Ambitious Daily Sentinel journalist Lauren King is chafing on LA’s vapid social circuit, reporting on glamorous A-list parties while sparring with her rival—the formidable, icy Catherine Ayers. Ayers is an ex-Washington political correspondent who suffered a humiliating fall from grace, and her acerbic, vicious tongue keeps everyone at bay. Everyone, that is, except knockabout Iowa girl King, who is undaunted, unimpressed and gives as good as she gets.
One night a curious story unfolds before their eyes: One business launch, 34 prostitutes and a pallet of missing pink champagne. Can the warring pair work together to unravel an incredible story? This is a lesbian fiction with more than a few mysterious twists.
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REVIEWED BY REBECCA
Lee Winter is an Australian writer and one of my goals has been to read, review, and promote more Australian women, as they often find it more difficult to get their work out there into the world than other writers. I'm glad I picked this book up -- for the most part, I quite enjoyed it.
I struggled with the opening chapters of the book and, at first, wondered if I was going to be able to finish it. Lauren didn't endear herself to me as a character, and I found the early anecdotes of her time at A-list LA parties unexciting because I personally don't take to those sorts of characters or situations. The early mystery involving a large group of prostitutes at a corporate event also seemed like a bland mystery to be investigating.
However, as I said, I ended up fairly engrossed as the story progressed. The 'Ice Queen' trope was well executed in the form of Catherine Ayers, the acerbic senior journalist mentoring Lauren with an awful lot of tough love. Ayers is intelligent, forthright, and apparently rather sexy. She challenges Lauren in a number of ways that are pivotal to the character development as well as the progression of the plot. The romantic subplot suited me just fine. There was enough between Lauren and Catherine to keep me cheering for them along the way, but as someone who isn't a huge fan of straight out romance novels (and I generally don't need/want explicit scenes in the books I read), it was just the right amount of flirting and connection.
There are hints of the "men are bad rapists" cliche that I've established previously as something I quite dislike in lesbian books (not because these things don't happen in the real world, but because it felt, for a while there, that every lesfic I read relied on women being sexually assaulted to propel the drama). I could handle the cliche more in this book than in others I've read though, because the threat didn't become a reality for the character involved and I could see that the author was establishing the courage and concern of the person who comes to her aid and stands up to the sleazy guys.
The story has been cleanly edited, I only spotted one typo/mistake, which is phenomenal in a novel-length work. Those pesky errors are very good at hiding, so the author and her editors did an amazing job producing such a crisp manuscript.
The strongest element of this book was definitely the writing. Winter's skill with language kept pulling me onward in those opening chapters I wasn't enjoying, and kept me interested until the final page, long after the plot and characters had convinced me it was an excellent novel. The various elements of the investigation into corruption and politics were effectively planned and executed, gradually unfolding as one would expect from a high quality mystery. A fine book, indeed.