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!!
Author: Alison Brodie
Genre: Contemporary romantic suspense
Date released: January 9th, 2017
Length: 340 pages
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
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 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
‘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:
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.’
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?’
‘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.
‘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.