Monday, January 9, 2017

Review & Release Tour: Brake Failure by Alison Brodie

Title: Brake Failure
Author: Alison Failure
Genre/Age: Romantic Comedy/Adult
Series: None
Publisher: Self-published
Format: ebook via Author
Rating: ✺✺✺
SynopsisBRAKE FAILURE is a contemporary romance, with humour, suspense and a kick-ass heroine. The story is set in one of the most fascinating episodes in America's history: the months leading up to Y2K "melt-down".

“Is it too late to tell him you love him when you are looking down the barrel of his gun?”

An English debutante transforms from Miss-Perfectly-Correct to criminally insane as she breaks the bonds of her rigid upbringing. Sheriff Hank Gephart tries to reel her in - but she’s out of control and she’s not hitting the brakes.

What happened to the genteel lady in twin-set and pearls? And why did she shoot Mr Right?

Brake Failure is set in 1999 in the months leading up to Y2K “meltdown” when the US government was spending $150 billion preparing for Armageddon As Lionel Shriver says in her novel, We Have To Talk About Kevin: "1999, a year widely mooted beforehand as the end of the world."

‘I refuse to be ordinary!’ Ruby yelled. Remembering the lipstick she’d found in the glove compartment, she grabbed it and spread it over her lips, the car swerving as she tried to see her reflection in the rear-view mirror. Then she liberally sprayed herself with the perfume.

Loud and defiant, she sang along to the music: ‘You gotta whip it up and hit me like a ton of lead. If I blow my top will you let me go to your head-

A police motorbike slid past, lights flashing as the driver flagged her down.

‘Oh, no!’ she wailed. Her thoughts zigzagging desperately: what had she done wrong?

The policeman herded her onto the gravel verge then parked his motorbike at a distance and removed his helmet. Her stomach lurched. She’d seen enough movies of the Deep South to recognise this man as the archetypical law enforcer who stood over chain gangs. He was huge with a broken-nose and square jaw, his eyes hidden behind reflective sunglasses. He wore a stone-coloured short-sleeved shirt and brown trousers tucked into long boots.

He spoke into the radio at his shoulder, his sunglasses focussed on her licence plate. He was behaving as if she were armed and dangerous. Who was he talking to? Why was he taking so long? Was he trying to scare her? Well, it was certainly working: she was trembling from head to foot.

With a nod, he clicked the radio, and ambled over.

Ruby, realising the striptease music would give a bad impression, frantically sought to turn it off, trying buttons and switches, so when the policeman drew level, the windscreen wipers were thrashing, the hazard lights were flashing, and ZZ Top was still blaring.

He reached in a hand, slipped it under the steering wheel and there was instant silence. Abruptly, he swung away and sneezed.

‘Mighty strong perfume you’ve got there, ma’am.’ He rested his hands on her window sill, his biceps straining against the sleeves of his shirt. His head was shaven to a prickly stubble; a thin silver scar traced a path across his scalp. ‘Where you headin’?’

She was repulsed by those broad hairy hands that had taken possession of her car, angry that he had deliberately terrified her. She was tugged between fury and good manners. Good manners won. ‘Actually, I’m just out for a drive, officer.’

‘Yer English!’

Grinning, he removed his sunglasses, revealing sparkling blue eyes. The transformation was startling. She felt a strange fluttering in the pit of her stomach but just as quickly it was gone. Granddad had always warned her that policemen were thugs in uniform. Now, looking at the various weapons of subjugation on this man - gun, knife, handcuffs and baton - she could well believe it.

‘You on vacation?’ the policeman enquired.

She saw his metal star and his name tag: H. Gephart. The spade-shaped badges on both sleeves shouted: SHERIFF. ‘Yes,’ she lied, knowing he would be less inclined to harass her if he believed she was just here for a holiday.

‘We don’t get many English folk in Kansas.’

‘I can imagine,’ she said flatly.

He paused as if sensing her hostility, then pointed down the road. ‘I pulled you over to warn you the blacktop ends in two miles. Don’t want to be hitting rocks at eighty.’ He studied her thoughtfully. ‘Don’t know how you missed the sign.’ His gaze dropped to the seat beside her. ‘You bin drinking?’

Baffled, she turned to see what he was staring at. The tequila bottle. ‘That has nothing to do with me. I found it-’

‘Drinking and driving isn’t tolerated in this State, ma’am.’

‘I do not drink alcohol, officer.’ She saw his brow raised in disbelief and added crisply: ‘apart from a glass of Chablis. But I would never, ever touch anything like this!’ As she snatched up the bottle, it slipped through her fingers and flew out the window.

He looked at the bottle on the gravel. He looked at her. ‘Littering’s a two hundred dollar fine.’ He picked up the bottle and handed it back to her. There was pity in his eyes as he studied her lips. ‘The first step to having a drink problem is owning up to it.’

She was finding it very hard to remain polite. ‘Surely, officer, an empty bottle does not mean one has a drink problem?’

‘It does if you lose control of your vehicle.’ He jerked his chin. ‘You were swerving back there.’

‘I was applying lipstick.’

‘At eighty miles an hour?’

She’d heard his patronising tone and her fury exploded; but like steam escaping from a pressure-cooker valve it came out in a tiny hiss. ‘Fascist.’

He was no longer smiling, and his eyes - now a glacial blue - held on to hers like pincers. ‘Did you say something, ma’am?’

She gripped the tequila bottle as if it were his neck. He stared at her. She stared at him. And in that moment, something passed between them; it was as if each were saying: I don’t trust you, either.

‘Can I take a look at your driver’s licence?’ he asked.

She handed it over, relieved that she hadn’t yet changed her maiden name to her married name. There was no way he could trace her.

He studied it. ‘Okay, Miss Thompson. I’d advise you to turn your vehicle around, head back to where you’re staying and sober up.’ He walked to his motorbike, swung a leg over it and waited.

Knowing he was watching her, she attempted a smooth and competent U-turn and almost ended up in a ditch. As she drove away she could feel his eyes boring into the back of her head.

‘What a horrid creature,’ she muttered, thankful that she would never see the man again.

Alison Brodie is a Scot, with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side of the family.  Alison was a photographic model, modelling for a wide range of products, including Ducatti motorbikes and 7Up.  She was also the vampire in the Schweppes commercial. 

A disastrous modelling assignment in the Scottish Highlands gave Alison an idea for a story, which was to become Face to Face.  She wrote Face to Face as a hobby and then decided to send it off to see what would happen.  It was snapped up by Dinah Wiener, the first agent Alison sent it to.  Three weeks later, Alison signed a two-book deal with Hodder & Stoughton.  Subsequently, Face to Face was published in Germany and Holland.  It was widely reviewed, ie:  “Vain, but wildly funny leading lady.” -Scottish Daily Mail.  It was also chosen as Good Housekeeping’s “Pick of the Paperbacks.” 
Unfortunately, Alison then suffered from Second-Book Syndrome.  The publisher’s deadline loomed and she was terrified because she didn’t have an idea for a story!  She found the whole experience a nightmare; and this is why she cautions first-time authors to write more than one book before approaching an agent.  She managed to finish the book – Sweet Talk – but it bombed.

While writing Sweet Talk, she moved to Kansas and lived there for two years.  She loved the people, their friendliness, their free-and-easy way of life, the history and the BBQs!  Sadly, her visa ran out and she had to come back to the UK – although her dream is to one day live permanently in America.  Now, Alison lives in Biarritz, France.
Alison has taken the exhilarating steps to becoming an indie author.  Her second ebook, THE DOUBLE, is out on Amazon Kindle with some great reviews.  “Excellent.” –San Francisco Book Review.

Alison writes contemporary romance.  She aims for a strong plot line, set against the background of a world-changing event, coupled with touches of humour, sexual tension and character transformation.
She loves to hear from her readers.

Buy Links: Amazon.canada

**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for honest review.** 

This book was a hoot!

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When you've been in competition against your sister for your entire life, marry a man for convenience rather than love, and flee to the doctor for every little thing thinking the worst is happening to you... is it any wonder that one day you might just snap?

Ruby is tired of living in her sister's shadow and always being the butt of the joke. But when her husband-to-be has an opportunity to whisk her away to Paris, the city her sister has always dreamed about, Ruby is happy to flaunt her future destination.

Unfortunately, the move to Paris is contingent on Ruby's new husband, Edward, landing an advertising client that resides in the states. To do so, their trip to France is put on hold. Instead, they're on the way to Kansas City. And for Ruby, this is as far from ideal as it gets.

Soon, Ruby is making enemies with the Sheriff, friends with a strange mix of misfits, losing her husband to his secretary, and getting in deep with a seemingly perfect native. After dying her hair, breaking several laws, falling for the enemy, and discovering the truth about her dreamboat, Ruby somehow finds herself in the middle of a hostage situation.

No, I'm not kidding...

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This book was up and down for me. Mostly up, but I did have a few moments that made me go, hmm... Let's start with what I liked. The way the book was written allowed us to get a nice view of the story from all angles. We bounced between present day and the past until it met together at the end. Ruby's diary entries gave additional information about her days without bogging the timeline down. After I got a feel for the method of writing, it flowed smoothly.

I also laughed quite a bit while reading this book. Some of the antics were far-fetched but that's fiction for you! The characters were varied and entertaining. The pacing was pretty quick and there was never time to be bored with so much going on. The mystery was intriguing and lasted until the very end when everything is finally revealed.

Ruby, herself, was a pretty good character with lots of flaws to overcome. She undergoes an extensive character overhaul throughout the story and I can appreciate the struggles she goes through as her world turns inside out. 

I didn't, however, like her careless views on marriage. Even though she admits to being in a loveless marriage, she still married Edward and made a commitment to him. Then she puts herself into situations no respectable wife would in which men are kissing her and expecting more from their interactions. All of this happens before she ever learns of her husband's change of heart so I can't say that I felt a lot of sympathy for Ruby. I don't typically root for a cheater's happy ending (the husband included).

Putting that element aside, though, I was thoroughly entertained by this book. It was a quick read that I finished in a single bubble bath. It made me laugh, gasp, and smile.

In closing... 
A hilarious book with complex characters, romance, and rule breaking. Four suns!

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