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Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Brat by Sherry Gloag

The Brat by Sherry Gloag
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (268 pgs)
Heat Level: sensual
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Lily

Gina Williams has a secret and prays it is buried with her childhood persecutor, Em Kouvaris, as discovery will ruin her reputation as a famous children’s author. She soon discovers the son, Ben Kouvaris, new owner of her publishing company, has uncovered her past and is making demands. Will he ruin her career if she doesn’t comply?

Ben Kouvaris is blown away by the unknown beauty at his estranged mother's funeral, and when his father demands he marry, immediately, to secure the family business, he knows just who he wants as his temporary bride. But can Ben persuade Gina to trust him?

A book that starts with a funeral is usually a story of murder or serious crime. But not in the case of “The Brat”. An evil old woman is being buried. She was a drunken, drugged ex-whore-house owner who wrecked one main character’s life with physical and mental cruelty, and the other’s with abandonment. But beautiful, traumatized Gina Williams hopes that with the old lady’s death, Gina’s secret is buried forever. At the funeral we also meet the other main character, Ben Kouvaris, and, although neither he nor Gina have ever met, there is a common denominator – the old prostitute they’re burying. Ben Kouvaris is the son the old woman gave away when he was just ten years old, and Gina is the child the old woman abused and bought from the child’s mother to train as a prostitute. Ben, who she knows exists, is number one on the list of people Gina never wants to meet; her real mother who sold her is the second. Little does she know that Ben has his eye on her.

This is a story that weaves an intricate plot of two strong-willed personalities who wend their bumpy way between the UK and Greece. They both share childhood trauma yet both have been strengthened by the experience – Gina vows that no-one will ever again control her and Ben is used to having his own way. The pair meets up when Gina discovers Ben is the new owner of her publishing house. She immediately tries to move publisher because, once he discovers who she really is, she knows Ben can destroy her career. And the web becomes more entangled when Ben is determined to marry Gina, even though he believes love cannot be trusted, whilst Gina is bent on never marrying anyone. Her plans are for a solitary life with a baby conceived by IVF.

Shocking in the way it portrays abuse during childhood, this is a story of learning not only to trust and share again, but also at coming to terms with yourself. And more, it is about forgiving. When Gina realizes that Ben has pierced her battered heart and that she is a passionate woman, or when demanding, ruthless Ben discovers he possesses qualities he never knew he had, such as caring, loyalty and even loving, the plot is pure heart-wrenching. Yet watch the sparks fly when Ben suggests that their marriage will be one of convenience only. The pace thunders along and at times the book is difficult to put down because the unexpected is always around the corner.

With such rounded characters that immediately earn the reader’s sympathy, there is very little to criticize in this almost flawless book but I did have a problem initially with the bewildering array of characters: PA’s galore, helpers, assistants, lawyers, family members, a stalker, and I had to return to the beginning more than once to check names. It also didn’t help that Gina writes under the pseudonym of George Williamson, but perhaps I should just pay more attention. Gina’s weeping and fainting is, at times, somewhat wearing but, given the circumstances, it’s understandable she needs to fight her demons.

Ms. Gloag’s writing is stylish, gentle (given the subject-matter), almost poetic at times and she manages to engage the reader’s emotions with apparently little effort. On the whole this is an enjoyable non-traditional romance that needs more than a little concentration, and the unexpected ending is pure delight – it makes you want to go back to the beginning and start again. It’s highly recommendable.