27 July 2012

Book Review: The Beach Holiday by Anita Hughes

"Have you ever wanted to escape?

When Amanda finds her French husband wrapped around his sous-chef, her perfect life comes crashing down. Worse, Andre seems to think she should just accept his infidelity and carry on as normal for the sake of their young son, Max.

Devastated by his betrayal, Amanda accepts her mother's offer of an holiday and runs away with Max to an exclusive resort in Laguna Beach.

The St. Regis Hotel is heaven on earth and Max is having the time of his life. But while Amanda knows she should be using the time to think about what she wants, her life gets more complicated by a meeting with a handsome older man..."

Rating: 4/5

I was approached by Anita earlier this year to review her American published novel 'Monarch Beach'. I said yes because I was really interested after reading the blurb, but when Anita told me she was also being published in the UK by Ebury but under a different book title The Beach Holiday, I decided to wait until the UK release as it would be more appropriate given my readership is mainly UK based. The cover is pretty gorgeous, and I think it's definitely been released at the perfect time for the summer holiday market, and although it wasn't a long book (just shy of 300 pages), it was a really charming read, and it makes me look forward to reading further books from Anita!

Amanda Blick is happily married to French chef Andre, and living in relative luxury with their young son Max. However, Amanda's happy world is shattered when she walks in on her husband getting rather friendly with one of his staff members, and soon discovers this isn't the first time it's happened. She seems advice from her mother, and flees to a posh resort in Laguna Beach for some much needed R&R. When she stumbles across older man Edward, she doesn't expect to find herself attracted to him. Amanda struggles with her new feelings, and whether or not she really wants to leave behind the family life she's built up with Andre. Will Amanda's beach holiday be the end for her, or just an exciting new beginning?

This book doesn't hang about with setting up the scene for the plot, it just happens right at the start and I liked that. It dives straight in at the action, and immediately readers have sympathy for Amanda and her situation. Andre is written as being a French lothario, someone who doesn't see the wrong in what he's doing behind his wife's back because he still loves her and wants a family with her, but a little bit of extra on the side. I was worried that Amanda would be another in a long line of women who forgive their cheating spouse to keep the family together, or because she didn't want to lose him. When she decides to leave town with her mother, I was pleased as I hoped her mum would be a good influence on her. I have to say I loved the character of her mother, she's still grieving the loss of her husband and her own life is led in her husband's memory, not leaving her marital home and feeling somewhat lost. Amanda's trip is not only a life change for her, but for her mother too and I enjoyed reading the close relationship the pair shared.

When the other male in Amanda's life Edward was introduced, I have to confess to being hesistant - he didn't seem like the knight in shining armour Amanda was looking for. In fact, the best male in the entire book was Max, Amanda and Andre's son. He's written perfectly for his age, largely unaffected by his upheaval, and happy to go and do his sports. He was a joy to read about, and was the star in every scene he was in. I loved how close Amanda was with her son too, and how she wanted to try and do the best by him she could. It's a book about different relationships, and how you can learn to define yourself as someone outside of them after being trapped for so long, and I found it a refreshing read in this respect. I hate to use the term, but Amanda does really go on a journey throughout this novel, and I was rooting for her to break away from the awful Andre all the way through the book, he was just slimy and nasty!

The setting was lovely, and the St Regis resort at Laguna Beach sounded like heaven on earth. Amanda and her mother are very wealthy, and Hughes makes this clear by her designer label dropping, descriptions of posh Bentley's and luxurious surroundings at the hotel, but whereas in other books designer brand dropping has annoyed me, it didn't in this book as it isn't used overly heavily or to show off, it's just to remind us of Amanda's lifestyle and financial circumstances. Although Amanda and her mother are wealthy, they aren't defined by their wealth and I liked that. I enjoyed Hughes' writing style, it was very easy to read and I found myself getting into the book straight away. As it's a fairly short book, I read it quite quickly but enjoyed every page. Having read it, I think I like the original title of 'Monarch Beach' better, the reference to something significant in the book is well done there, but there you are! A very enjoyable book I recommend for good summer reading.

You can buy The Beach Holiday as a paperback or an eBook now.

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