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The Arlington family are the biggest gaming family in Las Vegas. Frank and Sofia Arlington run the show whilst their son, Ben, desires to break free and make it out on his own - just when his father announces his promotion. Daughter Ariel longs to show her parents that she's just as good as Ben, despite being a girl, and after being passed over for promotion - in favour of Ben - decides it's time to show her parents she's more than an airhead. Meanwhile, a figure from Sofia's past, Bessie Edwards, is threatening to destabilise the entire Arlington family in one fell swoop and reclaim what is rightfully hers, but Sofia is not about to let that happen at all and sets about making everything right within her family and her life once again. Each member of the Arlington family have their own wishes, but can any of them make their dreams come true? And what of Bessie Edwards - just what secrets does she have to tell, and how destructive will they really be to the Arlington family?
Last year saw the first book, Betrayal, by a new author called Sasha Blake. It was all very hush-hush and it was obvious that the author was a pseudonym, and it came out a couple of months later that Sasha Blake is in fact Anna Maxted, author of numerous chick lit books. Because she decided to change the tone of her books, she began using a pseudonym but, for a while, her publishers didn't want anybody to know (I don't know why -- surely, it would make sense to tell people?). I digress. A few months ago I received Sasha's new book The Wish and I thought it sounded interesting; not my kind of read, but interesting nevertheless so after admiring the beautiful brown cover I decided to give it a read.
The Wish is split into four different parts; book one, book two, book three and book four and each focus on a certain time. Books one, three and four are all set in present day Vegas and focus mainly on the Arlington family. "Book One" sees the arrival of the woman who could destroy Sofia and her family, Bessie Edwards, and how Sofia deals with her. We also learn about the Arlington/Castillo fight that has gone on between Frank Arlington and Luke Castillo ever since Frank came onto Luke's turf years back. Then there's the fact that Ben and Ariel Arlington both want different things: Ben wants to break out on his own, away from the family whereas Ariel just wants to show her parents she isn't as stupid as they think she is. The opposite happens, though, when Ben gets promoted, leaving Ariel angry and gutted. Finally, we have Lulu, Ben's PA, who is secretly in love with him... Despite the fact he's engaged to someone else.
"Book Two" then deals with Sofia's past, and we learn exactly what happened to her as a youngster right up until how she managed to marry Frank Arlington. Running opposite is Bessie Edwards' past and we learn exactly how the two came to make secrets with each other. "Book Three" and "Book Four" then deal with the aftermath of everything we've learnt and everything comes to an inevitable head. I did wonder why the book was separated into "Books" because that usually doesn't work for me, but it helps to separate the book up a little bit, as there are no chapters; there's just gaps between perspectives. I got into the book fairly easily, and was surprised at how in depth it was. I know Anna/Sasha is a British author so a lot of research must have been needed to really get into the grittiness of Las Vegas's casino world and, although I know nothing about Las Vegas or the casino world (bar what I see in movies/on TV), I thought Anna/Sasha did a great job. There's a lot going on throughout The Wish but I managed to keep up fairly well. I would have appreciated a list of characters at the beginning of the novel - there are so many - but I did eventually manage to understand who everybody was.
It's fair to say that most of the characters that make up The Wish aren't exactly saints. Although I'm sure that to run a casino in Vegas, and to make it as a casino owner, you can't exactly do everything by the book so I suppose that attributes to the fact that the majority of characters throughout The Wish are kind of nasty. Sofia Arlington is without a doubt one of the nastiest characters I think I've ever come across. The way she treats everyone, and the things she does to people, are just disgraceful and I didn't like her at all. I felt so sorry for Frank Arlington, Sofia's husband, because despite being dimwitted he didn't seem too bad, certainly not bad enough to have a wife like Sofia! Two characters I really did like were the Arlington children, Ben and Ariel. With so many characters to keep up with, those two were the ones I really cared about, along with Lulu, Ben's personal assistant. Bar those three, I wasn't a huge fan of anyone else, and there were definitely more characters than that to keep up with. But whilst I found the other characters (Sunshine, Bessie, Luke Castillo) integral to the story, I didn't think much of them as people. Either Sasha/Anna wrote it that way, or I just didn't get their appeal at all.
The Wish is fairly well written, and is definitely different to Anna's works under her real name, which were far more chick lit than her new style of books. I've only read one of Anna's books so I probably couldn't say if the writing style is similar in any way but suffice to say if I didn't already know it was Anna Maxted then I never would have made the comparison. A few of the plot twists and devices were a bit twee and convenient, but the majority of the book was definitely grittier than I expected, and the ending was quite literally stunning and the book went off with quite a bang. I forgot what I was reading for a moment, I must say. I didn't know what to expect when I started The Wish but I thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm glad I decided to give it a read rather than letting it sit, unread, on my bookshelves for a long time. The Wish really is worth picking up, it's a fantastic family saga and is well worth a read.