If you keep dangerous secrets you’ll pay the ultimate price…
In the South of France, playground of the rich and famous, world renowned chef Dexter Franklin is organising a night to remember. As he opens the doors to his exclusive restaurant for the first time, he’s handpicked a list of guests, as hot and dazzling as the St Tropez sun itself:
Mew Stanton: Fashionable, beautiful and a notorious TV chef, Dexter’s ex-girlfriend has all the ingredients for success. As her books fly off the shelves, a secret from her past is about to surface with explosive consequences.
Holly Lydon: Ex girlband star who has fallen on hard times. Forced to make ends meet she’s having to sleep her way to the top. Now she’s making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Rosita Velázquez: Brazilian actress extraordinaire and girlfriend of Dexter’s brother, Leland. When she’s in town everybody needs to know about it, but this is one show-stopping entrance she’ll live to regret.
Three women have a past with Dexter and a grudge to bear against him. As fireworks ignite in the jet set capital of Europe, there’s murder on the menu. Who will be served their just desserts?
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I've heard lots about author Nigel May, and seen many people on various blogs and Twitter raving about his books, but up until now I have never gotten around to reading anything he has written. There was a part of me slightly dubious as to whether a male author could pull of a bonkbuster/racy/raunchy novel. This is a genre which I wouldn't read in abundance but I do love dipping in and out of books written by the likes of Anna Lou Weatherly or Victoria Fox every now and again. I like the escape these sorts of read offer you and behind the cast of many colourful characters there is a good mystery always waiting to be uncovered. The nature of these novels are pure escapism and, yes I'll say it, ideal holiday reads. They are filled with characters whom you question could even exist in the real world outside of fiction such depraved, lavish lifestyles do they lead. Also there are plot lines that boarder on the credible and often teeter on the edge of ridiculousness, yet there is something that always pulls you into this genre and the read becomes riveting and engrossing as you read on in equal measure of amazement and horror at what is unfolding before your very eyes. You find yourself thankful that you for the most part you are grateful you have a humdrum normal life and that in reading this genre you are given an escape for a couple or hours or days if need be and the stories and lives of the characters take over and leave you open mouthed at their antics yet strangely fascinated with everything going on.
Revenge is the sixth book published by Nigel May and although it won't win any literary awards (but then how many of us actually read those high brow award winning books) but god it was a very good story well told that kept the reader guessing until the last possible moment before the reveal was upon us. Revenge is a story I presume similar to the others Nigel has written full of sex, lies, glamour, intrigue, temptation, manipulation and mystery. Right from the prologue there is no holding back. This is a no holed barred insight into the lives of the rich and maybe not so famous as they once were who are all attending the opening night of world renowned chef Dexter Franklin's new restaurant. The story picks up five years after the prologue set in Brazil when we met burlesque star Cher Le Visage as she is about to perform at a charity event near Iguazu Falls. Unfortunately for Cher she is on the very bottom rung of the celebrity ladder and is desperate for any kind of 'gig' that will bring her some much needed money. But this night is not to be her best and she is found strangled by a feather boa.
As we fast forward five years to St. Tropez we are introduced over several chapters to a whole host of characters each in my opinion worse than the last as we meet them although Mew did prove to be my favourite. It's not that I hated the rest it's just they are very difficult people to like or identify with but then I wonder are we really meant to considering our lives are so vastly different from theirs? There is little mention of Cher and the prologue, and in all honesty I forgot about it and wasn't in that much of a hurry to discover who had committed the deadly deed, as I became enthralled with the goings on of the characters.
Dexter a celebrity chef is a man with a grudge, his career has slightly floundered no thanks to restaurant critic DC Riding and his way with words. But now Dexter is on the cusp of opening his new Moroccan themed restaurant in St.Tropez and wants the world to know he is on top of his game. Several people receive a specific invitation to the opening night and the reasons behind this become clear towards the end but there is a lot of water to flow under the bridge before everything can be revealed.
Mew Stanton is a celebrity chef having won a tv competition with Dexter as the judge. She is releasing a new cookbook and on a publicity tour with her publisher Olivia when she receives an invite from Dexter. Something which she thought would never happen considering their history and she wonders whether it is worth going. Would it stir up old emotions best left buried or even long held secrets? Mew had been a part of mega successful pop group Crazy Sour before things with fellow band mate Holly Lydon all went sour. Mew still has hatred deeply ingrained in her heart and mind and hopes by accepting the invite things won't go back to the way there were considering the success she has now achieved. Olivia tags along for the trip as well. I found her to be a character who was very much on the outside, a hanger on and someone aiming to achieve a higher position than where she was. She was annoying and frustrating even if she did play the part of support when needed to and found answers at just the right time. She was often forgotten but boy was she soaking everything up in St.Tropez and could put her info and what she had seen to good use.
Holly Lydon is a former member of Crazy Sour now very much down on her luck, even her antics as a kinky call girl don't get her much attention these days. She arrives by bus to St. Tropez far from the helicopter arrival of the others. Why has Dexter invited her here? She is a has been who knows no boundaries. As we flash back and forth in Holly's story there is an element of compassion the reader does start to feel for her and throughout the book the author makes us realise that not everyone is as they first seem. Beneath the brash exteriors there are hidden depths and secrets and connections some want kept that way and others are determined to bring things out into the open.
As mentioned DC Riding is a restaurant critic and maybe Dexter has brought him to the opening just to prove he is on top of his game. DC loved the high life and his scenes with a certain somebody left me open mouthed. Suffice to say no detail is spared in the slightest. At times you do just have to keep reading and not fully absorb some of the sexual antics of the characters as the author doesn't hold back with descriptions.
Rosita Velazquez is a Brazilian actress famous in her native country and not really anywhere else. She longs for worldwide fame and is dating Dexter's brother Leland who is an extreme TV star whom one could compare to Bear Grylls. I didn't care much for Rosita even though she was full of self confidence but again she had her role to play. Leland was a man obsessed with women and sex. Treat them mean and keep then keen, he used woman to his own advantage and to further his career. Missy is his latest conquest along for the ride. Someone not officially invited but gets in on the action is Fabienne Delacroix, a news reporter for the La Riveria newspaper. She seemed to be the sanest person amongst the motley crew but will she expose what's really going on through her clever investigative journalism?
Once all the characters had been introduced we flash back and forth between the past and the present and I began to like Nigel May's style of writing. Initially I had thought there were too many characters and would certain people have a more flimsier storyline than others but really it was all actually very clever and as the connections and intentions slowly started to be uncovered I was applauding the author at weaving everything together so well. All the gossip, scandal, animosity, tension and thrills just increased apace in the days leading up to the big launch night as they guests are forced to mingle together at the hotel. There were so many tangled webs and connections that I didn't see but the flashbacks helped to make things clearer and gave great insight into the mindset and intentions of many.
The glamorous locations used apart from St. Tropez were fantastic and really brought the book to life. There were plenty of sex scenes for those who like to see many included in this sort of read. I just take them for what they are and the added spice they bring to the overall story and become amazed at how the characters intermingle and move from one person to the next so quickly. As we build and build to the main climax of the story there are revelations aplenty one in particular which really took me by surprise. I loved how I had never seen it coming and as we tie back to the prologue I was astounded by what unfolded and how brilliantly Nigel May really had written this book.
Although Revenge may have been the first book I have read by this author it certainly won't be the last. Definitely Nigel is a rival to the authors I have mentioned previously and yes a male author can successfully pull off this kind of story. This thrilling, sexy read was a great way to pass a couple of hours over my holidays and I will certainly be reading the other book I have from Nigel which has languished on my Kindle for far too long.
Many thanks to Bookouture via NetGalley for my copy of Revenge to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.