Astute, intelligent, gripping romance for the modern woman.
From the first page I was entirely hooked. I love, love the world in which the story is situated. The author so expertly transports you to Beverly Hills and, for a period, Paris, and offers a glimpse of glamour while showing those who work hard behind the scenes to create that glamour. Award ceremonies, luxury hotels, the very best restaurants… but ultimately one of the most magical scenes of the book takes place in a catering kitchen.
This is a romance, but it’s so much more as well. It’s refreshing to find in the genre a book that’s immersed in the world of business; that talks confidently of assets and loans and acquisitions. For me, the business context is utterly fascinating. The author does not bamboozle the reader with complex corporate matters that they couldn’t understand, but neither does she dumb down the story: she writes for an engaged, thinking reader.
The result is a really compelling plot that had me turning the pages faster and faster. The story starts at a high point, with Verena accepting an award for the success of her family business, but as the economic downturn takes hold her life quickly spirals downwards. The further I got, the more I felt there was no way out for the trap into which Verena fell; I felt so sorry for her. Without wishing to spoil the story, I will simply say that the ending, for me, is perfect, and left me with a wide smile.
The characters reach out of the pages and pull you into their lives, and they stay with you long after you close the book. There’s quite a cast (I’m most excited at the thought of more books in the series covering the minor characters in this novel) but that never detracts from the centrality of the main Flawless characters.
I adored the character of Mia, Verena’s grandmother, whose spirit is indomitable – every woman should have a chic, loving, compassionate grandmother such as her! I found the details of her building Valent Swiss Skincare quite fascinating; what a remarkable woman.
The two men who tug on Verena’s heartstrings are Derrick and Lance. I couldn’t stand Derrick from the outset – just the kind of man who leaves me cold – which only increased my pull toward Lance. He’s attractive, he’s generous, he’s thoughtful, he’s the knight in shining armour when required and (swoon!) he’s an amazing chef. Jan’s descriptions of the meals he prepares for Verena had me craving fine dining! But what I love most of all about Lance is his emotional maturity. He knows more than Verena throughout most of the story, but he understands enough of the world to see that it has to be that way – that she must make discoveries for herself.
Then there is the heroine, Verena. What an admirable woman! I very much respected her for her work ethic, for her strong family loyalty and for her no-nonsense practicality. She has such responsibility on her shoulders – for the family business and for the family itself, with twin sisters and a fragile grandmother to support – but she does not bow under the weight; she pushes ever onwards. And she does so with brilliant style. I love this line: ‘When she reached their office door, she took aim with her high heel and kicked it open.’ Twice in the novel I wanted to shout at her, ‘No! You’ve got it wrong!’ – the first when she is far too forgiving and the second when she’s about to… well, I’ll say no more than ‘do something she really shouldn’t’! I love that Jan’s writing took me to the edge in this way; that she creates a heroine whom you can’t fail to care for and understand, but who, like us all, is not flawless.
A fabulous first book in this series – I can’t wait to read the next one.
Flawless is available now from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.