Ellis Renois is a NOLA born and bred fashion designer at the top of her game. She, with support from her exceedingly savvy mother and a host of friends in senior places, has built up a fashion label and empire that employs hundreds and stars on the Paris and NY catwalk while catering to the chain store requirements for well priced copies of her creations.
Ellis has never forgotten where she came from and every year gives an internship to one unknown designer to show them the ropes and set them on their way – frequently with disastrous consequences as Ms Renois finds it hard to resist a beautiful women. This year her attention is caught by the 9 y/o daughter of an applicant, and while Charlotte’s drawings are interesting it is the artistic Sawyer who really catches her attention.
So the stage is set for a traditional romance.. or is it? While we quickly get hints of subterfuge and backstabbing from people Ellis thought were friends and trusted to run her business, the evil intent goes much further than we could realise from the opening chapters, and Ellis soon finds herself fighting for her business and the livelihood of her staff.
I love Ali Vali’s writing and this was no exception. The romance is charming, the combination of attraction and wariness is played just right, the charming Ellis is never quite sure where she stands while Charlotte is fighting the attraction to the woman who seems such a player, and Sawyer plays inadvertent matchmaker by her very presence.
The suspense/intrigue keeps on going, with multiple twists and turns, and the plot sustains our interest. People assume Ellis is less savvy than she is because she doesn’t like the detail of running a business, she is the creative genius, but that doesn’t mean somebody isn’t keeping an eye. As the plot unfolds Ellis finds out who she can trust and who are her real friends – and just how creative she can get when pushed into an ever-shrinking corner.
The characters are great, Ellis the seeming player with hidden depths, Charlotte who is almost too good, and the wonderful Sawyer who will steal your heart just as quickly as she stole Ellis’s. The secondary characters ae well drawn and while there are a lot of people involved and at times it feels almost overwhelming as to who did what and who pushed the buttons, that adds to the intrigue.. who exactly is behind all the misfortune that dogs the House of Renois this season?
As well written and creative as always, the descriptions of NOLA are particularly well done – I really enjoyed this… in fact I’m going to make the time to re-read it ASAP.
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(publisher review copy received)
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