at 4am in Las Vegas! Life and love seem to have slipped through Suzanne's fingers but then, new to Facebook, she stumbles upon more than she expected when she receives a friend request from old flame Ronan in Boston. He's on his way to Las Vegas for a work convention and Suzanne's friend Eddie convinces her that she should go too. What has she got to lose? When they all meet in Binion's Casino the cards have already been dealt but will there be a winner?

I was thrilled to receive a copy of Michelle's latest novel 4am in Las Vegas, and I think the cover is fantastic too, exactly the sort of thing we all think of when we think about Las Vegas! It's a large paperback so seems quite a big story but as soon as I started reading, I didn't want to put it down. I have read and loved a few of Michelle's previous books, I love her stories centred around travel, with complex yet well stories wrapped around them. Michelle isn't afraid to write about hard-hitting issues, yet manages to combine these easily with the travel side, and consequently it makes for a great read. Luckily for me, 4am in Las Vegas is another success!

There are quite a few characters in this book to keep track of but once you've got it down, then it's easy to read and makes for a great reading book. The main story centres around Vicky and her fiancé Frank, and their upcoming nuptials in Las Vegas, hence the title of the book. Vicky is very much in love with Frank, and looking forward to being married again, but her daughter Tina isn't so sure - she isn't sure Frank is the right man for her mum after all, but Vicky puts her indifference down to her being a hormonal 18 year old. Frank on the other hand is hiding a big secret that threatens to ruin his impending nuptials. I have to say I didn't especially like Frank or Vicky - he was a rude man who had no consideration for Vicky and her feelings, and Vicky completely molly-coddled her now adult daughter and went completely over the top when her daughter makes a new friend, I found her a bit too annoying to really care about!

The other story in the book was that of Suzanne, a physiotherapist who is stuck at home with her poorly elderly mother. Suzanne has put her own life on hold in order to care for her mother, and I thought it was wonderful that Jackson chose to write such a selfless character, showing how important it is we all look after our parents in their old age. She gets back in touch with her school boyfriend Ronan through Facebook, and the pair find out that the feelings they used to have for each other are suddenly brought back to the surface again. Suzanne decides it's time to put herself first and get on with her life while her brother is in town looking after their mum. She finds herself flying out to Las Vegas with best friend Eddie to meet Ronan and see what will happen between them.

You can tell Michelle has really done her research by going over to Las Vegas before writing this book because it comes across so well in the writing. She writes so vividly about the landmarks, the places, the hotels that you really imagine you are there amongst Vicky and Suzanne, experiencing the amazing landscape that is Las Vegas, as well as the casino's, luxurious hotels and other things too. Las Vegas isn't somewhere I have been myself, yet I could easily imagine these places as they are written about. Jackson does write about things like casino's and gambling without going into too much detail about the games, but just enough for the reader to understand what it is the characters are doing!

Overall this book was a pleasure to read, and Michelle Jackson is still up there as one of my most anticipated authors because she hasn't let me down so far, and I'm on my third novel now! I loved that there was always something going on, and it didn't dip at all through the entire book. There are quite a few shocking revelations that come out which I didn't see coming, and I always love when an author can lead you astray like that. As well as the fun of Las Vegas, Jackson writes easily about the harder hitting issues such as debt, Alzheimer's, responsibility of looking after a sick parent and rebellious teens, and puts them across in a really good way that I enjoyed reading about. If you've loved Michelle's previous books, you'll definitely want to read this, but if you've missed out so far, I can definitely recommend starting with this one, a fabulous read!


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