Reviewed by Emma Crowley
Three couples each receive an exclusive invitation to the fantasy holiday destination of a lifetime…
The host: Martin McKenzie, global billionaire and media mogul. Charismatic, powerful and always gets what he wants.
The location: A breathtakingly beautiful undiscovered island, nestled in the Aegean Sea. Private, secluded and not quite as it seems.
The details: Seven days of pure hedonism, five-star luxury tailored to every desire, also includes… secrets, lies, and infidelity.
As the guests begin to enjoy everything the luxury island has to offer, cracks begin to surface between the three couples. But that is not all. Someone is watching them. When they discover the truth – it will be explosive in more ways than they can ever imagine.
Pleasure Island has such a beautiful, striking cover that totally evokes the feeling of Summer and all it entails. When this book was first revealed over on Twitter it struck me initially that that both the title and cover were very reminiscent of novels by Victoria Fox and early Tasmina Perry, both experts in the Summer bonk/blockbuster genre and this book slips in nicely alongside the pair. I'm a huge fan of both authors and can now add Anna Lou Weatherley to this list as Pleasure Island was simply stunning and has left me with a huge book hangover that will take a considerable amount of time to cure. Admittedly I had never heard of this author before but it was the cover and title that just screamed 'read me now, I am the ideal read for the summer months'. I wasn't fortunate enough to read this by a pool in a hot country but nonetheless it didn't take away from my enjoyment in any way. I wanted this read to take me away to a tropical place in my head and far from the gloomy weather we have had here in Ireland for what seems like forever and it certainly did providing me with a story I won't forget in a hurry.
The cover alone provoked numerous questions. Why was that woman there on the walkway? Would the island offer as much pleasure as the title suggests or does it have secrets, lies, scandal, betrayal and adventure in store for its lucky visitors? This is an epic trip which the selected few won't forget in a hurry. The quote on the first page indicates we are in for a bumpy ride as pleasure and pain are said to be opposite from each other yet constant companions. So does the island experience entail equal amounts of both? Well that would be giving things away wouldn't it? You really can't say too much about this book because the smallest thing would give the whole thing away and ruin what is a phenomenal read. It has an incredible pace packed full of twists and turns full of manipulation and surprises.
The prologue alone was tension filled and tantalisingly glimpses were offered that only made me want to read on and reach the main body of the story. We are introduced to Martin McKenzie overseeing a meeting of sorts with a select few people present. Their wealth indicates that they are lucky to be attending this meeting as it is a club which only top dollars and connections can buy entry to. Even from just a few pages it's evident McKenzie is an ambitious, determined, ruthless, selfish, spiteful control freak whose true character shows the further we delve into the book. What role he plays you will have to discover for yourself?
So the basic premise of the book is six guests are invited to a luxury island for a two week all expenses paid holiday. Anything you could wish for will be laid on. Think of it and it will magically appear. No request too big or small. Sure you couldn't refuse. You may feel this is too routine I've read this before and it's been done to death but rest assured you have never read anything like this. The entire concept is just mind blowingly good and I was left more than stunned several times over. The six guests have all been chosen for specific reasons and the reader is left guessing the entire way through.This is great I like to be kept on my toes and not have all the questions answered at once. I genuinely didn't have a clue about most of the characters connections and reasons for inclusion except for one but that was very near the end when something just clicked with me. Instead I sat back and enjoyed the thrilling ride. So just who was invited?
Angelika Deyton, a journalist, who is on the rise within her newspaper and married to Rupert, a celebrity barrister. The pair don't have a great relationship. They basically exist, argue and throw insults at each other. Angelika believes the trip will bring them closer together and help solve some of their issues. Angelika was my favourite character dare I say it she seemed to be the most normal amongst all the madness. She had a bit of commonsense and ingenuity to her. Mia Manhattan, a washed up starlet, is accompanied by toyboy lover Joshua James himself on the cusp of fame with his band. Mia is bitter, no one in the celeb world wants to know her and her agent can never secure her any bookings. This invitation is the last resort to put her name back on the map. She was my least favourite character as she seemed to whine and moan a lot and expected her career to pick back on track without putting any effort into it. Having a young lover whose head is in the clouds will not achieve this. Nate - a former footballer currently in a serious depression and married to wannabe model Billie Jo is the last to be invited. Nate is not sure she is marriage material rather a fame seeker with a serious habit that needs controlling. Billie Jo may be ditzy but god she has some sharp one liners that put other women in their place. So why have these six been invited? Well they don't know and they have no idea what awaits them and trust me reader you are in for one heck of a ride. You have the details re the players now let the game commence and enjoy every fabulous minute of it.
Pleasure Island is one of those books that has you up reading until the early hours rapidly turning the pages keen to discover what lies next around the corner. You only turn off the light because your eyes are closing and need to be rested. To continue on would do this book an injustice otherwise you would miss out on details and gems of one liners and observations thrown in a paragraph when least expected. This is not your usual clichéd Summer bonkbuster, yes it has what you would expect from that type of read but behind all that there is a good decent storyline extremely well executed. The two elements combined to create a sublime Summer read.The author has taken the general concept of this genre and turned it on its head and should be congratulated for writing such a different read sure to enthral many people this Summer. Anna Lou Weatherley you have earned yourself a new fan and I suspect many more are waiting in the wings. This is THE Summer read of 2015 go and buy it now.
I'd like to thank Emma for her fab review of Pleasure Island which we received from the publisher via NetGalley.