Sunday, 17 July 2011

Review: California Dreamers by Belinda Jones

Ever wished you could make over your life? Make-up artist Stella is an expert at helping other people change their images, but when it comes to transforming herself, she doesn’t even know where to start.
So when her new friend, glamorous Hollywood actress Marina Ray, summons her to a movie set in California, Stella can’t resist the chance to start afresh – it is the land of sunshine and opportunity after all!
But are they really friends or does Marina have an ulterior motive? What is the secret that both women are hiding about the nautical (but nice) men in their lives? And just what will it take to make both of their California dreams come true?

I really loved this book. Not all of Belinda Jones’ strike the right chord with me, but her last few have definitely hit the mark. You can guarantee that there will be a far off sunshine filled world, full of  swoon-worthy romance, and at least one sexy bloke to top it all off.
It’s my summer guilty pleasure, a little break away from the regency romance I so love.

Whilst her name made me cringe, I loved the heroine Stella – and the transformation came about naturally instead of being crow barred in which was good. I really wanted her to win, and genuinely cared what happened to her.
However Marina was a bit hit and miss with me. I loved her to start with, and then the further we got the more ruthless and uncaring she seemed. So by the end I wasn’t quite sure about her. Which was a shame, because as I said I really liked her character to start with – a bubbly down to earth, approachable person. And a perfect rocket to get behind Stella’s transformation.

Milo, oh Milo, I could wax lyrical about you for days.
This is one gripe I do have with some of Jones’ books. Sometimes the really sexy guy who you spend the entire novel swooning over doesn’t end up being the hero. It ends up being someone who was absent for most of the book but held our heroine’s heart from afar. Now don’t get me wrong I love love overcoming all obstacles, but when I haven’t really had an opportunity to warm to the guy who is her true love, and I’ve spent the entire novel swooning over the distraction guy, I get a little grumpy. I want swooning with true love! If distraction guy is nothing but a distraction I want less swooning! Did that make any sense at all?

And whilst I adored the Milo at the start, the Milo by the end of the book was really getting on my nerves. Again like Marina he seemed to undergo a personality change part way through. He stopped being sexy and turned into leery. Which was disappointing.

However, whilst I did have gripes, they were in no way off putting. I loved the book – the sun, the sea, the sassy and the sexy. It’s all there. There’s even a brief cameo for Carmen, heroine of ‘Livin La Vida Loca’ (insert cheer here.)

So, overall a few gripes, but true love wins out which is fab, and I really did enjoy it. Belinda Jones is exceptionally good at taking her readers to these far off places and giving them a mental if not physical, break from the rainy summer we’re experiencing in the UK. And the setting is truly phenomenal – actually every setting was. I loved it! And I loved the history that Jones slots in. Her books are never just fluff, they deal with real human emotions, real people, but without the angst that sometimes comes with that. You get enough fluff to make it ok, and you know that the heroine will get her happily ever after and find herself no matter how pants her starting point is.

The secondary characters are a mix of stereotypes, but a lot of them have untapped layers which emerge over the course of the book, so there’s always some extra drama and revelations along the way, so there’s never a dull moment!

A fresh beach read, that I will no doubt come back to – and I eagerly wait for the next summer and my next sun drenched adventure.

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