Sunday, January 31, 2010

Review: Summer Blowout

Summer Blowout by Claire Cook
3.75 stars

Reasons for reading: caught my eye in the booksale; I later realized I'd enjoyed her Life's a Beach a few years ago

Synopsis: "Bella Shaughnessy is addicted to lipstick with names like My Chihuahua Bites and Kiss My Lips-an occupational hazard, since she works at Salon de Paolo, her family-run beauty salon, along with her four half-brothers and sisters. The owner is her father, Lucky Shaughnessy, a gregarious, three-times divorced charmer with Donald Trump hair who is obsessed with all things Italian. After Bella's own marriage flames out spectacularly when her half-sister runs off with her husband, Bella decides she has seen enough of the damage love can do. She makes a vow: no more men. But then Bella meets a cute entrepreneur, and despite their bickering, they can't seem to stay away from each other. A small, well-tressed dog also finds her way into Bella's life, and her heart, and she decides to chance that, too. When the whole clan heads to Atlanta for a big Southern wedding, sparks fly - in a summer blowout no one will ever forget."

First line: "Lipstick is my drug of choice."

Line I totally agree with! "You can tell a lot about a hotel by its bath products."

My thoughts: At first I thought all of the makeup references were going to force me to stop reading. The lipstick name thing is really cute, but Bella describes every person she comes across in terms of what foundation shade they'd wear. That got old. But I'm glad I kept on, as this was a pretty funny and entertaining book.

At first I also thought it was going to be another of those chick lit "Mama mia/faith and begorrah - I come from a huge Italian/Irish family!" things. Tired of those. But Cook twists it by making it an Irish family that wishes it was Italian! All of the kids have very Italian first names to go with their Shaughnessy surname. This is because their much-married father traveled to Italy with his first wife (Bella's mother) and fell in love with it. His attempts at speaking Italian and forcing his family to pretend they are are rather a hoot. And the family's intervention about his Trump hairstyle is worth the price of admission.

Bella comes off as a bit weird and quick-tempered, but in an endearing way. Sean Ryan the entrepreneur is a nice love interest and while I'm not always into the cutesy dog thing, Precious the identity-hidden Chihuahua adds some fun moments. Sean Ryan helps Bella develop a line of personalized beauty kits that, I have to say, I wish I could send away for! I need the help.

The verdict: A fun read and I think I'll be reading her next book, The Wildwater Walking Club.

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