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This is the first of Tasmina's Perry's books that I have read and, for what it is - total escapism - I really enjoyed it. It was a non-taxing and easy read - sort of a chicklit and thriller fusion.
The story follows Sophie Ellis who, having had a pampered childhood, finds herself suddenly in total following the death of her beloved father, who has made a disastrous investment. Sophie falls into being a personal trainer to pay the bills and when she is asked to house sit for one of her clients, the scene is set for her to meet Nick, fall in love and for the plot to get more complicated. Nick is murdered (this is not a spoiler as it's in the blurb on the cover)and Sophie finds herself both suspect and quarry for some gun toting Russians who think that she has something they want. With a chase across the world, in the company of Josh, the only friend of Nick she knows, there are plenty of twists and turns and love interests aplenty to keep the story fast-paced, interesting and also deliciously fantastical.
High literature this is not - but for a bit of glamour, intrigue and as a plain old page turner, this is a pretty good read. There was absolutely no requirement at all to think about this book, beyond having to suspend disbelief a tad. Whilst reading I probably empathised more with journalist Ruth Boden, a side character, rather than with Sophie the main character who was a bit silly, and towards the end I was impatient for the different threads of the plot to pull together but overall I really liked this book for what it was, a way to spend a few hours in a different, if unlikely world. This would be perfect for reading by the pool or killing a plane journey assuming you are not looking for anything too intellectual and don't mind being diverted by the fantastical. A trashy book - in a good way.
Currently £6.99 on amazon - I read a review copy
Just an innocent invitation... When Sophie Ellis is asked to house-sit at a luxurious Knightsbridge townhouse, it appears to be the offer of a lifetime. Drawn into the glittering circle of the home's owner, she meets wealthy American businessman Nick Cooper and is swept up into a thrilling and passionate affair. But when Nick is found dead in his hotel suite, Sophie is suddenly the prime suspect for his murder, and soon realises Nick was not the man he seemed. Racing to find the truth and clear her name, Sophie must elude not only the authorities but also a group of dangerous players who believe Sophie has something that they want. And who won't stop until she's caught...
For some reason, I never used to read Tasmina Perry's novels, but when I read her 2010 release Private Lives I was hooked, and have loved all 3 books of her I have read since then. I was so excited to receive an ARC of Perfect Strangers. As usual, it's a rather long book at nearly 600 pages (well my ARC was anyway), but I find that with Perry, every page counts and I couldn't wait to get stuck in. The cover for the book is absolutely gorgeous, a perfect summer scene that will make you want to grab a copy off the shelf, but doesn't actually hint at the amazing, exciting and thrilling read that lies between the pages! I wasn't expecting the story I got with this book, but I loved all of it and really couldn't put it down, you'll be dying to see how it's going to end!
Sophie Ellis' life has come crashing down around her lately, and she doesn't know where to turn. Her beloved father recently died from a heart attack, leaving her and her mother in dire financial straits, and with nowhere to turn, Sophie accepts the offer from a rich client to house-sit in Knightsbridge for a few weeks. There, she meets American businessman Nick and the pair embark on a passionate relationship which ends abruptly when she finds Nick dead in their bathroom. With Sophie convinced the police are on her tail for murder, and a gang of gun-toting Russians following her every move, Sophie has no alternative but to go on the run with a new found friend, and hope that they together can find out the truth before Sophie pays the price with her life.
As you can see, this isn't your usual chick lit novel, sounding more like a thriller from the synopsis. It begins simply enough, with Sophie trying to get her life back on track but as soon as she finds Nick dead, the book takes a big turn and the chase is on. I absolutely loved this part of the book, and thought it was so well done that you can't help but be absorbed into the tale. I felt so sorry for Sophie, she is just a girl caught at the wrong place at the wrong time (in her eyes) and is scared witless when Russian gangsters start shooting at her, as we all rightfully would! Perry writes these scenes so realistically, she draws you straight into the action and moves it along at such a fast pace you feel like you're in the middle of the scene with Sophie and Josh. What makes it better for me was that Perry chose to write in the third person, so although it's written from Sophie's story, we have the benefit of not being in her mind as such, and it makes it very exciting.
The characters in this book were brilliant and for me, they made it even better. I really liked Sophie from the beginning, she's likeable and realistic, and reacts to her situation exactly as I think I would, scared and trusting of someone who seems to know what they are doing - Josh. The pair have great chemistry, and I really loved the "will they, won't they" aspect of their relationship. Josh was brilliant, there were so many layers to him and all the way through I wasn't sure if I could trust him or not. The other excellent character is Ruth, a journalist based in London who has caught onto Nick's murder and wants the exclusive, whatever the cost. Perry writes this character with such ease, showing how journo's work with the Police to get their information in a variety of ways, and I was shocked and loving Ruth's work along the way! A great cast work so well for this plot, and Perry makes the plot perfect for the people she's put within it.
The excitement of this book is fantastic, and never lulls. It travels from London to Europe, and finally over to America, so there's always something going on. Perry writes beautiful about the places the characters visit, from the rural areas to the hotels, both good and bad, and you really feel like you're in these places along with Sophie and Josh. The pace never slows down, and I loved how you couldn't guess where it was going, the Russians suddenly pop up and the action goes into over-drive once more. I was completely hooked by this book, and couldn't put it down until I found out if Sophie and Josh would be okay, what happened next and just who murdered Nick! We're strung along all the way and I have to say I loved that I couldn't guess the ending, it made it even better! I can't recommend this book highly enough, it's definitely my favourite Tasmina Perry novel to date, and it's a must-read for the summer!
ISBN: 978-0755358489. Published by Headline Review on 19th July 2012. RRP: £12.99 for the hardback. Also available as an eBook.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitchloe.blogspot.com
Thank you for reading.