JUST BENEATH THE SURFACE by Rhonda Ramsey

underneathA marriage is supposed to be a happy one, full of laughter and spirit. It is supposed to be exciting yet mature, and responsible. This was not the case for Kendall. “Divorcing” a life from a long term partner and children, Kendall opted to separate and marry Spencer. She thought she would be happy…

This is a story told with deep emotion and by two ladies – Kendall, the mother and Diamond, the daughter. We see the inner turmoils of both women when Kendall’s transition from being unmarried to married becomes an obstacle for the whole family. Her son, Jules shows his own emotions by shouting it out whereas Diamond keeps it locked in, and then lets it out in an ugly outburst of men and sex.

Domestic violence is one of the main issues in the book and Rhonda uses her writing skills perfectly to convey the blows, throws and punches. The fear in Kendall is brilliantly portrayed as is her denial that her husband is not a wife beater and that he will not do it again. It had me shouting at the page, for Kendall to stop being stupid and to get out!

We see a teenage love problem from Diamond’s pov who falls victim of verbal bullying at her school. Named as an easy girl, she is called many things and becomes an outcast when her best friend leaves her. She becomes acquainted with an older man – her teaching assistant and falls into the trap of love, need and want but when her boyfriend gets too needy and begins to stalk her, she becomes alarmed but too ashamed to tell her parents.

Diamond’s call of distress is what brings Kendall to her senses but her problems don’t end there.

Rhonda’s writing is fresh and heart-tugging. Her scenes are vivid and the reader will feel every bash, slap, and punch as well as hurt, disbelief and hope. I applaud Rhonda for such a good, heart wrenching read!

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THE TWISTED VINE BY Alex Martin

THE TWISTED VINE – A REVIEW

Twisted  VineI love Twisted Vine for its great opening and I was thrown into the setting straight away. I reveled in the scenes of beautiful, suave France, of her vineyards, little cafes, picturesque views and delicate French accents.

Twisted Vine is about Roxanne who goes to France to get away from her undesirable life in London, leaving a father whom she never really connected with, to be looked after in a home. But this story is not about the father, not really.

We learn of Roxanne’s life as she travels up and down the country in search of vineyards for work, and as she does, she meets some good friends: Peter, Harry and Yvanne and she also meets a man who tries to take advantage of her.

For those who don’t know about the work of grape picking, this is a great book that takes you right to the centre of it. Alex Martin gives us a close insight of the harrows and the complaints. Then she takes away all that pain and brings us to glorious food and chatter among the grape pickers.

As there is a light side to the story, there is also a dark and sinister side. The story slowly unfolds and the reader comes upon a death, which saddened me. The mix of emotions play well with the mix of characters who are linked in one way or another.

The characterisation was blissfully uncomplicated and easy to follow. We don’t get to discover their backgrounds as much as I would have liked to, but perhaps that is a good thing – letting the focus stay on Roxanne and Armand, who bring the story full circle.

One scene that I loved was when Roxanne found peace and solitude at a convent. I felt the sheer happy but silent environment, and followed Roxanne’s thoughts throughout her stay there.

The pace of the story is just right and the reader glides into each chapters beautifully. Twisted Vine is the perfect name for such a story. There is romance and danger, a prefect recipe!