Amber Green Takes Manhattan – Rosie Nixon


BLURB: When her TV producer boyfriend Rob announces that he’s been offered a job in New York, filming with the infamous Angel Wear lingerie models, Amber knows its her perfect chance to take the New York fashion world by storm.

But Amber wasn’t counting on unruly toddler photo shoots, clandestine designer handbag scams and a Hollywood star who is determined to wear as little as possible on the red carpet. Until she meets a disgraced former designer who could turn her career around…or leave it all in tatters.

Fun, adventure, glamour and high-fashion make this is the perfect feel good women’s fiction read.

So, yes, shocker! Crimeworm has decided to take a break from all the murder-and-mayhem and relax into the enjoyable fun provided by Amber Green Takes Manhattan, follow-up to the highly successful The Stylist. Rosie Nixon, the author, is editor-in-chief at Hello! magazine (the sort of thing I like to find in the dentist. Or hairdresser’s.) Anyway, it’s pretty clear Rosie’s talents are wasted at the magazine and it’s sycophantic interviews with Spanish princesses, etc, as she’s a natural author of chick-lit.

Regular readers will know this isn’t a genre I read often, so I was somewhat dubious reviewing this book – I mean, what do I know about chick-lit? But really, all it had to do was keep me engrossed and turning the pages, and, boy! It certainly does that! I’m quite fond of fashion (handbags are my weakness; I don’t think many designers produce clothes that would fit my quarterback-style shoulders. A farmer’s daughter, indeed.) And it was the fashion aspect of the novel that persuaded me to read and review it for the Blog Tour.

This is the perfect time to release this kind of novel – it screams “beach read” (I’m not denigrating it: far from it; these books are hugely successful!) The storyline basically consists of Amber Green getting in lots of fashion-related scrapes, and escaping them with the help of hunky cameraman boyfriend Rob (with whom she moves to New York in the hope of getting some styling work), and best friend Vicky, who arrives for a break from her workaholic Hollywood director boyfriend Trey. A few serendipitous meetings, and Amber’s career looks like it’s heading in the right direction. Well, sort of…if you don’t count the shoot involving toddlers let loose in luxury Manhattan apartment, or the wild child client, with the sleazy manager, who thinks au naturale (or as close to it as possible) is this season’s look.

If you like the occasional lighter read, and enjoy fashion and celebrity-related stuff, then this book is the perfect holiday read for you. Slip it into your suitcase – or download it to your Kindle, and enjoy it by the pool, or on the beach, preferably accompanied by a very large pina colada – and a male model to rub the sun cream in. (We can dream, can’t we??!)

Highly recommended.

This book was provided to me by the publishers HQ in exchange for an honest review.

Guest Post by Caz Frear, author of Sweet Little Lies

Crime fiction tropes – are they friend or foe?

‘The word trope has come to be used for describing commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or clichés in creative works.’

So if we take ‘trope’ to mean an accepted crime genre rule, then who are we – certainly, who am I, a mere newbie– to question them? After all, formulaic crime fiction isn’t bad crime fiction. And If a reader is parting with their hard-earned cash, choosing your book over the multitude of others, surely the least they deserve is an adherence to the rules – a protagonist they respect, an interesting side-kick, a villain they can hiss at, a moral dilemma at the heart of the book, etc.

Well, in the main, yes, the reader has every right to expect this, and if you stray too far from what the reader expects, you’re in ‘acquired taste’ territory, not instant-bestseller land. Writing to cater to reader expectation isn’t unimaginative, I’d argue, it’s both respectful and shrewd, and it shows an appreciation of the utmost importance of the author-reader contract.

So the crime trope is our friend, basically. Tropes have been working fine since the days of Arthur Conan Doyle and they certainly didn’t harm Agatha Christie’s billion-plus book sales. No, it’s the trope’s wayward cousin we must be wary of.

I mean, of course, the cliché.

It’s often said that clichés exist for a reason, and it’s often because they are true. Personally, I don’t mind the occasional cliché. Clichés can be handy for immediately rooting the reader when you’re dealing with very minor characters who only take up a few lines (the brassy blonde, the smarmy estate agent, the ‘manic pixie dream girl’, as brilliantly coined by the film critic, Nathan Rabin.) However, when it comes to main characters and the main plot, crime clichés can be a killer (if you pardon the dreadful pun) yet we don’t always manage to avoid them. And I include myself whole-heartedly in this royal ‘we’ – I’m as guilty as as anyone. I even give a quick nod to the cliché in a scene from Sweet Little Lies – a conversation between Cat and DCI Steele.

“What I’m trying to tell you, Kinsella, is that you don’t have to become the dysfunctional cliché.” Steele holds her hand up, halts my obvious observation. “And yes, I know I’m sitting in this bloody office on Christmas morning, drinking cats-piss vodka like something out of a Raymond Chandler novel….”

It’s such a fine line to tread, making your characters familiar but not clichéd. I always thought that if I made authenticity my goal, I’d avoid the main pitfalls, but even this ended up confusing me. Why? Because, of all the detectives I met while researching the procedural elements of Sweet Little Lies, none – I repeat, NONE – had…

-A hugely dysfunctional home life. Sure, they all talked about making sacrifices and relying on the patience of their wonderful other halves, but there were no messy divorces to speak of – yet. No, ‘It’s me or the job’ ultimatums.
-A dark secret. Ok, so they were unlikely to spill their soul to me, but what I can say is that no one seemed outwardly ‘haunted’ or irreparably ‘damaged’, which is just how we like our fictional crime-fighters to be.
-A kamikaze maverick streak. With families to support and pensions never far from the mind, the do-or-die rebel is a very rare thing.
-An over-dependency on alcohol. It happens, of course, but not as much as crime fiction would have you believe, was the general gist.
-A serial killer with an obsession with them. Several would have loved this though!
-An encyclopedic knowledge of blues, jazz, country or classical music. Why do we love a muso detective so much? The most ardent music fan I found within my detective clique, “quite liked the Foo Fighters” and that was about it.

So if the authentic detective – the True Detective, if you like – is really is a home-loving, emotionally stable, rule-following, moderate-drinking, Foo Fighters’ fan, who isn’t currently on the radar of any dangerous sociopaths, as far as they’re aware, why don’t we write more books about them?

Because we love a crime trope, let’s admit it. And while it’s true that we crave fresh voices and different perspectives, and it’s important for us to feel enlightened in some way, challenged to a certain extent, essentially within genre fiction, we want to know what we’re getting.

Old stories told in new, exciting ways.

Thanks Caz! My review of Sweet Little Lies will be up shortly…