Wednesday 26 May 2010

Book review : Forbidden Pleasures - Jo Rees

Having read Platinum, I already knew that Jo Rees was a master (or should that be mistress ?) of writing about the decadent lifestyles of the filthy rich and the harsh, cut-throat world that lies beneath the glitz and sparkle. She's so good at portraying the high-life that I was amazed to see how down-to-earth she is on her blog, Mum Writes Books, where she talks about - amongst other things - Jamie Oliver, Peppa Pig and running the Brighton Marathon ! I also hadn't realised that Jo Rees is the married name of Josie Lloyd, who originally wrote under her maiden name, including several best-sellers co-written with hubby Emlyn Rees.

But back to the book. As soon as I discovered that Forbidden Pleasures was set in the glamorous casinos of Las Vegas, Dubai and Shanghai, I was expecting the same glitzy but pitiless atmosphere of Platinum. Jo comes up trumps yet again, portraying a decadent and ostentatious world where danger and betrayal lurk at every luxuriously decorated corner. I smiled at the cheeky reference to Peaches Gold, the LA madam who put in an appearance in the previous novel.

Forbidden Pleasures follows the fortunes of two young women, carefree party-loving Savannah and ambitious, hard-working Lois. Whereas Savannah, or Savvy, lives the high life, having a good time and taking advantage of her rich casino-owning daddy's reputation and money, Lois is the "eye in the sky", keeping a tight reign on the security and the smooth running of a rival casino. The book portrays the huge adrenalin rush that gambling offers but also the tragedy that can strike when it all goes horribly wrong and people's lives are destroyed when their luck runs out.

But the greatest gambles for Savvy and Lois take place far away from the green baize and the teetering piles of chips. Both girls are damaged, mentally and physically, by their pasts and have to deal with a lot of emotional baggage before they are ready to take a chance on starting out on a new life and a new love. In this gamblers' paradise, where the ability to double-bluff everyone and maintain a poker face are vital, it is hard to know who your friends are and who your enemies are - as both girls discover to their detriment. When push comes to shove, the people who come to your rescue may be those you least expected, but in this world of gambling, things and people are rarely what they seem.

This is classic chick-lit, albeit with a steely edge, so it's happy endings all round - but some of the girls' dreams don't come true. To quote the classic Rolling Stones song, they discover that "You can't always get what you want and if you try sometime, you might find you get what you need" ! The girls learn a lot of life's lessons and come out of the other side as better and stronger individuals.

The sex scenes are slightly Mills & Boon, the characters are slightly flimsy, the plot is slightly predictable - but this is a perfect lightweight read for the beach or on a plane this summer. My advice is, be sure to stick it in your suitcase along with your shades and your factor 50 !

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £6.99

Paperback: 560 pages
Publisher: Corgi Books (5 Aug 2010)
Language English
ISBN-10: 0552156248
ISBN-13: 978-0552156240

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