*REVIEW* ~ Zenka, by Alison Brodie

#blackcomedy #drama #romance

Blurb

Devious, ruthless, and loyal.

Zenka is a capricious Hungarian with a dark past.

When cranky London mob boss, Jack Murray, saves her life she vows to become his guardian angel – whether he likes it or not. Happily, she now has easy access to pistols, knives and shotguns.

Jack discovers he has a son, Nicholas, a male nurse with a heart of gold. Problem is, Nicholas is a wimp.

Zenka takes charges. Using her feminine wiles and gangland contacts, she will make Nicholas into the sort of son any self-respecting crime boss would be proud of. And she succeeds!

Nicholas transforms from pussycat to mad dog, falls in love with Zenka, and finds out where the bodies are buried – because he buries them. He’s learning fast that sometimes you have to kill, or be killed.

As his life becomes more terrifying, questions have to be asked: How do you tell a mob boss you don’t want to be his son? And is Zenka really who she says she is?

My Review ~ 5 stars

Sheer brilliance – do yourself a HUGE favour and read this now! TOP READ

Zenka is a book like no other I have reviewed this year – a brilliant read and a guarenteed pick me up! One minute I was laughing out loud, the next I was cringing at the desperate straits and misunderstandings that befall the characters. Throughout it all Zenka, who acts as both the muse and the catalyst for the plot, entertains the reader with her wild and outlandish actions. The novel contains madcap and side-splitting antics galore, contrasting starkly with a host of gory and violent scenes.

The plot explores the very worst of the human condition – greed, deceit, violence and the abuse of trust, and also the very best – love , friendship , honour and loyalty. This dichotomy plays out in a deliciously devilish exposé that sweeps the reader and characters along into a vortex of black comedy and emotionally charged scenes. The novel delves into family, friendship ties and romance and  culminates in a heartfelt ending which expertly resolves the disparate plot strands.

I just loved the pairing of the mild mannered  and gentle nurse Nicholas and the fiery and unpredictable Zenka, the Hungarian pole dancer and friend of the gangster Jack. The couple are brought together, at Zenka’s insistence, when Jack, to whom she owes a huge debt, finds out that he has a son from a former lover. Zenka is determined to bring father and son together and to transform Nicholas into a man worthy of entering a life of crime.

The plot delves into what motivates us all and also poses the question of whether a leopard can change its spots – can the wimpy Nicholas become an alpha male worthy of his gangland dad and conversely can Jack renounce a life of crime for the son he never knew he had? If Zenka succeeds will she like the man Nicholas has become? Moreover how will Nicholas react when he finds out who is dad really is? And what will his response be when he learns of Zenka’s deceit when he has fallen in love with her? The result of all these shenanigans is life-changing for the main characters and those within their orbit. Indeed, The supporting cast, all of whom are beautifully portrayed, have their own trials and tribulations which are woven masterfully into the story.

Zenka, which would make an excellent film/TV drama, is a must read. It also has a seasonal flavour, making it a fantastic Christmas read.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note that a copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK   Amazon US

Connect with the Author

Link to website: http://www.alisonbrodiebooks.com/#!the-double/c1253

https://www.facebook.com/AlisonBrodieAuthor/

 

 

**Release Day Review, Author Post & Excerpt** BRAKE FAILURE by Alison Brodie

Released today, BRAKE FAILURE is a contemporary romance, with humour, suspense and a kick-ass heroine. The story is set in one of the most fascinating episodes in America’s history: the months leading up to Y2K “melt-down”. And, what’s more is that it’s just $1/£1 for the first five days of it’s release!!

brakefailurecoverwithreview793Title: Brake Failure

Author: Alison Brodie

Genre: Contemporary romantic suspense

Date released: January 9th, 2017

Length: 340 pages

Buy Links: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada

Blurb: “Is it too late to tell him you love him when you’re looking down the barrel of his gun?”

Ruby Mortimer-Smyth is upper-class English, rigidly brought up to marry a man from the pages of Burke’s Peerage. She knows the etiquette for every occasion and her soufflés NEVER collapse.

She is in control of her life, tightly in control. Until …she ends up in Kansas.

Ruby believes that life is like a car; common-sense keeps it on the road, passion sends it into a ditch. What she doesn’t know is, she’s on a collision course with Sheriff Hank Gephart.

Sheriff Hank Gephart can judge a person. Miss Mortimer-Smyth might act like the Duchess of England, but just under the surface there’s something bubbling, ready to erupt. She’s reckless, and she’s heading for brake failure. And he’s not thinking about her car.

With the Millennium approaching, Ruby gets caught up in the Y2K hysteria. She joins a Survivalists group, who give her a gun and advise her to stockpile basic essentials. Accordingly, she bulk-buys Perrier, Gentleman’s Relish and macaroons.

Ruby, far from home, is making Unsuitable Friends and “finding herself” for the first time. She falls in with a gang of Hells Angels and falls foul of the law. At every turn, she comes up hard against Sheriff Hank Gephart, whose blue eyes seem to look deep into her soul. She desperately wants him, but knows she can never have him.

She’s angry at the emotions he arouses in her. Pushed to her limit, she bursts from her emotional straightjacket.

As the clock strikes midnight of the new Millennium, she’s on a freight train with three million dollars, a bottle of Wild Turkey and a smoking gun.

What happened to Miss Prim-and-Proper? And why did she shoot Mr Right?
________________

Note: Alison Brodie wrote this story from first-hand experience. She lived in Kansas during this time and was stunned by the hysteria, unnerved that the US government was spending $150 billion preparing for Armageddon. As Lionel Shriver says in her novel, We Have To Talk About Kevin: “1999, a year widely mooted beforehand as the end of the world.”

REVIEW ***** (5* rating)

To say I loved this story is an understatement. Brake Failure is a powerful romantic suspense, with quick wit and humour at times when you least expect it for a great uplifting experience between the intense scenes. Ruby, an extremely well-to-do upper class Brit, has her hopes and dreams set on a life in Paris; living up to the expectations of her stepmother and stepsister. Marriage is more of one of convenience than love and desire, and so when she realises her husband has been offered a job in Kansas, USA instead of the sexy, sophisticated Paris she is quite disheartened and a tad embarrassed. However, when two men from completely different backgrounds enter her life her thoughts begin to spiral out of control.

Sheriff Hank Gephart is the man she keeps running into every time she does something wild and loose cannon-like. He always catches her during times of misbehaviour and craziness, letting her off the hook, but always telling her what to do, and who she shouldn’t be hanging out with. Another moment in his company and she’d lose her top. Yet, from deep within he has this invisible hold of her. She can’t stop thinking of him. But, no, she definitely hates him! Or, does she? Besides, who cares, she’s married to Edward and is certainly not going to be running off with anyone anytime soon.

Unless, Payat, the Red Indian Chief boss of her husband counts, with his tall, broad body, soft eyes and caring nature. Yes, if she were to have an affair it would definitely be him. Why on earth would she want the brute of a man, a cowboy, like Gephart, when she could have the soft, tender caressing love and protection from her seemingly lovely Indian? Yet, as a reader, it is the intensity of Hank’s character that gets the heart pacing, just as it does for Ruby, even if she is in denial.

“It would be like wanting a cuddly cat and being given a tiger. He (Hank) was too masculine, too overpowering, too much in charge. If she wanted to rock the security of her little world by going off with another man, she would choose Payat. Payat with his gentle manner, his shy dark eyes and, of course, his wildly romantic appeal.

But she wasn’t prepared to go off with another man. Like a filing cabinet, her life was compartmentalised and ordered. Edward was her husband. Payat was a delicious fantasy. And Gephart was the rogue piece of paper that had to go in the bin.”

Brake Failure draws you in from the very beginning as the reader learns that a sheriff has been shot. This leads the reader to question who shot him, why did they shoot, and where are they now? What will happen next? Stories that open up with a shocking scene always seem to be the best, as the reader searches for these answers, being gripped to every ounce of information that the author offers them.

The story weaves between the events that unfold in the investigation of the shot sheriff and the weeks leading up to that event. Did Ruby really shoot Hank? If so, what caused her to do so? And, where is she now? Did she leave, running scared after an accident? Or, did she decide to leave to go to Payat?

The differences of Ruby’s social class and etiquette in comparison to the culture and behaviour of those in the Mid-West adds plenty of humour to the story. Her Kansas friends are ever-eager to find out about the British Royal Family, whilst preparing themselves for a possible breakdown in society if computers start to crash during the 2000 New Year Millennium Bug. This encourages Ruby to start preparing herself, just in case. It is during some of these events that the reader is introduced to Ruby’s diary and her thoughts that will make the reader laugh out loud, along with her sarcasm towards her stepsister and Hank Gephart.

Alison Brodie keeps the readers guessing due to the surprises and twists that occur, and also because of Ruby’s sometimes erratic and indecisive behaviour. She has her family’s upbringing expectations to live up to, her perfect, classy housewife expectations of her husband’s, and yet (although in denial for the most part) starts wanting to live. Love shouldn’t be a lustful desire, but a companionship – a means to an end, but when she begins to desire things she’s not used to it sets her down a crazy path. This keeps the reader on their toes, making it a fast and exhilarating read that will stay with you for a very long time. Certainly a classic in my opinion!

A copy of Brake Failure was provided by the author, Alison Brodie, in return for a fair and honest review.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Other reviews include:

5 * “OMG…I freakin’ LOVED this book…going on the list of one of my favorites of 2016.” –Star Angels Reviews

5* “Everyone needs to read this book. It’s blooming brilliant.” –The Reading Shed

5* “Hilarious.” –Lauren Sapala, Book Reviewer and Writers’ Coach

5* “A laugh-out-tale that will keep you flipping the pages as fast as possible.” –Tome Tender

5* “Empowering…comical…refreshing.” –San Francisco Book Review

AUTHOR POST

ALISON BRODIE – Brake Failure

 

Brake Failure is about an English girl, Ruby, who has been strictly brought up to be polite – and to bottle her feelings. Then she arrives in Kansas and collides with Sheriff Hank Gephart, who gives her a hard time. Pushed to her limit, she bursts from her emotional straightjacket and commits minor acts of criminal insanity.

I loved writing this story. It was wonderful to be in Ruby’s skin and just be reckless, rude and raving!I I also love Hank. He is down-to-earth, controlling (he is a cop, after all) and very macho.

When I write a book, I allow my characters to tell the story. With this book, I just didn’t know how – or if – Hank and Ruby could ever get together. It seemed so impossible. I also loved Rowdy, the ugly dog she adopts, and Idabel, a Survivalist who teaches Ruby how to shoot a gun ready for Y2K “meltdown”.

I lived in Kansas during the time of the Millennium Bug and got quite worried about what would happen when the bell struck midnight of the new year! TV channels were either saying: “Just prepare as if for a 6-day blizzard.” Other channels were saying “Run for the hills!” I didn’t know what to think, especially as the American government was spending 150 billion dollars on preparing for the “bug”. Yikes!

This was an easy story to write because I didn’t need to do research. I lived there, went to all the dives, danced with cowboys, met real bull-riders, sheriffs, neighbours, Survivalists. The book reads more like a memoir! And the big event that happened right at the end? It really did happen. I have the Kansas City Star from 1 January to prove it!

Some readers may enjoy historical references: I mention Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac (institutes like these gave money to poor people, which would eventually lead to world recession).

The first Harry Potter book had just come out and was being burned (can you remember a time before the Year HP?)

Princess Diana had died two years before and the American people were still stunned, still asking questions. The Americans have a fascination for the Royal Family.

The Hadron Collider was just being built. Now it’s up and running and has found the Higgs boson.

So this book is a romcom, a memoir, a slice of recent history, plus a social document detailing the differences between America and Britain. Enjoy!

Alison Brodie Author photoAUTHOR BIO

Alison Brodie is a Scot, with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side. Alison was a photographic model for a wide range of products, such as Ducatti motorbikes and 7Up. She was also the vampire in the Schweppes commercial.

Alison lived in Kansas for two years. She loved the people, their friendliness, the history and the BBQs! Now, she lives in Biarritz, France with her rescue mutt, Bayley.

BRAKE FAILURE will be “unleashed” 9 Jan, 2017. See the reviews on Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31683339-brake-failure

Alison loves to hear from her readers. Link to website: http://www.alisonbrodiebooks.com/#!the-double/c1253

EXCERPT

Ruby!’ Karla shouted. ‘Git yer ass over here, gal.’

She wandered over, aware that he was more stoned than usual. He grabbed her hand and tugged. ‘Come on, Ruby-Ruby; tell us more about the Tower of London.’

She was not at all alarmed by his manner. Although he was built like King Kong, he was a pussy-cat. But she was in no mood for talking. ‘Nah, I’m going back inside,’ she said, making a half-hearted attempt to disengage herself.

GET YER HANDS OFF HER!’ The voice cut through the night air.

Gephart was striding towards them, his face murderous.

Karla was on his feet, hands bunched: ‘You talking to me?’ he growled, unaware that he was threatening a cop out of uniform.

Yeah, I’m talking to you.’

Karla stepped forward, chin thrust out. ‘What I do with her ain’t none of yer business!’

It’s alright!’ Ruby cried, grabbing Gephart’s sleeve to restrain his threatening punch. This was a mistake. With his arm held back, Gephart was unable to defend himself and took the full force of Karla’s fist in his face. Gephart let out a yell and fell back clutching his nose.

Ruby spun to Karla. ‘You idiot! Why on earth did you do that?’

Karla, startled by her verbal attack, didn’t see Hank’s fist coming. It cracked against his jaw, sending him reeling back.

Appalled, she turned angrily to see Hank going in for another punch. ‘STOP IT!’ She jumped between them and held out her hands. ‘THIS IS ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS!’ Goodness, she sounded like the Queen.

It worked, though. The combatants stared at her with a “what-the-hell-was-that” look.

Karla’s girlfriend arrived on the scene, wobbling on spiked heels and screeching. Everyone was making a fuss over Karla, yet no-one cared about Hank, who was bent over, cupping a hand under his bleeding nose. Ruby’s fury turned to pity. She picked up his Stetson.

Come on,’ she said, putting a hand on his back. ‘Let’s go inside and I’ll clean you up.’ She steered him towards the entrance, along the corridor and into the ladies lavatory. ‘You shouldn’t have hit him,’ she said, sitting him on a stool by the sink and taking the tube of Savlon from her bag. Apart from a pair of tweezers, the rest of her emergency medical supplies had long ago been abandoned to make space for makeup and perfume.

You were in trouble.’

She began filling the sink with hot water. ‘I wasn’t in trouble.’ Gephart was so close; she could feel the power of him.

Didn’t look that way to me.’

Karla’s my friend. He was just being silly.’ She yanked paper towels from the dispenser, soaked them in water, squeezed them out and began to wipe the blood from Hank’s face. He was staring at her but she refused to meet his gaze. Being so close, she could smell him, the beer on his breath, the smoky smell of hickory wood from his hair, the warm scent of male sweat; musty yet inoffensive. She could see the kink in his noise where it had broken, the crows’ feet at the corner of his eyes.

In the dance hall, the band finished their song with a rousing roll of drums. The roar of chattering voices filled the sudden silence. It was the interval. Females began filing in to the lavatory and, seeing Gephart, rushed forward, squeaking their sympathy. ‘Hank, sweetheart, does it hurt?’ ‘Can I help?’

When a hand reached out to touch his cheek, Ruby slapped it away. She was appalled at this base action. She quickly collected herself: ‘Ladies, please!’ That voice again. ‘We need space.’ Throwing her cautious looks, the females backed off.

Why had she slapped that girl? Shame-faced, Ruby soaked another fistful of paper and began cleaning the side of Gephart’s nose. All around was the sound of flushing loos, the spray of perfume, the click of lipsticks. Then the room went silent as everyone left. From the dance hall came the plaintive sound of a woman singing:

Let me ride through the wide open country that I love. Don’t fence me in. Let me be by myself in the evening breeze, listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees, send me off for ever but I ask you please, don’t fence me in …’

When Hank spoke again, his tone was low, dejected. ‘What happened to you at Shady Acres? I was waiting with a bunch of flowers to say thank you.’

She felt a twinge of guilt. He’d bought her flowers. ‘I’m sorry, Hank. I must have gone out the wrong door.’

You were running from me again, weren’t you?’

Her glance flickered over his blue eyes and quickly away.

Was it because I called you Sweet Cheeks?’

She was silent for a moment then a tiny laugh escaped. ‘Possibly.’

He stared at her. ‘You’re the most beautiful woman I ever did see.’

Ruby knew from the heat in her cheeks that her face had turned the fiercest red. She was panicking, unable to cope with these feelings.

How kind,’ she said coolly, trying to re-assert control of her emotions.

She sounded like Claire. Good. Now she had to be Claire.

I want you to know I’m more’n just a cop.’ He flexed his right hand – his punching hand – and grimaced. ‘I’m a bull-rider. I’ve won the bull-riders’ championship at Flint Hills Rodeo three years straight, and no-one west of State Line can rope a steer as good as me.’

Evidently, you are not a man who sits at home in a smoking jacket listening to Schubert.’ She was using biting sarcasm as a defence and was surprised when he chuckled.

Sure don’t sound like me.’ He shifted. ‘I’m building my own house out in Abilene with a veranda looking west to the sunset. And a picket fence that goes all around. Out in the yard there’s a live oak some say was used by Sherman’s scouts.’ He paused. ‘Come out with me Ruby. No strings. Just you and me. Bottle of wine. Steamboat on the Missouri. Moonlight. Then we can talk, start over. What do you say?’

It sounded appealing, and very romantic. All the pieces fitted perfectly, except one:

Him.

It would be like wanting a cuddly cat and being given a tiger. He was too masculine, too overpowering, too much in charge. If she wanted to rock the security of her little world by going off with another man, she would choose Payat. Payat with his gentle manner, his shy dark eyes and, of course, his wildly romantic appeal.

But she wasn’t prepared to go off with another man. Like a filing cabinet, her life was compartmentalised and ordered. Edward was her husband. Payat was a delicious fantasy. And Gephart was the rogue piece of paper that had to go in the bin.

It was time to tell him she was married.

I’m mar-’ She stopped and thought: This man is a cop, a control freak. What if he has the old-fashioned notion that this little lady should be at home with hubbie and not in some seedy bar mixing with drug-fuelled Hells Angels? What if, in a fit of pique, he tells Edward? Then I’m in big trouble and all “shore leave” will be revoked – permanently.

Hank sighed. ‘Sometimes I get the feeling you don’t like me.’

Possibly.’

He grabbed her wrist. Astonished, she found herself staring him straight in the eyes. ‘No, you don’t dislike me, Ruby,’ he whispered. ‘In fact, I bet if I asked nicely, you’d give me a kiss.’

She had the sensation of standing on railroad tracks and feeling, or imagining, the far-off trembling of something large racing her way. And yet she was powerless to move away as much as a step.

Go on, Ruby, I’ve been injured in the line of duty. Give me a kiss.’

No.’ His hand felt like a steel band around her wrist.

I saved your hide.’ Although his tone was cheeky, his eyes pleaded.

Then will you to let me go?’

I promise.’

Alright,’ she conceded, telling herself that for right or wrong, he was now sitting here because he’d believed she’d needed rescuing. She lowered her head, touched her lips to his cheek and jerked back.

His face was stamped with indignation. ‘What the hell was that?’ he thundered.

A kiss.’

I meant on the lips.’

She stared down at his mouth. A voice in her head told her to do it, another voice told her to run like hell. But she couldn’t run; not with him holding her. She bent and quickly pecked him on the lips. ‘There! That’s a kiss.’

Where I come from lady that was no kiss.’

He stood up abruptly. She sensed what was about to happen and felt the flutter of giant wings open inside her chest. But before she could step away, he pulled her against him, one hand coming around her to hold her arms, the other gripping the back of her head. She was immobilised, unable to turn from his advancing kiss. He lowered his head and slowly brushed his mouth across hers; she could feel his breath coming into her. She felt a dart of hot desire shoot up from between her legs. Then his mouth was on hers, pressing down…

A cheer of female voices and male wolf-whistles erupted from the doorway. Hearing it, Hank lifted his head to his audience, his arms loosening their hold on her. ‘Now that’s a kiss!’ he smirked.

Humiliated, she slapped him across the cheek and strode for the door. Laughter broke over her head like a wave. She shouldered her way through a jubilant crowd of heavily perfumed females and grinning cowboys. The bastard had got a laugh at her expense!

A man shouted out. ‘Hey, Hank, I got a notion she don’t like you!’

Another man agreed. ‘You ain’t gonna be herdin’ that pretty heifer into yer corral any time soon.’

In the babble of voices she heard: ‘… got yerself a maverick.’ ‘… Roxanne.’

It wasn’t until she was outside that she realised she was crying.

brake-failure-teaser-2733

 

 

**REVIEW** The Double by Alison Brodie

It was a great pleasure to be approached by author, Alison Brodie, and be asked to read The Double. I am so very glad that she did. It’s an amazing adventure; a great book to read if you’re planning a holiday or even basking in the sunshine in your garden. Get ready for the most relaxing adventure you’ll experience!

“The luxury of living a lie.”

 

THE DOUBLE

Title: The Double

Author: Alison Brodie

Genre: Women’s fiction, mystery, romance, chick-lit

Date released: January 19th, 2016

Length: 294 pages

Blurb: A night she can’t remember. A week she won’t forget.

*

Beth is mistaken for rock star Sonita La Cruz, and ends up on a billionaire-dollar yacht. As a shift-worker in Glasgow, Beth has only known hardship. Now she’s in a world of uniformed stewards, delicious French food and rows of gorgeous designer clothes. Beth keeps quiet about the mix-up, determined to wear every outfit in her wardrobe before she’s sent home. What’s wrong with a little play-acting? Beth takes to the role of rock diva like a duck takes to water.

Aleksandr, the captain, arrives and is astonished to see a beautiful raven-haired girl lying on deck issuing orders through a loud-hailer. After talking to Beth, Aleksandr realises what has happened. His smuggling buddies, knowing Aleksandr needs to speak to Sonita about a kid’s crisis, grabbed Beth by mistake. Aleksandr is desperate. To save those children, he needs money, but Sonita has disappeared.

Beth rises to the challenge. She looks like Sonita, so why not BE Sonita? Beth does a magazine interview for one million dollars, and ransoms herself for another million. Beth saves the kids … but can she save herself? Too late, Beth discovers why Sonita disappeared.

*

A love story set against the backdrop of a luxury yacht on the Côte d’Azur, a civil war in the Eastern Bloc, and a Glasgow housing estate.

Buy Links: Amazon UK & Amazon US

REVIEW ***** (5 star rating)

Alison Brodie’s The Double has it all; from diva Sonita, the rock star, being stalked and threatened, to a gritty, realistic housing estate in Glasgow where nurse Beth is trying to make sense of her life, right through to a kidnapping followed by a luxurious adventure on a billionaire’s yacht on the Côte d’Azur. Meanwhile, Aleksandr, the captain, has had to deal with the effects of a civil war in the Eastern Bloc, and is now fighting to save many children suffering with tuberculosis as medical supplies cannot reach them and warfare is threatening their makeshift hospital site. Yes, if you’re looking for a little drama and mystery in a well-constructed romance story this is perfect for you!

The opening chapter sparks the interest of the reader immediately as we find a seemingly dark character acting secretly and wants Sonita La Cruz dead! This is a dark start for a fun, romance novel, but it captures a sense of fear and suspense from the offset, making the curious reader need to find out what becomes of both parties.

Although written in third person, the reader has an in-depth take on each main character as whole chapters are focussed on one at a time, as we discover their current situations as well as their background. My favourite character has to be Beth, partly for wanting the escape that she is able to have from her average life, and partly as she is the one that takes many risks throughout the story.

Beth is at the point in her life where, even though a mum, she is still young. Her kids are independents now, and aside from her nursing job, all  she has is a selfish man in Andy, and a shabby tower-block flat. Once the initial kidnapping is realised, Beth begins to come round to the idea, choosing to go along with it. I mean, after all, when does she ever feel free; free from routine, free from work, free from Glasgow, free from Andy and his controlling ways. Surely she deserves some luxury and freedom at last. Why not pose as beautiful superstar Sonita La Cruz? Beth begins to think that maybe her dreams could come true, and she doesn’t have to feel so trapped in her life. She adapts quickly and learns how to relax, to enjoy life, rather than stressing about her work, Andy, money, etc.

“This was so different to sunbathing at home. There, she had a tiny balcony, just about big enough for four plastic stools, a bike repair box and a scrawny plant….. In the summer, between five and six in the evening, the sun would touch one corner of the balcony – high up. Desperate for sunshine, she’d stand in her knickers and bra, one foot on a stool, one foot on the railings, her hand holding onto the washing line for support….

… Now, instead of teetering on the edge of a council block in saggy grey knickers, she lay on a cushioned sun-lounger alongside a luxurious pool, on a gorgeous yacht with a champagne re-fuelling depot nearby and an army of uniformed stewards, out of sight, but close at hand, ready to be summoned by the tinkling of a little bell.” (Beth)

That said, it is also clear that Sonita La Cruz is also looking for an escapism. Although a rock star, she is not recording the style of music she favours, she is very much subjected to media attention constantly, and her real feelings lie with being charitable to those, especially children, in need – something that her partner ignores. During the course of the story, ignorant of Beth’s situation, Sonita tries to find a relaxing moment herself, as she keeps her head down low from any threat, and her busy lifestyle.

It is a certain read in particular for the summer and holiday season. And, one of the most exciting and fascinating parts of the story were, for me, the way in which it provides a largely relaxing read despite the dark drama/mystery that lies beneath the surface. I just loved imagining myself to be in Beth’s shoes sunbathing on a luxurious yacht on the Med, blue skies, blue sea, with fine dining and clothes, etc, and not worrying too much about the consequences until I’d have to.

The icing on the cake is the knowledge that Beth is quite aware, certainly as the story progresses, that it is all in the name of charity; in being able to hopefully provide many children with the treatment that they need, during an absolutely crucial time when no one else can! Mix that in with a chance of romance and it is perfect. But will Beth realise where her heart is really at before it’s too late?

If you’d like a book to transport you on a relaxing holiday, with fun, drama and romance The Double is just the one!

A copy of The Double was provided by Alison Brodie in return for a fair and honest review.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

You can also check out Alison Brodie’s author bio, along with an excerpt of The Double here.

*Promo w/Author Bio & Excerpt* The Double by Alison Brodie

“The luxury of living a lie.”

 

THE DOUBLE

Title: The Double

Author: Alison Brodie

Genre: Women’s fiction, mystery, romance, chick-lit

Date released: January 19th, 2016

Length: 294 pages

Blurb: A night she can’t remember. A week she won’t forget.

*

Beth is mistaken for rock star Sonita La Cruz, and ends up on a billionaire-dollar yacht. As a shift-worker in Glasgow, Beth has only known hardship. Now she’s in a world of uniformed stewards, delicious French food and rows of gorgeous designer clothes. Beth keeps quiet about the mix-up, determined to wear every outfit in her wardrobe before she’s sent home. What’s wrong with a little play-acting? Beth takes to the role of rock diva like a duck takes to water.

Aleksandr, the captain, arrives and is astonished to see a beautiful raven-haired girl lying on deck issuing orders through a loud-hailer. After talking to Beth, Aleksandr realises what has happened. His smuggling buddies, knowing Aleksandr needs to speak to Sonita about a kid’s crisis, grabbed Beth by mistake. Aleksandr is desperate. To save those children, he needs money, but Sonita has disappeared.

Beth rises to the challenge. She looks like Sonita, so why not BE Sonita? Beth does a magazine interview for one million dollars, and ransoms herself for another million. Beth saves the kids … but can she save herself? Too late, Beth discovers why Sonita disappeared.

*

A love story set against the backdrop of a luxury yacht on the Côte d’Azur, a civil war in the Eastern Bloc, and a Glasgow housing estate.

Buy Links: Amazon UK & Amazon US

Author Bio

Alison Brodie Author photo

Alison Brodie is a Scot, with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side of the family. Alison was a photographic model, modelling for a wide range of products, including Ducatti motorbikes and 7Up. She was also the vampire in the Schweppes commercial.

A disastrous modelling assignment in the Scottish Highlands gave Alison an idea for a story, which was to become Face to Face. She wrote Face to Face as a hobby and then decided to send it off to see what would happen. It was snapped up by Dinah Wiener, the first agent Alison sent it to. Three weeks later, Alison signed a two-book deal with Hodder & Stoughton. Subsequently, Face to Face was published in Germany and Holland. It was widely reviewed, ie: “Vain, but wildly funny leading lady.” -Scottish Daily Mail. It was also chosen as Good Housekeeping’s “Pick of the Paperbacks.”

Unfortunately, Alison then suffered from Second-Book Syndrome. The publisher’s deadline loomed and she was terrified because she didn’t have an idea for a story! She found the whole experience a nightmare; and this is why she cautions first-time authors to write more than one book before approaching an agent. She managed to finish the book – Sweet Talk – but it bombed.

While writing Sweet Talk, she moved to Kansas and lived there for two years. She loved the people, their friendliness, their free-and-easy way of life, the history and the BBQs! Sadly, her visa ran out and she had to come back to the UK – although her dream is to one day live permanently in America. Now, Alison lives in Biarritz, France with her rescue mutt, Bayley.

Alison has taken the exhilarating steps to becoming an indie author. Her second ebook, THE DOUBLE, is out on Amazon Kindle with some great reviews. “Excellent.” –San Francisco Book Review.

Alison writes contemporary romance. She aims for a strong plot line, set against the background of a world-changing event, coupled with touches of humour, sexual tension and character transformation.

She loves to hear from her readers.

Link to website: http://www.alisonbrodiebooks.com/#!the-double/c1253

Excerpt

Aleksandr

It was early evening when Aleksandr leapt from his boat and onto the boarding platform of the Kazka. All around the sea boiled as the great engines roared. Why was the Kazka moving? he wondered. Had Gerrard found another captain to replace him?

He saw Gerrard at the top of the stairs and bounded up. ‘Are you sailing?’ he shouted to the butler.

Gerrard’s answer was lost in the roar. As the noise of the engines subsided, Aleksandr spoke again. ‘I’m sorry I’m late, I tried contacting you but my radio is dead.’

I have something to tell you Aleksandr.’

Hearing the grave note in his friend’s voice, Aleksandr stilled. Something was wrong.

We have a passenger aboard,’ Gerrard began. ‘A woman.’

Aleksandr nodded. So far, it didn’t sound too bad.

Her name is Sonita La Cruz.’

Sonita La Cruz?’ Aleksandr repeated cautiously.

That is correct.’

The American singer?’

Yes.’

Aleksandr gripped Gerrard’s arms. ‘My friend, you cannot believe how lucky this is! I have been desperate to speak to her and all this time she was here, as Karimov’s guest.’

She is not a guest of Karimov. As we speak, he is in Marseilles, detained by the French authorities and knows nothing of her presence on board. It was your friend, Boris Lazutin, who brought her here. He found her in Port Glasgow and-’

Stop!’ Aleksandr’s shoulders sagged with bitter disappointment. ‘She is an imposter. An American rock star would have no reason to be in Port Glas-’

It is her,’ Gerrard insisted. ‘Boris looked in her passport.’

Aleksandr scoffed: ‘Sonita La Cruz permitted Boris Lazutin to look in her passport?’

She did not give permission, because …’ Gerrard took a visible breath. ‘There was chloroform in the shipment they picked up …’

Aleksandr felt the first stirrings of unease. ‘And?’

They abducted her.’

No.’ Aleksandr shook his head emphatically. ‘Boris would never do such a thing.’

It was Igor.’

Igor!’ Aleksandr balled his fists. This, he could understand. His old cell-mate had the morals of a barbarian, and what had he, Aleksandr, said to him back in Odessa? ‘How I wish I could speak to Sonita, if only for five minutes.’

The Chechen, ever loyal, had given Aleksandr his wish. But at what cost?

She must have been terrified!

Gerrard reared back in affront. ‘Pas de tout! Boris and Dimitri showed her a message, in English, reminding her of the children and immediately she understood what was happening. She even sang for them and signed autographs.’ Gerrard swept out a hand. ‘And her time with us has been most pleasant, I can assure you. She has been quite content to wait for your arrival … until last night.’ Gerrard sighed. ‘If only you had arrived earlier, this debaçle would never have occurred.’

What happened last night?’

She wanted to go ashore to make a phone call. When I told her she could not leave the ship, she became wild with fury.’ Gerrard held out his palms. ‘But I could not allow her to make that call. Her intentions may be good, they may be bad, but I cannot risk police investigation, especially at this time.’

Yes, yes, of course.’

Gerrard continued: ‘She believes her abduction was part of a game.’

‘A game?’

Mais, oui. The rich become easily bored; it is a curse. They need always to search for fresh amusement. She talked of James Bond and hunting micro-chips that would save the world. Perhaps, she believed a friend had taken her. When she realised this was no game, she accused you, Aleksandr, of masterminding her abduction. She also began to insist that she is not Sonita La Cruz.’

She has been shunted from boat to boat like a barrel of beer. Is it any wonder she wishes to be anyone but herself?’ Aleksandr raked his fingers through the stubble of his hair. There had been a glimmer of hope that this one woman would help them but … now?

Where is she? Take me to her.’

No. You are dirty and unshaven. You must scrub yourself, first.’

No more delay!’ Aleksandr marched off. ‘I brought photos and a video recording to show you – now I can show them to her. And when she sees the suffering, she will forgive everything.’

Gerrard put a hand on the big man’s arm. ‘For the sake of privacy, she has asked me to use her alias, Mademoiselle Skiffington.’ He hurried to catch up with the big man. ‘My friend, you will be disappointed. This woman will not help you. The means by which she has been brought here have cancelled out the good intentions she may have had.’

But I must try.’ Aleksandr had to shout as, once more, the ship’s engines began to roar. ‘Why are we moving?’

Gerrard waited for the noise to subside before answering. ‘Mademoiselle has given the order to turn the Kazka around.’ He shrugged helplessly. ‘She wishes to view the sunset without having to move from her chair.’

Aleksandr gazed at Gerrard in astonishment. He was now aware of classical music. The clarity of the sound system was astounding, as if a live orchestra was performing. He walked onto the open deck. It was a live orchestra; the musicians dressed as angels.

Beside him, Gerrard muttered, ‘She has been making outrageous demands of me. An orchestra dressed in wings. Cocaine. Even peanut butter! It has been a nightmare. She keeps saying, “You want a rock star, pal, well that’s exactly what you’re going to get.”’

As the ship’s engines began to grow in volume, a woman’s voice filled the sky.

STOP THE BOAT – YOU’RE GIVING ME A HEADACHE!’

Then he saw her.

She reclined on a sunbed, holding a loudhailer to her mouth. A small white animal sat on an ornate gold chair beside her. Because the rock star was angled away from him, he could not see her face, only the veil of long black hair cascading over a crimson gown, and a slim brown leg, bent at the knee.

At her command, the engines subsided, leaving only the music. The loudhailer swung to the orchestra. ‘MOZART PIGFART! FUCK OFF!’ She tossed the loudhailer to the deck in childish bad-humour. ‘Gerrard!’ she called peevishly. ‘I need an aspirin.’

Immediately, Mademoiselle,’ Gerrard replied before hurrying away.

Aleksandr hesitated. Was this the woman who had written to him promising her help? He strengthened his resolve against his growing sense of dread and walked forward.

As he drew to a halt beside her chair, he saw a scarlet bikini against brown silken skin and a diamond-studded belt around slim hips – a belt which seemed to be an exact replica to the collar around the animal’s neck. She held a silver teaspoon to the creature’s mouth, watching as the tiny tongue licked the caramel-coloured paste from the spoon. Aleksandr had never been interested in the music scene, but he couldn’t deny this surge of ‘teenage’ excitement that he now stood before someone so famous.

As his shadow fell over her, she waved him away. ‘I am TRYING to look at the sunset.’

He stepped to one side. ‘Miss Skiffington-’ he began.

Where’s my aspirin?’ The sunglasses glanced in the direction of his hands. ‘What do I have to do? Writhe around on the deck in agony?’ With her attention on him now, her gaze travelled sharply up and over him. ‘Oh my God!’ She sat straight. ‘How dare you stand there … dirty. Look at your fingernails – they’re black!

It’s not dirt. It’s engine oil.’

Engine oil!’ She recoiled; pulling her scarlet robe tight around her as if fearful he would mark it. ‘What are you doing outside the engine room? Go back in, immediately.’

He pulled up a chair from the table and sat down.

I am not a mechanic,’ he said. ‘I am Aleksandr Shtcherbatsky Zhivago.’

Beth

Beth didn’t give him a second glance. She lifted her chin and shouted across the deck, ‘Gerrard, I am not stupid!’ God, she thought, Gerrard must be desperate to pacify me if he has to dig up a man from the engine room and palm him off as Zhivago.

She carried on feeding Pookie, smiling indulgently as she watched the tiny tongue licking the peanut butter off the spoon. She’d expected some big greyhound-type and had been surprised and delighted to receive this little bundle of fluff. Tonight, at dinner, she would clip diamond ear-rings on his perky ears.

The mechanic still hadn’t budged. She shouted again: ‘GERR-ARD!’

I am Aleksandr Shtcherbatsky Zhivago,’ the man blustered.

Look, sunshine, I know you’re not, so take a hike.’

Why do you say this? Why do you believe I am not him?’

Because he’s short, fat and ugly and you’re …’ Needing the relevant description to finish the sentence, she inspected the man from over the top of her sunglasses. He sat with his big hands gripping his knees, heavy black eyebrows converging into a frown. Despite the oil marks, dirt and bruises, he was strikingly handsome, if a little wild-eyed, ‘… not.’

She turned her attention back to Pookie.

Short and fat?’ the man echoed.

She sighed. ‘His photos are all over the boat, so I know what he looks like.’

Ah, that is Yakov Karimov. He is the owner of the Kazka. I am the captain.’

She wasn’t going to let him think she was listening but she was, her eyes narrowed suspiciously behind her sunglasses. Was she being led to believe that instead of being abducted by a suave and sophisticated billionaire, she had in fact been abducted by a man who reeked of diesel?

He took out a wallet. ‘This is my captain’s licence.’

She saw his photo stamped with an official seal and the name: Aleksandr Shtcherbatsky Zhivago.

Zhivago!’ She spun on her bottom and planted her feet firmly on the deck between them. ‘You! You had me kidnapped!’

Startled, he held out his palms against her accusation. ‘Please, Miss La-’ He quickly corrected himself, ‘Miss Skiffington. I knew nothing of it. I have come from Odessa on my own boat, with no means of communication. This was the fault of Igor. He knew how desperately I wanted to talk to you, but there is no excuse for what he did.’

The man hoisted a satchel onto his lap. ‘I have video recording and photographs that will prove my honesty. Five minutes of your time is all I ask. If, after that, you do not wish to involve yourself, I will gladly escort you from the ship.’

The words, ‘But you’ve got the wrong woman!’ had been on the tip of Beth’s tongue but his suggestion struck her dumb.

Escort you from the ship.

But she didn’t want to be escorted from the ship!

She lay back on the chaise-longue, her thoughts flustered and indignant. Pierre was making her favourite pudding tonight: Charlotte Malakoff aux Framboises. And the fur-trimmed, copper-coloured gown – which she knew to be extra-special because she’d discovered it in a refrigerated wardrobe – was now hanging ready in her dressing room.

Of course, she wanted to leave, had to leave, but this was all too … sudden.

A launch is waiting,’ Zhivago added helpfully. ‘You can be back in Glasgow by midnight.’

Glasgow…

She thought of Andy’s twisted, angry face; the smell of urine on the stairs; the cacophony of televisions and wailing babies. The flat with its low-ceiling and box rooms with no space to move, to breathe, to think. She gazed towards the horizon seeing the pink feathery clouds that the sun had left behind; the heart-melting blue of the sky that went on for ever; the silence, the space, so much glorious space, it made her feel she could spread her arms and fly.

Your aspirin, mademoiselle.’ Gerrard bent towards her, holding a tray.

I don’t want it.’

Gerrard straightened. ‘Mr Shtcherbasky Zhivago has explained everything, I trust?’

She nodded sullenly. She knew she was behaving like a petulant prima donna but she couldn’t help herself. Anyway, it was their fault. They’d given her a mega cruise-liner, a battalion of servants, diamond tiaras and designer frocks; and now they were throwing her back to where she’d come from as if she was a rag doll.

I am relieved,’ Gerrard said. ‘Now, I hope, you can forgive me for keeping you here?’

She refused to look at him.

Let me bring you a beer, Captain Shtcherbatsky Zhivago.’ Gerrard moved off. ‘And I will fetch water for Pookie.’

Beth looked at her little dog. She couldn’t take him back to Glasgow. How thoughtless of her to demand an animal. But it wasn’t her fault! It was these people who had made her so angry she’d been unable to think straight. Now, Pookie would have to go back to the breeders. And she would have to go back to Glasgow.

She scowled at Zhivago. I will stay one more night, she decided. I’m owed that much. After that, I don’t care if they think I’m Sonita La Cruz or King Kong.

She paused in thought: Had Sonita promised to help with this children’s hospital? If so, was she, Beth, hindering the project by continuing this farce? But, surely, one more night wouldn’t make any difference. She turned to Zhivago. ‘I just want to get a couple of things straight. Why have you brought me here?’

To discuss building a children’s hospital.’

And you’re not holding me to ransom?’

He looked appalled. ‘No! Please believe me, no.

She did believe him. With her eyes obscured behind her sunglasses she was able to study him openly. He was dark, rather tensely drawn with a swarthy gypsy-look. Although he looked like some un-neutered tom-cat, there was a reassuring sincerity about him.

OK,’ she announced. ‘I will stay one more night.’ Watching how he fell back in his chair, she could almost see the tension flow from his body.

Thank you,’ he whispered.

She carried on feeding Pookie, distancing herself from the man’s obvious relief. ‘So, where’s the owner while all this is happening?’

Yakov Karimov? He is in Marseille.’

And you’re the captain?’

Briefly, yes. I am to sail her back to her home port of St Tropez.’

St Tropez!

Although she continued to look at the man, her inner eye gazed beyond him, imagining herself at the prow of the Kazka with Pookie in her arms as the crème de la crème of the Riviera looked up from their aperatifs, watching them in awe.

When does the Kazka leave?’ she whispered, feeling her throat choked with tears.

Tomorrow.’ The man leant forward, misconstruing her silence. ‘I know this has been difficult for you.’ He removed a manila envelope from his bag. ‘But once you see the evidence, you will understand and forgive.’

Beth wasn’t interested in his envelope. She continued to stare into space, wistfully choosing the gorgeous outfits she and Pookie would have worn if they’d had the chance to sail into the most glamorous port in the world. She snapped from her reverie, aware of a lip-smacking sound. Pookie had peanut butter stuck to his upper palette and was trying to dislodge it with his tongue.

The man nodded. ‘What is it?’

Peanut butter. Crunchy.’

No, the animal. What is it?

A Papillon.’

What is that? A cat, a dog?’ The man tilted his head to one side. ‘A rabbit?’

A dog,’ she answered tartly, watching him suspiciously for signs of mockery.

Gerrard appeared and handed the Zhivago a glass of beer before placing a bowl of water on the deck. ‘Would you like your cocktail served now, Mademoiselle Skiffington?’

Startled, she realised the light had faded from the sky. ‘Absolutely not! I can’t possibly take my cocktail looking such a mess.’ She saw Zhivago’s expression and chose to ignore it. Slipping her feet into scarlet sling-backs, she scooped Pookie up from the bowl of water and stood straight. Courteously, Zhivago rose with her, increasing alarmingly in height.

Are you joining me for dinner?’ she asked; conscious of his dirty hands and loathe to think he might touch her.

That would be an honour, but do not worry, I will first scrub myself clean.’

She nodded her approval. Dressing up for oneself was fun, but not as much fun as when a man was there to appreciate it. And the fact that the man believed himself to be in the presence of a sex goddess added a delicious piquancy. She pushed her sunglasses to the top of her head to give him a clear-eyed look; then she bathed him in a dazzling smile, turned and sashayed away.

She would be Sonita … for one last night.

THE DOUBLE

‘Give any girl a billion-dollar yacht, a mile of pretty frocks and an army of manservants and she’ll turn into Cleo-sodding-patra!’ – The Double quote

Taglines

“She saved the children.  But who will save her?”

“Her dream came true but her nightmare is just beginning.”

“Only someone this bad could be this good.”