7 December 2011

Book Review: The Jewels of Manhattan by Carmen Reid

Like all crazy plans, it was plotted out on a cocktail napkin.

1. Steal fabulous jewels

2. Sell for millions

3. Live happily ever after

Brilliant and oh so simple... when you're a few Cosmopolitans down.

Not quite so easy... if you've never stolen anything before, and you're dating a detective.

The three Jewel sisters, Amber, Sapphire and Em, came to New York in search of the perfect life.

But do they have to steal their dream? Or can they resist the temptation?

I am a big fan of the Annie Valentines series written by Carmen Reid, but I've previously only read one of her stand-alone novels, Three In A Bed, which I really enjoyed. I've been really excited to read Carmen's latest book, another stand-alone novel called The Jewels of Manhattan. I have to say I was disappointed with the cover, which has been outed as being a virtual copy of Miranda Dickinson's novel Fairytale of New York, but I was willing to forgo that and see what the story inside was going to be like. I was hoping for something funny, sassy and a bit "Carmen Reid" but I have to confess that this book wasn't really what I was expecting at all.

First of all, this book is set in America, and is starring American characters. Reid is Scottish, and all her characters before this that I've read have been British, or at least set within a British novel, and I always get the sense that it feels authentic and I don't have a problem reading it. However, with this one, from the beginning I felt like I was a bit unsure about the authenticity of what I was reading, although I don't know why. I've read plenty of non-American authors writing books set abroad, yet this one just didn't sit right with me. I think it was mainly the characters that made it a bit flawed for me, but it is just an overall feeling of the book that I get and couldn't seem to shake off throughout.

The main three characters are the Jewel sisters - Amber, Sapphire and Em. Each of them were very different and I found it easy to tell each of them apart and follow each of their stories, which was good, as I sometimes find with multiple lead characters, it can be a bit confusing. I disliked Em from the beginning, I found her to irresponsible and reckless to be a person I could grow to like, and this was just exacerbated as I read further into the book. Amber was a bit more gutsy and probably the most realistic of the sisters - very hard-working and honest, and I liked how much she wanted to work for a living. Finally there is the most shy sister, Sapphire, who works at an auction house. I liked her but felt we didn't see enough of her to really know her that well, and she did seem a bit naive about the men in her life. Overall, they are three very different characters, and while I disliked Em, and didn't get to know Sapphire enough, I thought they were okay as lead characters, and it was nice to have the family dynamic.

The story is about the sisters attempting a jewellery heist, and I found this was quite interesting. It isn't something I have read much about in chick lit if I'm honest, so it was a good idea of Reid's to branch out into something new and different, especially from her previous books. Yes, she has her fashion in there still courtesy of the three glamourous sisters, but this is really about their lives and the attempted jewellery heist. Without giving too much away, I found things happened a bit too easily for the sisters, and the idea for the robbery seems to just come out of nowhere. Reid does go into a lot of detail about the gems that the sisters want, but as I said, other things happen too fast and way too easily, and in that respect it felt a bit too unbelievable for me.

If I am completely honest, it felt more like I was reading a book for the YA market rather than the women's fiction market, parts of it felt quite juvenile and I just didn't feel like I had to give it my all as I was reading. It was an amusing enough read with some good characters, but there were just elements of it that bothered me and I have to admit I wasn't captivated by it. I did guess the ending, but I have to say that Reid did keep me guessing as I was reading, and I didn't see all of the events within the book coming which was good. If you're a fan of Reid's Annie Valentine series, then I can't necessarily say that you'll like it because it is so different, but if you fancy something a bit unusual to read, then do try The Jewels of Manhattan. It wasn't 100% my cup of tea, but it made for interesting reading!

Rating: 3.5/5

You can buy The Jewels of Manhattan in both paperback and eBook now! (links go to Amazon.co.uk)

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