Chicklit Club
 

ZOE MILLER

 

Someone New (2016)

 

As Grace breaks up with her steady accountant boyfriend, Gavin, a guy called Danny walks into her life. Though he doesn’t tell her much about his past, he is spontaneous and all about embracing the moment. Together they spent a magical time together until one night he goes out for takeaway and is involved in a fatal motorcycle accident. In her grief, Grace starts seeing his motorbike everywhere and receives other signs that make her wonder if Danny’s death was really an accident at all. This has a clever, nail-biting plot that leaves you guessing. The romance between Grace and Danny was beautiful and the story was also enhanced by the sub-plots involving Grace’s sister, Lucia, and her super-organised life and police officer Matt trying to fix his broken relationship. Totally hooked me in.


 

A Question of Betrayal (2015)

 

Carrie Cassidy is still reeling from the death of her parents five years ago, and finds herself unable to move on with her life or commit to boyfriend Mark. She receives a request from Luis, a famous Swiss musician, to come and see him. He tells her that her mother saved his life years ago in County Cork, and as Carrie begins to delve into the past she uncovers many mysteries that make her wonder if she knew her mother's past as well as she thought. This was another gripping read typical of Zoe Miller's style. The protagonist Carrie is at a standstill in her life, unable to move on from the deaths of her parents. She is very easy to empathise with, and I felt a connection with her from the outset. I liked how the plot switched from the past to the present, and the menacing nature of the past storyline especially made me eager to find out what had happened. Well written and very engaging, I'd highly recommend this. (LO)


 

A Husband's Confession (2014)

 

A deserted laneway. A hit-and-run accident. Two families will never be the same . . . Max and Ali Kennedy own a renowned artisan bakery in Dublin's creative quarter. Max has given Ali everything she ever wanted - marriage, children and security. Now, her biggest fear is that her precious family will be taken away from her. Across the city, Finn and Jo Kennedy live a life of responsibility and success - far removed from the carefree couple they were when they first met in Australia 20 years ago. But in the best of marriages, appearances can be deceiving. When a tragic accident befalls one of the families, a long-buried secret between the Kennedy brothers comes to the surface and a house of lies comes tumbling down. As the couples discover life-changing truths about their marriages, they must make a decision - to forgive, to forget or to move on? The stories of these two families, past and present, are beautifully woven together. The tension between Max and Finn is palpable, and their sibling rivalry is powerfully depicted. Zoe Miller is a master at capturing the intricacies and nuances of human relationships, and this book showcases that talent even more than her previous novels. It's definitely one to put on your reading list. (SBB)


 

The Compromise (2013)

 

Juliet, Rebecca and Rose have a close-knit friendship that spans decades. When Juliet dies under suspicious circumstances, Rebecca and Rose's lives are changed forever. Her death brings unwanted attention on Rose, who has secrets to hide, and her husband Matthew's fledgling political career has just gotten a lot more promising with Juliet out of the picture. Rebecca is worried about her troubled daughter Danielle, and as she discovers more about Juliet's death it becomes apparent that she didn't know her friend as well as she thought. This is a real page-turner, as you are thrust into the action from page one, when a passerby spots Juliet at the bottom of the cliff. As the story progresses, there is an underlying current of suspicion as there appear to be plenty of people with suitable motive for wanting Juliet out of the way, but I was kept guessing until the end. There are plenty of secrets revealed, fingers pointed and unpredictable twists which made this novel a very entertaining read. My only criticism is that the book is divided into two parts, with the first being from Juliet's point of view, and part two from Danielle's. I would have preferred part two to have been from Rose or Rebecca's point of view, since Danielle lived in Rome I felt she was a bit detached from the action and it would have been more interesting from a more central character's perspective. However that is just down to personal preference, and overall I really enjoyed this book. (LO)


 

A Family Scandal (2012)

 

It is 20 years since rock musician Zach Anderson mysteriously plunged to his death in a lake. When media interest in the incident is suddenly re-ignited, hidden tensions fracture the glamorous facade of the Morgan family, totally changing their lives. Ellie, Miranda and their half-sister Lucy, Zach Anderson's love child, find themselves in the harsh glare of the media spotlight once more. As cracks begin to show, beautiful fashion designer Ellie flees Dublin for the anonymity of New York. She has spent her life trying to forget Zach Anderson and his affair with her mother but she finds that however far you run, you can never truly escape the past. Meanwhile Miranda, desperate to spread her wings away from Zach's legacy and her successful sisters, reclaims her life in the vibrant city of Hong Kong. And in London, fashion model Lucy is full of unresolved questions about her father's death. When their mother falls seriously ill, the sisters are forced to return to Dublin. They must confront each other as well as their greatest fears. But what secrets are they hiding? Will their love for one another hold them together or tear them apart? The author vividly explores the complexity of family relationships - the roles people fall into or have forced upon them, the impact that the sense of who they are within the family has on their intimate relationships, and how present-day family problems can sometimes be traced to unresolved issues in the past. The strength in the book lies in how the author expertly creates a world of glamour, mystery and passion and matches it to heartfelt emotion and likeable characters who, behind their glossy veneers, face the same insecurities as everyone else. From the very first page, the story allows the reader to escape into a world of glitz and opulence married with intrigue, a world that becomes relatable due to the depth of feeling conveyed. As the book continues, the intrigue builds exponentially. What is the truth behind how the Morgans regard each other? Why does Lucy feel like she's being watched? And what really happened to Zach Anderson 20 years ago? The sizzle of sensuality in the characters' intimate lives provides the perfect undercurrent to the energy and pace of the story. The reader will travel with the Morgans to Dublin, London, Hong Kong and New York as the narrative progresses, and although we meet glamorous characters with thriving careers, the book also remains sensitive to the times we live in; we meet some who have fallen victim to the recession as well as those who appear to have the world at their feet. Zoe Miller is an author who consistently delivers, and A Family Scandal is no exception. A must-have for your holiday suitcase! (SBB)


 

Rival Passions (2011)

 

Twins Serena and Jack Devlin own the ultimate retreat for socialites and celebrities. Tamarisk Manor is a chic, five-star hotel nestled in the wooded hills of County Wicklow and is synonymous with serenity. But the Devlins' personal life is anything but tranquil, with Serena's obsessive commitment to the hotel taking a toll on her family life and Jack's struggle to cope with his wife's untimely death causing him to flee to their sister hotel in France. A chance encounter with Jenni in France turns his world upside down - but how will his new lease on life impact his responsibilities to the hotel and to Serena? As Serena works even harder to win the coveted Haven of the Year accolade for Tamarisk Manor, her marriage suffers more and more. Does the hotel mean more to Serena than her family, and conversely, is Jack willing to lose everything for love? Having read all of Zoe Miller's books, I had high expectations for Rival Passions - expectations that were far surpassed. This, for me, is her strongest book to date. Miller has always excelled at depicting realistic yet highly romantic and heartfelt relationships, but the relationship between Jack and Jenni is so powerful and beautiful that I could feel the connection between them fizzing off the pages. They intrigued me as a couple and I found myself fervently looking forward to every scene they would be in. (The fact that Jack was a scrumptious leading male character probably didn't hurt either.) The outcome of their relationship is unpredictable due to the nature of it, something that kept my interest high. Serena and her husband Paul's crumbling relationship also drew me in, and Serena's work-life balance dilemma is relatable territory. The sub-plots are also intriguing. I was particularly interested in how Serena's best friend Kim was infatuated with Jack and what the ramifications of this would be to Jack and Jenni's relationship. As for Jack and Serena's mother Charlotte and her past, I did feel that she gave herself rather too hard of a time; however, the author has written her story convincingly and I could accept Charlotte's rationale even if I didn't agree with it. As you might expect from a book of this title, there are quite a lot of intimate scenes. I personally think if an author is going to go down that route, they better get it right - something which Zoe Miller absolutely does. The intimacy in this book is woven into the story tastefully and non-gratuitously, and is definitely a vital component in conveying aspects of particular relationships in the book to full effect. There are also a few mysteries. Rival Passions is a book with many layers; on one level, the glamour of the locations and the lifestyles is sheer escapism, but on another, there's such a depth of common human emotions contained in the threads of the overall story that it's entirely accessible. There was such heart in this book that I've found myself thinking about it and smiling several times since I finished it. If you want a good, solid story with romance, glamour and deep emotion, don't miss Rival Passions. (SBB)


 

Sinful Deceptions (2010)

 

This tells the story of two sisters, Alix and Emma, who live under the shadow of secrets. Alix is a famous make-up artist based in Paris. Her life is a whirlwind of glamour and travel, and the launch of her signature brand of make-up is set to propel her straight to the top of the cosmetics industry. Her older sister Emma lives a life of domestic bliss with her husband and children in an affluent Dublin suburb ... or so it seems. But having a life where all the domestic boxes are ticked on the surface doesn't mean Emma feels appreciated and fulfilled. When she does something totally out of character that has the potential to destroy her family, her life becomes dominated by her deception. She's not alone - as the launch of Alix's cosmetics range approaches, a secret from her past starts to take control of her life and threatens to expose past betrayals. The sisters are about to find out how high a price a person has to pay for a mistake. This book is easy to engage with from page one. The descriptive and lyrical style of writing conjures up every scene to perfection, and despite the mistakes the characters have made, you'll be rooting for them all the way. It's escapism at its best, and is a perfect holiday read. (SBB)

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