Well Groomed is the sequeal novel to the popular French Relations by Fiona Walker.
Fast forward two years from Tash French's horse riding and heart ache in her Mother's french chateau, she is happily living with Niall, her happy-go-lucky Irish actor boyfriend, who she fell madly in love with in French Relations. However, all is not well, depite still being in love with Niall, they don't spend anytime with each other due to Niall's heavy filming schedule.
A misunderstanding at christmas by Tash's grandmother Etty leads to an unexpected engagement and Tash and Niall are thrown into wedding plans that they put up with to keep their families happy.
The problem is Hugo, Tash's long term crush is still hanging around in the background and still being as harsh and cruel to Tash as ever. While, Niall is losing himself in drink and the arms of Tash's friend Zoe.
But believe it or not, the wedding goes ahead but then again as with the French family it doesn't go exactly to plan.......for a start the bride dosen't look like Tash and the best man looks strangly familiar!?!?!
I Have finally finished yet another Fiona Walker novel. This one is called “Well Groomed” and is a follow up from “French Relations”. Because it is a continued story it was easy to get into at the beginning. It follows the main characters being Tash French, Niall O’Shaunessey and Hugo Beauchamp. French Relations finished with Tash and Niall finally getting together after a string of misunderstandings and bad timings. Well Groomed continues the story two years on and now Tash and Niall have set up home together in a rented cottage called “The Old Forge” at Fosbourne Ducis. They moved there so Tash could start a new career in Eventing. She had a horse bought for her called Snob by her Mother and Step Father Pascal. Snob is a rather difficult horse to control and many a day is spent being thrown off and coming home with a variety of cuts and bruises. Tash works for Penny and Gus Moncrieff, who are great friends with Hugo. They had been in the industry for many years and are always struggling financially to keep afloat. They live at “Lime Tree Farm” with Penny’s sister Zoe and her children. Zoe split from her husband several years ago, and helps the running of the house, she is the most organised person there. The farm is a friendly welcoming place, which has plenty of visitors. Niall, whom is a well know actor is not really into this “Eventing” scene and most of the time works away on location, either at the other end of the country or promoting a film in the States. Tash & Niall are both very disorganised people and regularly turn up late to organised occasions and looking like they have been dragged through a hedge backwards. Infuriating the hosts in the process. Due to their hectic lifestyles they were parted for most of their two-year relationship. A misunderstanding leads to arrangements being made for a lavish wedding for Tash & Niall. Her
scatty Grandmother notices a ring on Tash’s finger and thinks its an engagement ring. The gossip goes around and everyone is overjoyed for the forthcoming wedding. The ring in fact had just come out of Tash’s Christmas cracker. The wedding arrangements are well over the top with little input being made by the future Bride and Groom, they are just happy to let them get on with it. They were happy with the way the relationship was but feel that maybe in time they would have got married anyway so what the hell let them get on with it. Part of the way through the book it becomes apparent that Niall is unsettled and getting a little down. He had started to drink heavily which is what he did when his first wife Lisette left him for another man and then managed to screw him for a huge settlement pay out in the process. Tash is aware of Niall’s drinking but does little about it. She is very similar to an Ostrich, any problems she sticks her head in the sand in hope that the problems will all get sorted. Niall however feels Tash is not really interested and turns his attention to the lovely, reliable Zoe and what originally starts out as a friendship leads to a lot more. Not forgetting the gorgeous Hugo, who has been mad about Tash ever since they all stayed in France at her mother’s house. He is always on the look out for her and protecting her from herself really, as she is so naive it’s really annoying. ( I really wanted to kick her up the bottom some times. ) Hugo and Tash regularly see each other at horse events, but she never really takes the hint when he is chatting her up, she always dwells on the negative side of the conversation. Hugo is quite a brute at times; he likes to hurt her feelings as he feels she is messing about with his. He does not realise that she is not aware of how he feels about her. The relationship finally gets off the ground nearer the end of the book, when he wins the most important
event of the year at Badminton, on Tash’s favourite horse, of which she loaned him. Overall the book is a great read, probably more so if you love horses, which I am not really a lover of, only when betting on them. The romance is good and after a lot of disappointment and mishaps there eventually is a happy ending.
Well, Hugo is well tasty in my opinion, but I digress! I like this book so much, that I suggested to the nice man who runs this section that he might like to add this book, just so that I can give my opinion on it. I read this book before its prequel, French Relations, but it really didn't matter. The book's heroine is Tash French, tall, gangly and beautiful, but desperately insecure (I think we can all relate a bit to the latter), and madly in love with Niall, the romantic, whiskey drinking, Irish hunk of an actor. They met in the first book, but, again, this doesn't matter. Well Groomed opens on Christmas day, on a rare occasion when Tash and Niall are both in their freezing cold cottage, and proceeds to lead the reader a merry dance through their relationship and their relationships with others. Whilst Niall is away filming blockbusters left, right and centre, working to earn enough money to pay off his scheming ex-wife, Lisette, Tash, who thanks to the horse given to her by her mother and step-father in the first book, has returned to her childhood dreams, and is working for the Moncrieff stables, where Penny and Gus, eventing and cross country freaks, are struggling to keep things together, both financially and emotionally. Tash keeps Snob, her horse, at the yard, and enjoys spending time with the family, Penny and Gus, Penny's sister and her two teenage children, along with assorted animals, grooms, staff and visitors. Hugo Beauchamp, Tash's teenage crush, lives nearby, and runs a successful yard himself, and is really rich to boot, although you wouldn't think it to look at the house, left to him by his father, lived in by his mother and a pug called Gordons'. Hugo benevolently helps the Moncrieff's out financially, but only so that Tash can have the chances she needs with her horse. Tash, of course, is unaware of this. Hugo's best mate, is B
en, a totally down to earth titled man, who is married to Sophia, Tash's older ex-model sister. Tash's brother, Matty is married to Sally, who meets up again with old friend, Lisette, whilst Matty is Niall's best friend. Confused? Each character in this book is an individual, no matter how much they get mixed up with each other. I could go on and on, and retell the story in my own words, but I wouldn't do it justice. A mixture of horses, dogs, film sets, business deals, back-stabbing, double crossing, self discovery, humour and above all love and passion, this book is a stunner. Fiona Walker theme of writing is reminiscent of Jilly Cooper, but she has her own style, that will have you laughing out loud at some of the antics, chewing your knuckles in frustration when you know that something should happen, but obviously isn't going to, and finally it will make you smile when you reach an ending that was almost inevitable from the start, and would have saved the characters a lot of heartache if they had done it from the start. But that would mean that you would miss an enjoyable read, from first to last page.
Follow up to French Relations, but very readable by itself, takes you into the lives of the landed gentry, film stars, the upper class with country houses, and cross country eventing, with a liberal splash of fantastic fun, hysterical happenings and romantic rendezvous.