SHORT & SWEET REVIEW: THE GOOD LIFE BY MARTINA COLE

Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet). 

This is the first book I’ve read by Martina Cole, even though she has 21 titles and more than 13 million copies sold to her name. I was sent this by the publisher and bumped it forward on the recommendation of a reader. Here’s the blurb:

Cain Moran wanted Jenny Riley more than he had ever wanted anyone or anything before in his life. But loving Jenny Riley was the easy part; it was telling his wife he wanted a divorce that was going to be the killer… Jenny is not just any girl. She cares nothing for Cain’s hard-man reputation – she just wants to be with him. But Cain is not a free man. And he’s about to find out that when his wife Caroline said ’til death us do part, she meant it. When Cain is sentenced to life in prison it seems that Caroline might have got her wish. All Cain and Jenny know is that if their love can survive such separation, then one day they will have a chance at the Good Life together again. But there are greater trials ahead than either can foresee. They’re about to learn the hardest lesson of all: Live the Good Life – Pay the Price.

There are plenty of characters to dislike in The Good Life for Cole sets the bulk of this novel in the crime world, where people will do what it takes to get to, and stay on, the top. This is a world where the C word is commonplace, bodies are crushed in cars, revenge killings are expected, angry women beat each other viciously, and no one ever really relaxes. Jenny Riley is a naive teenager when the book starts, but will that sweet naivety last forever? Cain and Jenny pay a heavy price for their love, as well as Cain’s determination to retain power despite a long-term jail sentence.

The story is gritty, fast-paced and plot-driven. Little time is given to exploring the characters’ emotions during some difficult experiences, but that fits with the “harden up, princess” mantra that pervades the lifestyle. There’s no room for weakness and the writing has a hard edge that aptly reflects that. Short chapters and big skips in time move the story along, making it a read that’s hard to set aside because you want to know what happens next. And then, there’s the fact that it’s not a world I felt comfortable in (or characters I really wanted to hang out with), so I wanted to get to the conclusion and return to my vanilla (I love vanilla) existence.

I’d be interested in reading more from Cole – I think I’ll start with some of her early novels. This one will appeal to thriller/crime readers who like anti-hero types.

Available from good bookstores (RRP $29.99). My copy was courtesy of Hachette.