After reading the plot synposis, I just knew this was a book I had to read. Complicated friendships? Check. Sexy scenes? Check. Oxford? Check. (It's uni application time soon ahh) Sounded like I book I needed to read.
I'm not that big a fan of 'contemporary romance' as I find romance books are either too soppy or not soppy enough. If I had to pick which category 'A Bed of Knives' fits into, I'd probably say 'not-soppy-enough', purely because I don't really remember any scenes that could be deemed particularly 'romantic' - but this didn't bother me. I would only put it into that category because I felt that the ending of the book was a bit too rushed and there was little relationship development. The first part of the story was brilliant for setting the scene and getting the story going, but I felt that the end to the story could've been a little more detailed to make it more plausible. The slightly rushed nature made the ending a little hard for me to believe because I didn't really feel like anything that I'd read was concrete enough for the ending to have been produced. Nonetheless, A Bed of Knives was an interesting book that explored a complex friendship between four friends. Plus, I can totally relate to the whole friendship-or-more dramas that were going on drew me in even further.
The book is written in two parts, one part in the present and the other five years earlier, and the narrative frequently switches between two different times. Each time you go back in time you learn a little more about the characters and how they got to where they are in the present which helped to pace the novel and keep you drawn in. I liked that the author didn't tell you everything at once and that there was an air of mystery to all of the characters. At the end there is a brief 'One year later' passage as well which is a nice way of showing the progression.
I think all the characters in the novel are likeable which made me enjoy the book all the more. There are four main characters: Gina, Spider, Rose and Eddie and all of them end up leading very different lives, which makes it all the more interesting when they are thrust back together again. You really sympathise with all of the characters, even those that have done wrong, because sometimes it really is just bad timing.
I'd say that there's quite a sombre tone underlying this novel and I don't think there were any points during the story where I actually felt 'happy'. However, that isn't to say that this book made me depressed. A lot of the things that happen are certainly devastating to the characters and I pitied a lot of them for the bad situations that they were in.
As for the sexual scenes, I'm not really sure what to say. Like it says in the synopsis, it isn't erotica, but its still fairly explicit. If you're easily offended by scenes of a sexual nature then this probably isn't the book for you, though they shouldn't bother the vast majority of people because they are infrequent and short.
All in all, A Bed of Knives was a fantastically written book that had me gripped from the beginning until the end. The story is interesting and the changing perspectives and time make it all the more intriguing. The characters are all likeable and whilst the outcome of the novel is predictable, the events along the way are not.