I originally purchased the book because I have read the majority of Louise Bagshawe's novels, and having realised that Tilly was her sister I assumed this novel would be as good.
Scarlett is a young woman who runs her own Diamond Store, she customises the jewelry herself, and each diamond is fairly sought as she fights for human rights in the mining towns in third world countries. In doing so she upsets a big corrupt and imoral diamond dealer who in turns destroys her london business. In an attempt to defeat and rise above him, she moves to New York and goes into nusiness with two London brothers, one of whom falls for the big diamond dealer's wife, and the other falls for Scarlett herself.
The story once it gets going is fairly fluid with the plot locations alternating between New York, London, Russia and Scotland, as well as the characters' different stories.
The plot itself is rather predictable but it is still an enjoyable read.
Im my opinion having read this novel only, and basing my opinion solely upon this novel, I prefer Louise's style of writing, with it being more feisty and fast paced!
I've read a most of the books by the Bagshawe sisters, and for any of you that didn't know, I'm really quite a fan. Not one to really go in for the traditional "chick lit" books, I do however like to occasionally read the types of books that are aimed at the young female audience but have a punchier edge - a sort of modern Jilly Cooper etc if you will. So far, the Bagshawe sisters (the other one being Louise Bagshawe) are the only ones that I return to and seem to have all the right ingredients to make a truly good book in this genre. Admittedly, the stories can be as samey as those in the traditional chick lit genre, but at least the men are feisty, the women feistier, there is buckets of glamour and even more bucket loads of sex and scandal!
Tilly Bagshawe's latest book doesn't disappoint in this area. Again, the plot is the well worn path of most of her heroes and heroines of the past. It goes a little like this; Scarlett Drummond Murray is a force of nature in the diamond business; incredibly creative with her jewellery but with a ferocious moral streak about the way I which diamonds are sourced and is not afraid to make a stand on it - much to the consternation of other diamond jewellers who are much, much more powerful than her. Meanwhile, Diamond-dealer twins Jake and Danny are also carving out a slice of the pie for themselves in the diamond industry. When Brogan O'Donnell, a powerful diamond seller himself starts to get annoyed with Scarlett's moral stance which is putting him in a bad light things take a turn for the worse. Danny and Jake have also come into Brogan's radar and all three of them enter into a dangerous game ... who will survive such a ruthless diamond world?
Firstly, let me explain a little about the characters. From the beginning, Danny and Jake, twins from London are the appealing and most likeable characters in the book. Good looking in a rough and ready sort of way, they have charm in the bucket loads and are unafraid to go after what they really want in life. Despite questionable morals, I instantly found the pair of them appealing, Bagshawe having created two characters that are far from goody-two shoes but clearly have good hearts and have a vulnerability about them that is just waiting to be explored. I saw that in her sister, Louise Bagshawe's book, "Passion", that she had created a strong central male character, and it seems that Tilly has taken a leaf out of her sisters book and done the same - times two! This has worked really well - too well at times as it I felt it was at the detriment of the other main female characters in the book.
Firstly there is Scarlett. Despite her innate goodness (or perhaps because of it) I found that this character was highly irritating at times. However, perseverance is the key to most of the characters in this book, and once again Scarlett's character was built on well. She still didn't have the appeal of Danny and Jake, and often I found myself finding her constant need to be right along with her often bad decision making an annoying part of the story as a whole. Bagshawe does try and pull this back slightly by creating a family for Scarlett that does evoke some sympathy for her, but I didn't feel that it was enough for me to really get behind the character completely. Only by the link up of Scarlett and the twins did I really will her on.
Plot wise, I'm sure most people who are even remotely familiar with this author or with any similar books in this genre will recognise it is not about to set the book world alight with its new and original ideas. Of course, the story is pretty predictable, the characters very very close to those written about before and the endings are always inevitable - but I guess the journey of them getting there is still exciting to me. The appeal once again for this book is the glamour of it all. Despite the sameness of the story, Bagshawe does inject some new things into this story; for one, it seems the diamond industry has been well researched, and there are some touching chapters about mining conditions and blood diamonds that make for more interesting - and less superficial - reading. Ultimately, it's the easy, light and pacey way the book is written that makes it so readable. The Bagshawe sisters have a creative imagination when it comes to describing locations, clothes and more intimate moments (ahem) which makes for addictive reading. I read it because it's trashy, I read it because it's full of glamour and sex and, damn it, I read it because I like to give my brain a break! I know the characters inside out and I know that I'm going to get a good and satisfying ending!
Once again Tilly Bagshawe has come up with a gem (geddit?) of a book that is a perfect beach read; pacy, suspenseful with a fast moving plot. If you are after some truly escapist reading, any number of the Bagshawe books would do it for you, and definitely this one is in that list.
When I spotted this on the shelf at my local library, I was initially drawn in by the purple/pink/blue colour scheme. A closer inspection of the cover revealed that it was written by Tilly Bagshawe, which rang a bell. I knew that I'd read books by her sister Louise, but couldn't quite place where I knew her name from. In the inside, I discovered that she'd written 'Adored', which I read and reviewed quite a while back now and that sold it to me.
The main character is Scarlett, an ex-model who has since turned her hand to designing high-end jewellery, mainly working with diamonds. She is a compassionate individual and is deeply moved by the plight of the Russian workers who are employed in US tycoon Brogan o'Donnell's mines in the Siberia region. She is heavily involved in highlighting the health issues (namely lung cancer) that are being faced by these workers, but in the process, she's attracting the wrong kind of attention from some heavy-hitters in the diamond industry. How far will they go to derail Scarlett's humanitarian mission?
Alongside this, Jake and Danny have been running a fairly successful diamond-dealing business, palming off their often overpriced and not always legit diamonds to rich and bored housewives with more money than sense. When they too make enemies of the wrong people in the industry, they begin to suffer the consequences. How far will Brogan go to protect both his personal and business interests?
The book is written in the third person and tells the story for the viewpoint of various characters. In the beginning, this is largely confined to Scarlett, Jake and Danny but in time it extends to other characters such as Brogan, Brogan's wife Diana, Brogan's assistant Aiden and Scarlett's brother Cameron. This helps to fill in the gaps that other characters aren't aware of, so that we know more than they do. I enjoyed the way that the various commentaries interplayed with one another to provide an almost seamless commentary. There would often be several weeks or months between the commentaries of particular characters, but the events in the middle are often filled in by other characters during their commentaries so it didn't feel as though I was missing anything.
The writing style itself isn't difficult to read or overly complicated, but it's a bit 'meatier' than your average chick lit book. If you've read the author's 'Adored' novel, it's a similar writing style to that and not a million miles away from the likes of 'Glitz' by her sister, Louise Bagshawe.
As I imagine would probably be the case in real life in such an industry, there are some unsavoury characters in the book. Brogan himself seems pure evil for the vast majority of the book and I'm not sure whether his attitude at the end of the book is fuelled predominantly by events that happen to him (to possibly change his viewpoint) or not but his character is in strong contrast to the relentless do-good personality of Scarlett. Jake and Danny are also far from squeaky clean although they do seem to have their hearts in the right places despite their unscrupulous dealing practices.
To break up the action in the diamond world, the story shifts from time to time to the family estate of Scarlett's family in Scotland. For me, Scarlett's mother was an intensely irritating character but fortunately she didn't feature at all that much in the grand scheme of things. The shift is often a welcome change of both scene and pace.
There are plenty of twists and turns in the plot, particularly towards the end and this is largely what compelled me to keep picking up the book again. Although it's a hardbook (or my copy was, at least!) and quite a long read, I was really keen to see things would pan out. It's credit to Tilly Bagshawe's great characterisation that I was so involved in the characters -especially Scarlett - and what would become of them.
Lastly, I'm going to highlight the author's research for the book. I know absolutely nothing about diamonds or how the diamond industry works on any level, but it's clear that she's done some serious homework on the subject. The stones that Scarlett uses in her designs and that Jake and Danny deal are discussed with some authority, and the ins and outs of the situation at the mines are also impressively handled. There was no point at which I felt like the author was bluffing or running out of steam so it's another credit to her that she managed to sustain such a lengthy fictional book on the diamond industry when it's unlikely to be one of her specialist subjects.
Scarlett Drummond Murray is an ex-model turned jewellery designer and is doing well for herself in London. But when Scarlett starts getting involved with her campaign Trade Fair to get people to take note of bad treatment of diamond miners, things start to become sinister for Scarlett. Diamond mogul Brogan O'Donnell isn't happy his mines are being bad-mouthed and sets out for revenge. London twins and diamond dealers Jake and Danny Meyer are also caught up in the corrupt world, and their lives are taking turns they didn't quite expect along the way. Who will come out on top in the ruthless diamond world?
I first came across Tilly Bagshawe when I read her previous novel Do Not Disturb, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So when the chance came to read this, I jumped at it and I'm glad I did. It certainly lived up to Tilly's other works, and for me is perhaps her best yet. This book is set in the diamond world, travelling from London to LA to Scotland and back again. Bagshawe has clearly done her research because the book is packed with facts and information about diamonds, the diamond world and all that is involved with it.
Bagshawe has chosen to tell her story through quite a few characters, and I felt that this really worked for this book. She uses a third person narration which helps the story to be told fluently and seamlessly which is crucial when telling a story using multiple viewpoints. Scarlett is the lead character, and all other threads of the story inevitably lead back to her which keeps the story tight and together. She's a strong, independent business woman who is distancing herself from the family estate up in Scotland, but also getting into trouble through her Trade Fair work. The twists and turns kept me really interested in the book, but I also liked Scarlett as a character too. Bagshawe likes her strong female leads, and Scarlett is definitely no different.
Bagshawe puts a big of light-hearted relief in the form of cockney Jewish twins Jake and Danny Meyer. They don't care how they come by their diamonds, and sell them at extortionate prices, often enjoying a little something extra from the rich women of Hollywood. I really liked these characters even though they are both cads, and the banter Jake had with Scarlett was amusing, although I could see right through it at times! The other main characters are Brogan and Diana O'Donnell. Brogan is a diamond dealer, and has mines in Russia which are becoming controversial thanks to Scarlett's Trade Fair campaign. He vows revenge and he's the baddy of the book, willing to stoop to real lows to get his way. As a character he was well written, and sat well in contrast to goody-goody Scarlett in the story.
Although the characters were great, this isn't what made the book so good for me. Bagshawe really has done her research when it comes to diamonds, diamond mines and all things to do with the industry. She talks convincingly of conditions in the mines, the different stones and ways they are set into jewellery and the competitive jewellery world. This sort of writing allows a reader to grasp the world they are reading about, and makes it far more enjoyable because you understand the subject. Bagshawe doesn't shy away from the seedy side of it either, the rich dealers selling to the rich Hollywood wives and what goes on at these sales, but it just makes the book a bit more exciting and fun to read! There are quite a few sex scenes in the book, but they don't seem gratuitous or out of place.
I do recommend this book because it's such a fun yet interesting read. Bagshawe has a talent for creating a world for her readers that allow you to totally lose yourself in, and characters that lead the story well and that you actually like! The diamond world was fascinating reading, and the book is very glamorous throughout, just like its world. The book is long and seems to go on forever (although not in a bad way) but wraps up well with a satisfactory if quick conclusion. I found myself wanting to pick it up eagerly in the evenings and was loath to put it down, so that says something for the book! It's highly recommended from me, and a really fun and intriguing read.
ISBN: 978-1409100997. Published by Orion in May 2009. The paperback contains 400 pages with an RRP of £9.99.
Thank you for reading.