4 diverse book reviews: be warned one is sexually explicit 😈

April 21, 2023

This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.

We hope no one is offended that we have included a review of So Close by Sylvia Day. However, after the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey amongst our age group of women, we thought it might be a book that could be enjoyed by some. Scroll through to the other three book reviews if So Close is not your genre!

So Close by Sylvia Day

Cast your mind back to 2011 and the publishing sensation that was E L James’s Fifty Shades of Grey with its erotic sexual descriptions. There wasn’t much plot (apparently – I never actually read it!), but that wasn’t the point of the trilogy. 

In fact, I had a dear friend who was so desperate to read it that she bought herself a Kindle. Then nobody would see what she was reading.  Why she didn’t cover the paperback in brown paper or even in Enid Blyton’s Noddy in Toyland, I don’t know.  Now, of course, it must be the most discarded book to end up on the charity shops’ bookshelves.

But back to 2023 – So Close by Japanese/American best-selling author Sylvia Day. Sylvia is the author of the best-selling Crossfire series,

Well, phew, that is all I can say.   

Kane Black is the most gorgeous specimen of a man.  He is CEO of a top American pharma company. He married the equally gorgeous Lily, who disappeared a week after their low-key marriage.  Kane has dedicated his entire penthouse suite to Lily’s memory and is devasted by grief.  Lily’s body, which entered the water at The Hamptons, has never been found. She is therefore presumed dead.

Until the day Kane spots her on the streets of Manhattan.  And then there is Kane’s mother, Aliyah. Determined not to be outdone by anyone, least of all her son(s) since Kane has two brothers. Both of the brothers are married to gorgeous – but not as hypnotic as Lily – women.

All of the protagonists have the most healthy sexual appetites. Not just once a day but more like once every hour. But it’s the sexual tension, techniques and chemistry between Kane, with his beautifully tailored clothes, his personalised cologne and all the trappings of the totally wealthy, and Lily, whose perfect body, couture clothing and luxurious black hair, that will drive readers to distraction. And, of course, the explicit sexual descriptions.

This is a gothic, twisty, turny read with lashings – and more – of sex.  Personally, I think you’re going to need a whole roll of brown paper to cover this one. To be honest, I think I learnt more by reading one chapter than I ever have in many years of marriage!

The Daughter-in-law by Fanny Blake (Simon & Schuster)

Books like this used to be known as Aga Sagas, with Joanne Trollope being the master (mistress?) of the genre. That term sadly seems to have fallen out of favour, but it’s definitely what it is.

Hope, who runs a firmly middle-class catering company, was delighted when her only son Paul met and married Elodie. Hope had always found Elodie difficult to warm to, but she was always available as Granny babysitter for toddler Betty, and now there was Hazel, albeit a very difficult baby.

However, Elodie was determined to return to work as a barrister and to prove that there was no reason for her not to make Silk and to continue her career. Two children just wouldn’t either determine her or stop her.

Elodie thinks that Hope is always poking her nose in.  Hope is convinced that she’s only trying to help and biting her tongue on many occasions.  And there is so much intrigue going on – you’ll be rooting for Hope, and a few pages on, it will be Elodie you feel for.

I read this in one sitting. A brilliant, brilliant read.

Such a Good Mother by Helen Monks Takhar (HarperCollins)

I don’t know about you, but whenever I used to pick the children – and now, of course, the grandchildren, up from school, I used to fret about what I was wearing, who I would talk to and whether I would embarrass the children. “Absolutely stupid,” said my husband and of course, he was completely right. 

But there is still something about that clique of women who look you up and down, sneer at your clothes and genuinely make you feel as if nothing you ever do or say can be right.

And that’s the sort of premise behind Such a Good Mother.

Rose O’Connell works in the local bank, where of course, she wears their corporate uniform, made of polyester, but she is determined to do the best for her son and is desperate to get him into the Woolf Academy.  There is a clique of mothers denoted by their gold “circle” brooch, which show that they are the elite, the Parents Association par excellence and which other mothers aspire to join. Rose herself is just one of the overlooked mothers.

And so Rose cannot believe it when she receives an invitation to join them, which of course, sends her social status sky-high. But why has Amala, Queen Bee of all the Bees, invited Rose? And having been invited into The Circle, what is it that Rose has to do to keep her insider place? And what is it that Amala wants her to do?

This is one dark and twisted story. Who would imagine that school mums would be so devious?

Brazen – My unorthodox journey from Long Sleeves to Lingerie by Julia Hart (Endeavour)

I started watching the series My Unorthodox Life on Netflix a few months ago. There are two seasons of this reality show, and of course, I’ve grown up with the “frum” (orthodox) community of Jewish life driving through Stamford Hill and Golders Green in London.  Where I lived in Totteridge, all of my parents’ friends attended the Orthodox Synagogue, but for most of us, it was very much social interaction, i.e. attending ‘shool’ on ‘high days and holidays’. And, of course, we would all dress up for barmitzvahs and weddings.

But for Julie Haart,  her descent into the most ultra of orthodox Jewishness was gradual, and I simply cannot believe the way in which she was allowed to behave and to be treated by her parents. And I can’t imagine how Julia had the strength of character to break free.  It’s a simply unbelievable biography. This is the story of how she broke free.

Born in Russia, she moved with her parents at age three to Austin, Texas, where she attended private school and was the school’s only Jewish pupil. It was fourth grade when her parents moved to Monsey, New York, with its large Haredi community – something that appealed to Julia’s parents as they became more religious. Julia became increasingly uncomfortable through to the early 2000s, living life in this ultra-religious community and realised that the community were trying to do to her daughter what her parents had done to her. Once she had left the community, she changed her name to Haart. 

Amazing strength of character – and a wonderful read.


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