* Prices may differ from that shown
For a long time, I have really enjoyed books by both Bagshawe sisters but Louise Bagshawe's stories really do have the power to keep me captivated through to the end. Once I have read the story and if it's a while since I've read one, then I strangely find myself reluctant to pick up another, as I always imagine that It was a bit of a fluke that I like her books; that really the next one will be poor and I will have wasted my time.
For this reason, "Passion" has sat on my bookshelf for a couple of months now ( a long time in my world where If I have a book that is unread, it doesn't take me long before I've picked it up and devoured it!) and once again, I cannot for the life of me think why I left it so long as once again, I enjoyed every word of it.
For those not initiated, Louise Bagshawe's books are like the crème de la crème of that horrid term "chick lit" - I usually cannot stand the sappy girl next door type and rarely read these, but Bagshawe's heroines are all these sappy girls but times ten - prettier, brainier and most of all, ballsy. She takes the general romantic storylines of those normal generic chick lit books, mixes it with a bit of sex and spice from writers such as Jackie Collins, and adds a modern twist.
This book is no different, although Bagshawe has made a departure slightly from the usual storylines and has taken the reader to a more dangerous situation, and not only that, there is a strong male lead as well in this book which makes a refreshing change.
Will Hyde and Melissa Elmett were too young to marry so young, so it was no surprise when the marriage ended, Melissa breaking Wills heart. Little surprise then that Will channelled that anger and hurt into carving a very successful career for himself and is now world famous and crazily rich - and with a beautiful fiancé in tow.
In contrast, Melissa is stuck as a professor at Oxford with a fiancé that she doesn't love - as her only passion has always been Will and she still regrets the day she chose her family and their snobbishness over her one true love.
Neither of them expect to see each other again, but years later, Wills training saves Melissa's life when he realises she is a target in an assassination plot that is trying to cover up something that Melissa's father had discovered.
Soon they are on the run - will they survive and will their passion for each other ignite?
So as you can see from the book summary, this story has all the elements to make it a racy, exciting and romantic book, and as always, I feel that Bagshawe has delivered. At first, I worried if she would be able to pull such a story off, especially when I realised that unlike the rest of her books where the woman is usually slightly downtrodden but ultimately successful and determined, this one was about a man who was already successful whilst the woman that was left behind was poor and unhappy. Luckily, both characters are developed fully and my opinion of Melissa especially, changed within the first quarter of the book.
At first, I wasn't really inspired by her; portrayed as a poor and "mousy" teacher, she didn't seem to have any spark at all and even when Will contacts her to warn her, I was almost disappointed by her lack of personality. However, this was a good set up for the character and only served to depict how downtrodden she had become and how, buried for all this time, she is a feisty and intelligent character that could give Will a run for his money.
Like all of Bagshawe's men, Will is a man that epitomises the ideal man for most readers; attractive, smart, successful, romantic, strong, rich...yes of course you have to suspend belief and as the story takes off in a completely unbelievable tale, it only gets worse, but these books are just pure escapism, and who better to escape with than a character as charming, sexy and strong as Will Hyde? He isn't without flaws, arrogance being one of them, but this doesn't last long - just long enough to make me feel like this man could be real after all!
What you can also guarantee in Bagshawe's books is that there is a nemesis that the protagonist is usually trying to beat throughout life and usually it is someone that the character has met and has had a fight etc with. In "Passion", the enemy is in actual fact someone that neither Will nor Melissa has had with contact with before. Going along with the change of tact in her storyline, Bagshawe has created an interesting enemy in the form of a icy, cold hearted hit woman.
Lola was an interesting character for me, she was always someone to despise but also there were times when I almost felt sorry for her. Although not as interesting as the main characters and obviously not the main focus, I did enjoy reading her sections of the book, how feisty she was, how determined but also how cold and calculating she could be. I loved the way Bagshawe built her up to be this ice queen but after a while there was a chink in her armour which made her really compelling.
Writing and Storyline...
Bagshawe has a way with words like no other, and I don't really mean that her writing is powerful or anything like that its just that she can tell a good story and knows how to make it interesting, captivating and un-put-downable. Her writing is direct and to the point but becomes fanciful when discussing the riches of the characters themselves. I love reading about what the characters are wearing, rich surroundings of hotel rooms and the appearance of the characters . She manages to go into delicious detail of these materialistic things and these descriptions can really be quite beautiful.
As it stands as a book, her strength is in her direct way of telling a story, at no point did the story drag, did I tire of a character or want to skip a scene, all of the story is written carefully with the ideal reader in mind, and the book was finished within days of reading it.
It's been described as "James Bond" for girls, and I can kind of see where that idea has come from; there is that chase, Will has a past as a spy and the characters are constantly trying to stay on top of the "baddies". This book does try to give another dimension to the traditional romantic storyline that appears in every book in this genre, and although it is obviously not going to live up to the thriller and action packed books that make their money from this kind of storyline, I still think she successfully gives this a damn good try and it does add a little extra bit of excitement to the story!
I hadn't read a Louise Bagshawe book for a few years when I was given Passion by my best mate. I started reading Louise Bagshawe books when I was in my early twenties as they were a bit raunchy! My best mate really raved over this book, so I couldn't wait to get started on this book. I was a bit apprehensive when I saw how thick the book was, with 530 pages. Unless a book is impossible to put down, I struggle to get through a book a week at the moment with my little man running me ragged. I need not have worried - from the moment I started reading passion I knew it would be a book I'd struggle to put down!
Will Hyde and professor's daughter Melissa Elmet were childhood sweethearts at Oxford university. The Elmet's never believed that orphan Will was good enough for Melissa, and forces her to annul their marriage breaking Will's heart in the process. Will flees from Oxford and joins the army, before being recruited by MI6.
Now over a decade has passed - Will is a millionaire banker living in New York with a model girlfriend, while Melissa is a professor at Oxford barely scraping by. When there are four high society murders all linked to a project Melissa's father was working on, Will suspects Melissa will be the next target, but will put it all on the line for the girl who broke his heart.....
Melissa is not a typical heroine for a Louise Bagshawe book - she is studious, almost frumpy and on the verge of becoming a spinster. However underneath she is very gutsy and likeable, and you really see her character develop as the story progresses. She does seem to take a bit of a back seat to Will, who really is the star of the book. It makes a change to have a man as the lead character of a chick lit book who is not a single dad, or love torn. Will is every girls dream, well mine anyway, as he is rugged, handsome, tough, a bit complex and loaded - what girl wouldn't want to be rescued by him!! I also liked the character of Lola, the assassin - she was well written and a contrasting hard to Melissa's softness. Most chick lit books have a bad guy or girl, but Lola takes bad to the next level....
Passion is billed as James bond for girls, and that is an accurate description! I wouldn't be surprised if this was made into a film. The narrative is in the third person, and Louise Bagshawe's descriptive style of writing means I could see the story unfolding in my head - a sure sign of a good book for me. It takes you on a rollercoaster ride from start to finish, and although it is not as saucy as some of her earlier novels, that really doesn't matter. The book is packed with intrigue, murder and of course passion, and despite being quite a thick book I couldn't put it down, and cracked through it in 2 evenings. This book makes a refreshing change to the romantic chick lit I have been reading lately, and I would recommend it to anyone! Definitely the best book I have read for a while!
Paperback 530 pages by Headline Review. £4.44 on Amazon.co.uk
Melissa Elmet and William Hyde fell madly in love when they were teenagers and end up marrying in secret. However Melissa's family get involved and the marriage ends up being annulled and the pair never see each other again. Melissa now lives the life of an academic whereas Will is now a billionaire. Their worlds are incredibly far apart but they're thrown back together when Will, an ex-MI6 agent, notices a link between recent killings and fears Melissa is next. The pair end up on the run as Lola, a beautiful female assassin, chases them all over the world in hot pursuit.
Louise Bagshawe is an incredibly talented writer and I loved Sparkles when I read it a few years ago. Her books have always been quite complex but as her writing has developed her books have gotten more and more complex and Passion is, undoubtedly, her most complex yet. The book is billed as James Bond for girls and that's an accurate description.
Passion begins by introducing us to Dimitri who has hired Lola, an assassin, to take out four people. It's a very intriguing start to the book. We then go back to the past and see how Melissa and Will first met and fell in love before, ultimately, ending up being separated. We then come back to the present and see how the heartbreak has affected both Melissa and Will. The difference between the two is apparant and quite surprising: Melissa is now a shy, academic whereas Will is now a billionaire banker. The killings start quite quickly and after many years apart Will and Melissa are now thrown back together again, on the run from a very determined assassin.
As Melissa and Will try to outwit Lola the chase is indeed on. The book takes in many places around the world as they all try to find or outwit each other and the book is incredibly fast paced. The plot is ultimately the chase between Melissa, Will and Lola and it goes on throughout the book, pretty much from the first page until the last. Will being an ex-MI6 agent provides an extra twist to the book because it means he knows what Lola is trying to do so he can try and outwit her that way. Both Will and Lola are incredibly clever which makes for compulsive reading. Of course it wouldn't be a Bagshawe book without romance and Will and Melissa fight their feelings for each other throughout the book.
The characters are all well-thought out and I liked seeing Melissa change from a shy, retiring academic into someone thinking like an assassin as she learns what it's like trying to evade Lola and being constantly on the run and fearing for your life. At first Melissa didn't seem to be a very strong character but as her life was threatened she became stronger as the book progressed. Will was a fantastic lead male character; yes he's an ex-MI6 agent but I could tell he really cared for Melissa and only wanted the best for her. He may have done a lot of bad things when he was part of the MI6 but after leaving that life, it was like it was a part of him he put away. He didn't forget about it but that was a part of life he felt he needed to do and when he was done, he was done. I actually liked Lola, which surprised me, as she's hardly likeable. But the thing is she knew what her targets were and went after them like a woman possessed. She was incredibly fierce and hugely determined and I liked that in her. Melissa, Will and Lola are the three main characters but there are lots more behind the scenes who have orchestrated the whole thing.
Passion is told in the third person and flicks from Melissa's point of view, Will's point of view and Lola's point of view as well as those involved in the bigger picture. I found it very easy to keep up with all of the changes of view and I loved switching from one character to the next. I wasn't a huge fan of those involved in the bigger picture - those people who were the reasons Lola is chasing Melissa - but it helped make a rounder picture of the whole story. The reasons why Lola is chasing Melissa are quite complicated but Bagshawe explains it all well, and I did eventually make sense of it all. It was a very clever plot and I thought the chasing between the three main characters was very compulsive. Because it was told in the third person we could see just how close/far Lola was from Melissa and Will and I had no idea how the book was going to end.
The book is a huge blockbuster of a book. My trade paperback has 472 pages but the fun never stops so the pages just whizz by. I started it this morning and didn't expect to finish it as I saw how large it was. I whizzed through it though and ended up rushing head-first towards the end. It was a hugely satisfying read and I can't wait for Louise's next book as she's a fantastic storyteller.