Monday, 13 July 2015

The Riviera - Karen Aldous

About the book...
The journey is only as good as its end…

It’s been a hard journey, but Lizzie Lambert’s life is a Provençal dream come true. Her business is wildly successful, and with her little boy and the love of her life, Cal, she is making a beautiful home on the vineyard for their blended family.

But when Cal goes to America to support his son through a teenage crisis, it becomes clear the kid’s not the only one with some growing up to do: Cal’s glamorous ex-wife wants to get her claws in him again. As Cal spends longer and longer away, Lizzie wonders, was it all too good to be true?

Escape to Provence with Karen Aldous’ The Riviera, the perfect read for an idyllic summer.

About the author...
Karen Aldous enjoys village life on the edge of the north-downs in Kent with easy access to the buzz of London. Not only does she love the passive pleasures of reading and writing, she also craves the more active pursuits with her family and friends such as walking, cycling and skiing especially when they involve food and wine!

Karen gets much of her inspiration from her travels and if she had to choose, France, Greece, Switzerland, Italy and the USA would be her favourites. However, wherever she goes, she discovers a new character emerges in 'Karen's World'. 

She likes to write about strong independent women who can direct their own lives - but struggle to control them! And, of course there's always a gorgeous hunk or two!

My thoughts...
I was given an ecopy of The Riviera in exchange for an honest review by Karen's publishers Carina which I am more than happy to give. I didn't read the synopsis or give more than a cursory glance to the cover, so unlike me as I am an out and out cover tart, it was sufficient  just to know Karen Aldous had written another book.

It's July 2015 and the sun is finally shining because at last, I have got my hands on a copy of Karen Aldous' latest offering The Riviera, a sequel to The Vineyard.  It seems so long since I read The Vineyard, yet in reality it's just short of eleven months.

Karen has woven a story of love around family, trust and friendships with a healthy dose of romance for good measure.  Secrets are uncovered, friendships and relationships are forged. This is a  truly beautiful novel that will at times break your heart, then lift it beyond recognition. 

The Riviera gives us the chance to find out what happened to our main characters Lizzie and Cal after we closed the final chapter on them in The Vineyard along with their mothers and best friends Charlie and Sophie.  Suffice to say Cal and Lizzie are madly in love and planning for the future. Their happiness and love literally oozes off the pages, burning hotter than the hottest french sunshine ever could until a cloud hangs over them, that nothing seems able to shift.

Just as they are making plans and building their dream home together Cal receives an urgent message from his son, a cryptic message for help that sees Cal boarding a plane to America to offer him support. He wasn't able to support him through his younger years so is determined to be there for him now.   Although, at this stage he has no idea how much and for how long that support will be, he just knows he has to put his relationship with his son first.

The time Cal spent with Jack brings them closer together but without realising pushes his relationship with Lizzie to the edge.  Just like in real life events unfold and  a few curve balls are thrown prompting some truthful but painful conversations.  The emotions run high and as a reader I wasn't quite sure which way things would go. This book displays so well how lack of communication and trust can cause problems to escalate.  Often situations are multi faceted and are easy to misread, you've got to be able to see things from many angles to truly understand.

The Riviera sees Cal and Lizzie repeatedly pulled in different directions, trying to do their best by their family and by their work commitments and it's all down to Karen's descriptive ability that I felt I was taking the journey with them.  The vulnerability and innocence of Jack and Thierry, Lizzie's son melted my heart time and time again.  Past problems, hurt, mis-trust and jealousy  drive a wedge between Cal and Lizzie  that just didn't feel right.  I was firmly in their corner willing them to sort out their problems, I could have cried for a wasted relationship.

This novel delivers exactly what you except and more - providing escapism with more than a touch of reality.  I'd advise everyone to grab a glass of wine and settle down for a journey that is highly emotional but will leave you sighing contentedly.  The hot french sun sees passion and tempers running high but what happens when the evening cools with the setting sun - you'll have to read it for yourself and find out.  You won't be disappointed, Karen Aldous is an author that you need on 'auto order'.  As I raise my glass of rose I ask Karen how can you top this? Cheers!

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