Maddie works as broadcast assistant for Radio Brum. She's happily married with two kids but hates the way she looks. When she goes to the supermarket, she fills her trolley high with fruit and vegetables, just so she can surprise all those rude people who gaze into it expecting to see a mountain of unhealthy food. (She orders her crisps and chocolates secretly online!) After a series of humiliations at work, at the gym and in the mums' race at school sports day, Maddie reluctantly enrols at Fat Busters, a local diet club. There she meets Jess, a beauty therapist with a poor self-image. Jess is looking forward to marrying Charlie, although he has made it clear he doesn't want a fat bride. Are visions of wearing the perfect wedding dress going to be sufficient to stop Jess craving cheesecake? Then there is Lauren, a divorcee who runs a dating agency but has grown cynical about romance and seems content to live at home with her cat, Eddie. But is she as blasé and independent as she seems? This book is about the friendship that blossoms between the three women and the way they inspire each other not only to reach their diet goals but to change their lives in other respects.
The story is narrated by Maddie, Jess and Lauren. Their accounts alternate between chapters. This works very well as it means that the reader learns a lot about what makes each of the three main characters tick. It also has the advantage of showing how the public face presented by each character is at odds with their private thoughts. This writing style helps to build dramatic irony because, as the girls give their different accounts, we realise that they have people and places in common that they aren't yet aware of, so their lives start to overlap, which is rather intriguing and keeps you turning the pages. The characters are clearly defined so, despite the narrative skipping from one person to the other, I never got confused about who was who. Sometimes in books where there is more than one narrator the characters can seem a bit interchangeable, but the author has managed to preserve the individuality of Maddie, Jess and Lauren. They may be three overweight girls who join the same diet club, but their lives and personalities are different.
It's a perceptive book, which will strike a chord with anyone who has ever had self-esteem problems. I felt the author dealt sensitively with the link between eating disorders and emotional voids, described by one character as "an emptiness inside me that never seemed to be filled, no matter how much food I stuffed myself with." The importance of doing something for yourself and not because of pressure from others is explored, but the book also shows how difficult it is to maintain a sense of 'self' when your life revolves around other people, all of whom depend on you and/or matter to you. What I enjoyed about the book is seeing how the women developed as characters and started to grow in confidence. It is certainly inspiring and sends out a positive message that once you start taking control in one area of your life, you can do so in another. There are some lovely comic moments in the book. I particularly enjoyed Maddie's crushing gym session when her mum enrols her for the Couch Potato Course and she meets the personal trainer from hell, a "spotty adolescent thug" who tells her she is morbidly obese. I really felt for poor Maddie, being measured with big surgical tweezers which pinch the various parts of her body, with all the svelte, lycra-clad individuals looking on. Maddie's relationship with her mother, a glamorous ex Martini Girl, was well-observed and believable and I also enjoyed the scenes at Brum FM with Maddie's bossy colleague, Collette McMahon, "the meanest bitch in the country." I probably identified most with Maddie, being a wife and mum, but I liked all the characters and felt a particular fondness for Jess, who seemed so sweet and lovely, deserving so much more than a controlling relationship. I just wanted to give her a big hug. It's one of those books where, no matter how many real friends you have in your life, you can't help thinking - "I wish I had a friend like that", which is a testament to Lucy Diamond's ability to create characters you care about. You will be rooting for them all the way through.
One of the things I didn't like was that at times this book read a bit like a self-help guide for dieters. In particular, the scenes at Fat Busters when the course leader gives a pep talk got a bit dull as they referred to tips I'd read countless times before in women's magazines. I found it hard to focus and it reminded me of the many times I have sat in the office at work and had to listen to colleagues going on and on about the number of calories in a Weight Watchers lasagne. I just wanted to get back to the more interesting things that were happening in the lives of the key characters. It was a bit slow moving at times. At 400 pages, it could have been a lot shorter without losing anything from the plot, if some of the more long-winded passages had been removed. I also felt that, whilst the main characters were well-defined, some of the other characters, such as Maddie's husband and Lauren's gay work colleague, were a bit wooden. There are a few stereotypes there. A lot of the thin attractive people referred to are bitchy or unpleasant, whereas the 'larger' people tend to be portrayed as warm, generous people with great personalities. The plot is not entirely unpredictable either.
Would I recommend it?
I'm not a big fan of chick lit, but there are times when a light, easy read is called for. That's where books like Sweet Temptation come into their own. It's certainly not the most gripping novel I've ever read, but it's enjoyable and heart-warming, dealing with real-life situations that are mainly not beyond the bounds of credibility. I hope there's a sequel because the three main characters are very likeable and it would be fun to see what happened to them in the future. For a lazy beach read, this is probably worth a go. If you're on a diet, it might just give you an extra burst of encouragement. You can buy it from Amazon new in paperback for £4.87. The Kindle version is currently £3.87.
Those of you who know me will know that I love my books, especially chick-lit ones. I have been doing lots of reading lately - nothing beats sitting in the garden with a good book and the sun shining! Today, I will be reviewing one of my latest reads.
Sweet Temptation is a chick-lit book by Lucy Diamond. The book was released in the United Kingdom in 2010 and so is quite recent.The book is currently available for sale from Amazon for just £0.99 which I think is fantastic value for money.
Plot: Poor old Maddie! Everyone's got it in for her; her boss humiliates her live on the radio, her mum is telling her to lose weight, and her kids are embarressed to be seen with her especially after what she did at their school sports day. Desperate, she joins a weight-loss group, expecting more embarressment and humiliation to come, although she is pleasantly suprised. What will happen? Read Sweet Temptation to find out!
I hadn't heard of Lucy Diamond before and so wasn't sure what to expect. I was pleasantly suprised
I thought it was interesting how each chapter focused on a different woman. This not only kept the story interesting but also the reader interested. To begin with I did have to think hard about which character was who, although after a while it got easier.
I liked the characters in this book. To begin with Maddie was my favourite character as I felt sorry for her and thought that she was easy to relate to. Although, once I had got to know the rest of the characters (Lauren and Jess), I grew to like them all and so didn't end up having a favourite.
I was really suprised by how easy-to-relate to this book is. The book's main focus is on how body-image affects people's confidence and how they are 'seen' by other people. This, I think is something all women can relate to.
Despite the book focusing on real-life situation, the book itself is quite a light-hearted read. It is a very easy-to read kind of book which means that it is a great book for reading by the beach or pool, as it doesn't require much thinking.
If you like chick-lit books which are real to life then I would definetely recommend this book to you!
Thanks for reading!
xd-o-n-z-x (also posted under xdonzx on ciao)
This is my first Lucy Diamond book in which I have read, so I cannot compare with her other book but what I can tell you is I WILL be reading her other books soon if this one is anything to go by. I popped to the library this morning and saw this book in the new section. It looked like your typical pink girlie chick-lit easy read which is just the kind of book I wanted for my first day off in the sun this year. And yes I have spent all day reading it and have finished much to my disappointment!
There are three main characters in this book who all come together after chapter 8. Each Chapter is told from one of the girl's point of views.
We first meet Maddie who is a married mum of two, over weight and works for a radio station. Her problem is her horrible boss does nothing but put Maddie down and is rude and spiteful to her. It is during one of the radio broadcast that Maddies's boss lets the nation know that Maddie is going to be "fighting the flab" which is the first Maddie has heard of this, just another dig at poor Maddie but an almighty blow. It is when she attends Fatbusters that we meet the other two main characters Jess and Lauren.
Jess is a beauty therapist who again is overweight. She is engaged to Charlie but Charlie has put the wedding off for a while as he wants Jess to lose weight. Charlie does nothing but make Jess fell low about herself she feels fat and ugly. This doesn't help when Jess also gets the same reaction from her temporary boss at work, who is constantly on her case about how her appearance is not professional. Jess decides she will have to do something about the weight and joins Fatbusters.
Lauren works for a dating agency lonely hearts. She has recently split from her husband who had an affair with her work colleague, so Lauren is very bitter about love. Since splitting from her husband Lauren has gradually put more and more weight on and feels it is time she finally done something about it in attempt to find new love.
The relationship between the girls comes across they are all after the same result and they all try to help each other through this time but different and difficult events happen in each of their lives which could jeopardise there weight loss success.
Nearly every woman has at some stage decided they need to lose weight I can hold my hand up high to that statement and you usually feel so alone so to watch the connection the girls have in this book you can see what a support it can be. All three of the girls are your usual average kind of girl so you can relate to the story. None of the storyline is too far fetched so you almost feel as if you are reading about their real lives.
The only thing I didn't like in this book is the character Charlie but we are not meant to like him as a person anyway. He is not a nice character in anyway and you just hope the whole way through that Jess will find the confidence in herself to walk away and go it alone. He is such a vile man.
I would highly recommend this book and I cannot wait to read her other books I just hope they are as good as this one. The book has a good mixture of humour , love and relationship, in some places quite sad parts. This book really has helped me get the focus to try harder on my diet although now I want a Pandora bracelet!!!! (you will understand once you have read the book!!!)
Overall this is a thoroughly enjoyable read as you can tell as I read it in a day, I really could not put it down.
Maddie Lawson isn't having a great time - her new boss Colette has humiliated her live on air with her new feature "Making Brum Beautiful" and has enlisted Maddie to join a Fatbusters club. Added to that, Maddie will also have to go live on air to discuss her ongoing weight loss. Maddie's mum and children also get involved and after a disastrous Spots Day Race, Maddie realises something has to change. Colette may not have her best interests at heart but it could end up helping Maddie after all. At the first Fatbusters meeting, Maddie meets two other new girls: Lauren, who runs a dating website but has given up on love herself, and Jess, a beautician desperate to fit into a size 10 wedding dress for her wedding day. Can Maddie get her own back on Colette and use the Fatbusters class to her advantage? And what about the other two girls, can they make their own dreams come true, too?
I'm a huge fan of Lucy Diamond's books. I managed to pick up her second novel Over You a couple of years ago for a euro which I thought was well worth picking up and I found that I really really enjoyed it once I'd read it. I was then offered a chance to read her third book Hens Reunited back when I first started the blog and I eagerly jumped at the chance and I enjoyed that just as much. So imagine my delight when her publishers offered us the chance of a proof copy of Sweet Temptation, her latest book, I wasn't letting that go either. I received it in March but decided to wait a while to read it but I finally couldn't resist, as it sounded great.
One thing I think Lucy Diamond excels at is managing to create fantastic female friendships. Over You, from what I remember featured some fantastic friendships, Hens Reunited was about three former friends rekindling their friendships and Sweet Temptation is no different. Here, Lucy takes three very different women and connects them via one medium: the Fatbusters club. Before each of the girl's meet at the Fatbusters club, we're introduced to Maddie who works at Brum FM. Her colleague Colette decides impulsively to being a campaign to Make Brum Beautiful and gives each of her colleagues - including herself - tasks to do over the Summer. Maddie's task is to lose weight, much to her embarrassment when Colette announces it live on radio, and join a Fatbusters club. Maddie isn't going to do it until an incident at her kids' school sports day made worse when one of her children asks her outright if she's going to die because of her weight. It shocks Maddie into action and she reluctantly goes along to the meeting.
Maddie goes along to the Fatbusters meeting and it turns out that she isn't the only new member that night. There's also Lauren, who runs a dating agency LoveHearts despite the fact her own marriage ended months earlier and then there's Jess, a shy beautician who is desperate to be a slim bride for her fiance Charlie. All of the three girls then decide to meet up and become dieting buddies on the advice of Alison, the Fatbusters group leader. But will the girls become more than just diet buddies? As well as having to deal with trying to lose weight, the girls also have a lot of family problems to deal with which helps make the book a bit weightier than it might first seem!
Another thing Lucy excels at is giving us fantastic characters. I loved all three female lead characters Maddie, Lauren and Jess. I think Jess was probably my favourite of the three but they all had fantastic points and would make a great friend for anyone. I felt really sorry for Maddie as she goes through a heck of a lot throughout the book not least being humiliated on live radio by her colleague and she also has to deal with her mum who as well as "helping" her in her weight loss bid also appears to be suffering from some bad headaches. I thought Maddie was lovely and deals with everything really well. As I mentioned, Jess was probably my favourite of the three ladies. She seemed sweet and incredibly nice and I hated the way her boyfriend, Charlie, treated her. He didn't seem to be a pleasant man and I truly wanted to punch him in the face. He had brought down Jess's self-esteem no end and I so so wanted Jess to wake up and smell the coffee. I eventually liked Lauren, too, she came across as a bit hard-nosed when we first met her but she eventually thaws out and she definitely comes into her own. There are a few other characters but the book mainly revolves around Maddie, Jess and Lauren.
The book is very well written and is told from Maddie, Jess and Lauren's perspective - they each alternate first-person narratives. It's a very clever way to write the book as it means we get to know each of the three ladies very well. However, the only problem I had with Sweet Temptation is that the difficult situations appear to be rather glossed over. Because the book focuses so much on three different girls then not everything is able to be explored properly. I personally would have liked a bit more time dedicated to Maddie and her mum as I loved their interactions throughout the book and they seemed to have a great relationship. Bar that though I thoroughly enjoyed reading Sweet Temptation. The 400 pages fly by and it's another great read from Lucy Diamond.
I hugely recommend Sweet Temptation - and the two other of Lucy's books that I've read - and I look forward to see what Lucy is working on now. It's also nice to see Lucy have a nice cover - I liked the Over You cover, but hated the Hens Reunited cover and now, she has a new design for Sweet Temptation which is quite nice. Sweet Temptation isn't as light a read as it might sound (and look) and Lucy Diamond is a great new addition to the Chick Lit genre. If you haven't already read one of her books then I recommend you go out and do that pronto particularly if you're a fan of well written chick lit that centers on fantastic female friendships!