126. A Pretty Mess (Astonvale #1)- Carla Caruso


Title: A Pretty Mess (Astonvale #1)

Author: Carla Caruso

Rating: ★★

On the Shelves: Fiction> Contemporary/Romance


Sometimes, to come clean, you’ve got to get your hands dirty …

Celeste Pretty, a self-confessed neat freak, has found the job she was born to do: a professional organiser, de-cluttering people’s homes and workplaces. Her new business gets off to a cracking start when she lands her first client, health and fitness guru Natalia Samphire, in the well-heeled suburb of Astonvale. But things get messy at Natalia’s mansion when Celeste finds a blackmail note and other mysterious items. And then there’s Lenny Muscat, the sexy builder renovating the place, whose constant presence is muddling Celeste’s usually organised brain.

When things get decidedly suspicious at the mansion, she and Lenny have to team up to investigate. But will Celeste emerge with her heart and professional reputation unscathed?

This is the first in the Astonvale series (Goodreads 2014)

I first need to thank the author, Carla Caruso, and the publishers at Harper Collins Publishers Australia- and Netgalley, for allowing me access to this book in exchange for a free and honest review- apologies about the delay, real life has been chaotic!

I requested this book, not gonna lie, because it looked like a fun and sweet read with a hint of mystery, which has been just what I’ve wanted lately. I enjoyed this book, I really did. I do think it could have been better, which is why it is only getting three stars- but it was still a good and enjoyable read.

The story follows Celeste Pretty, who has recently started up her own independent business as an official “organiser”, with the help of a not-too-helpful assistant, nicknamed Flip- a family friend’s teenage daughter, and she has landed her first client, Natalia, a huge celebriity known for being a fitness guru. She is also trying to wrestle with a few personal demons surrounding her own family life at the time. Celeste clashes with a builder who is also working on the celebrities home, when they discover that the life of a fitness guru doesn’t come without a price to pay- someone is blackmailing Natalia.

I enjoyed the characters in this novel, and found them believable,I thought the exposition of the character backgrounds was well done and the chemistry between the two leads felt nice and not forced- which seems to be rare these days. At least, that is how I felt when I started it. Then I reached halfway. I wound up knocking a star for the amount of “clichés” in this book. There are a lot. Yes, some is cute and every “chick lit” book follows a bog standard formula, but it got to the point where I did begin to roll my eyes a little after the halfway point in the novel, just because everything that could happen, did happen and there didn’t seem to be much depth or reasoning to what happened – the novel started off well enough, well paced, well structured with just the right amount of tension but it fell down a little around halfway through.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a fun and light “chick lit” read, but I doubt I will be continuing with the series.


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