Beauty by Louise Mensch

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I have read this book before, but I finished Slated on the train last night, and didn’t want to start something new, so I decided to reread this.

I have only read it once before, which is unusual for me, but I didn’t particularly enjoy it.

From the blurb:

“Blend it. Sculpt it. Shape it. Use it…

There isn’t a woman on earth who doesn’t have her beauty secrets. But for Dina Kane, beauty is more than just business. It’s power. And it is the secret. She’s dragged herself up from poverty to Park Avenue. She’s rolled with the punches. And she’s learned how to win.

Now someone is out to destroy her, and all she’s built. They’ve underestimated Dina Kane. She’s staying at the top – and she’s happy to wait for the perfect moment to exact her revenge…

As far as blurbs go this one is pretty misleading – 1. It’s not a secret that Dina comes from nothing. 2. I wouldn’t say she’s learnt to win – it seems like she gets slapped back down after each business venture. 3. Destroy what she’s built? She hasn’t built anything.  4. She’s nowhere near “the top” wherever that may be.

OK, I’m getting ahead of myself. Dina Kane was born to a working class family in Westchester (a poor area of New York?) who didn’t want her. Her father is a drunk and dies in a construction accident, her mother resents Dina’s beauty and lavishes all of her attention onto her brother Jonny.

Dina blackmails her mother into giving her some money for an apartment in the city after her mother refuses to help her go to university. **This really annoyed me – why didn’t she get a job to pay for university if she wanted to go? Or take out loans??

Once Dina gets to the city she gets a low paying job, somehow buys an apartment and “works” her way up from waitress to Beauty Director at a department store in a short period of time.

During a short stint as a coffee shop manager Dina starts to date a privileged student who assumes the name Edward Fielding (its really Johnson) to get her into bed for a bet. Dina becomes consumed with the need for revenge. Edward is a woman hating, entitled brat, and will not be made to look foolish by a mere female.

Later Dina becomes drawn to her mentor, the billionaire businessman Joel Gaines, but alas he is married.

Can Dina succeed, find love and get the better of her nemesis Edward? To be honest I really couldn’t care. In my honest opinion the last three books by this author (Mensch/ Bagshawe) have been tired, formulaic and incredibly disappointing.

Dina is very unlikeable. The leading man is pretty much the same guy from the last few books; he has muscles, he’s driven, he likes to eat steak, real women have curves… yada yada.

Dina is into beauty, which as a beauty blogger I appreciate, but too much time is spent talking about her makeup for that day. There seems to be nothing going on under the surface.  Edward the villain is a caricature. Worse than these things are the damn inconsistencies – I get really annoyed when things like character’s physical appearances have been changed between drafts, so that observations no longer make sense, and the editors don’t seem to pick up on it. The timeline doesn’t add up or make sense. Dina finds it incredibly easy to get mortgages despite having no savings or employment.

I really enjoyed Louise Bagshawe’s earlier books, but I don’t think I’ll be buying anything new she writes. She seems to have lost touch with her characters and audience. These hyper glamorous sex and scandal books are all style with no substance. I find it hard to connect with these downtrodden but fiery New York characters she keeps writing – they’re not believable to me. This may be because Bagshawe/Mensch is about as English as possible, and was a tory MP.

If you fancy reading some of her earlier work I would recommend Monday’s Child,  Tuesday’s Child and Venus Envy.

Toodles!

Stephani Xxx

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