12 December 2011

Book Review: Manhattan by Ronni Cooper

Raine: Born in Brooklyn, the undisputed queen of the City, Raine owns the sexiest, starriest nightclub in New York - and no one is ever going to take her crown. Mei-Lin: The beautiful, enigmatic madam moves in all the right circles - but it wasn't always that way. Now her American dream has become a nightmare and she may have to pay the ultimate price for freedom. Stevie: Once the lead singer of the biggest female rock band in the world, Stevie is now flying solo – but she has a secret that could destroy her. Now all three women are about to discover that payback is the biggest bitch of all… 

I read Ronni Cooper's debut novel Rock Chicks last summer, and to be honest, had mixed opinions on it. I liked the idea behind the story but found it a bit hard going and quite crude in places. However, I decided that I would give Ronni Cooper another go with her new book Manhattan. I'm not a huge fan of the cover, I don't generally like white covers as they look a bit bland, but the story sounded interesting, quite along the lines of something I'd expect from Tilly or Louise Bagshawe in a way. I settled down to read, unsure of what I would make of this one after my previous experience, but I didn't expect an utterly engrossing read that had me captivated right until the last page!

The book follows the lives of three ladies; Raine, Stevie and Mei Lin. Each of them has had their life ruined in some way by one horrible man - Jason Tang. Due to that fact, they're determined to make their new club 'Manhattan' a success, even though they're all sure Tang is going to somehow get his revenge on them one day too. However, the book doesn't really focus on the women's present day lives, instead the book is virtually the entire back story of all 3 women, told through alternating chapters from the early 1980's through to the mid-90's, which is the present day of the novel. I actually really enjoyed the way the book was told, changing the focus every other chapter as to which character it was following, but I found it really easy to keep up with it. This way of telling the tale allowed us to really get into the heart of these characters, what drove them to their determination in the present day, and made for really interesting reading.

Each of the characters were very different, and each had a very different story to tell. Raine witnessed the death of someone close to her, and is determined to get revenge for that death, no matter the cost. However, her path leads to her to find herself a career she least expected. Stevie is a talented singer, and heads up a famous rock band. At the height of their fame, someone surfaces with something that is set to ruin Stevie and her career forever, so instead she runs away from the problem, scared to hunt down those responsible. Finally, Mei Lin was taken from her childhood home at a young age and forced to work for Tang, doing unspeakable things that she will never forget. Mei Lin needs to get out, but has to find a way to escape that means Tang will never come after her. Eventually, the women decide to work together to bring down Tang, and hopefully rid themselves of the stain of all of their lives.

I have to warn you now that this book is not for the feint-hearted. Some of the scenes, especially those involving Mei Lei cover topics that some people may not like to read about, and some quite graphic scenes will not be suitable for all readers. I'll tell you the topic now - Mei Lin is a prostitute, working in various brothels and due to the nature of her job, sexual scenes are frequent and some make for uncomfortable reading at points. However, I feel that Cooper writes convincingly about the topic - it isn't something I know anything about, nor would I care to but I really felt for poor Mei Lin reading it and while I was cringing at what she was forced to do, it did add to the topic and didn't feel like it was in there just to shock the reader. Other unusual topics are covered within the books, also in Raine's scenes, with again some graphic scenes and description but again, it didn't feel too out of place given the nature of the book.

I have to confess that despite some of the topics covered which I didn't exactly enjoy reading about, I found the book as a whole was fantastic read that I didn't want to put down. I found the story to be exciting, constantly moving and as a reader, I really didn't know what was going to happen next which I loved. I really liked each of the characters, they made for such interesting reading and really worked for the story. I feel like Ronni Cooper has really stepped up her game for this new book, and its an extremely well thought-out and constructed story. This won't be everyone's cup of tea because of the themes within, but if you fancy something a bit different and a bit racy this Christmas, then do look out for a copy of Manhattan, I thought it was fab!!

Rating: 5/5

You can pre-order Manhattan in paperback or eBook now! (Links go to Amazon.co.uk)

1 comment:

  1. Just about to start this one.
    Looking forward to it.