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As some of you who read my reviews regularly will know I belong to a Book Club and every month one of the members selects a book for us to read. We usually try to pick something that will provide a good discussion. A new member thought that we had read too many "deep" books and it was time to go for something light which is how I ended up reading Jackie Collins Married Lovers. Way back in the early 80s, whilst still a teenager I enjoyed reading things like Lace by Shirley Conran and Riders by Jilly Cooper and had always assumed Jackie Collins books followed in a similar fashion although I had never read any. I feel that my tastes in books has changed rather a lot over the last 25 years or so and I did not particularly relish having to read this one but I decided to try not to be prejudiced and to give it a fair go.
My paperback version arrived with a plain turquoise cover and the title and authors names in silver with a simple pair of rings on the front. The tag-line was "Love, Honour...and Disobey".
Anya is an exceptionally beautiful child born in the Eastern Block. Tragic events in her life lead her to degrading work in the sex trade and she dreams of finding a way out.
On the other side of the world the rich and famous of the Hollywood set are enjoying their luxurious life-styles. Cameron Paradise may not be rich and famous but she is gorgeous and ambitious and her talents as a remarkable personal trainer allow her to infiltrate the showbiz world. With her amazing body, striking looks and cunning head for business she appears to be able to have her pick of men and to be able to look forward to a glitzy lifestyle. However she has hidden secrets in her past as well as a yearning for something she can't have so everything is not quite how it seems.
Don Verona is a gorgeous Chat show host who gets through more women than his film-director friend Ryan can count. Mandy is Ryan's demanding and selfish wife who feels that the world should bow down to her due to her father's film connections. Lucy is a fading film star who wants to rekindle her career whilst her husband Phil prefers his wife to stay at home with her children whilst he gets out and about, sowing his wild oats.
The story centres around the interactions between all of these characters. As I expected the action all takes place in the glamorous areas of Los Angeles and the people are all extremely beautiful, tanned and mostly undeniably wealthy.
I expected to find this a cheery romp through a millionaire's paradise with a bit of sex and betrayal thrown in for good measure. If I am going to read trash then I want it to be good fun and a real bit of escapism from the grotty winter weather and the permanently gloomy stories on the news about the economy. I want to immerse myself in a world of nice clothes, stunning people, fantasy lifestyles and a bit of raunchy sex too. I wasn't expecting a great literary masterpiece but I did think that Jackie Collins would deliver the sort of story I was expecting.
Unfortunately I found Married Lovers didn't really tick all of the boxes. The basic storyline of who is sleeping with whom, who is plotting against whom and who will turn out victorious was quite straightforward. There were no unexpected twists and the story was easy to read. However throughout the book we kept coming back to Anya. It didn't take me too long to work out where her story was going but it was nasty and cruel and contained details that I really didn't want to read about. We all appreciate there is evil in the world and there are many books that deal with these sort of issues well but they just didn't seem to have a place in this book. I am sure the author was trying to show the contrast between the "haves" and "have nots" but it was very jarring and detracted from my enjoyment of the simple story.
The characters were not particularly well developed but this did not particularly distract from the story as I think most people involved in the movie business are self-centred and this was how the majority of the characters were portrayed. The nice guy, Ryan, was explored more thoroughly which was nice but, if anything, which made his faithful marriage to the petulant Mandy seem even more unlikely.
I did expect this book to have a few raunchy scenes as that is what I though Jackie Collins was supposed to excel at. I must say I was disappointed. The few sexual scenes in the book were poorly written and weren't the least bit exciting to read. She didn't manage to create any atmosphere and it all seemed very perfunctory. If I am reading a sex scene in a book I want to get caught up in the moment rather than thinking it reads like a shopping list of places that you can do it!
It did not take me very long to finish this book even though it has over 400 pages as it is basically an easy read. I thought I would be recommending this as a good holiday read but unfortunately the Anya thread made it unpleasant in parts and meant that it didn't allow complete immersion in a nice fantasy. I am sure Jackie Collins fans will love it but I imagine some of her other books are probably more fun to read if you really feel that you would like to give one a try.