Once again, I am unsure if it is the right thing to do to post a book review. When I began reviewing self published books, I thought it would be easy to find many with great worth and merit. The authors I had read previously were wonderful and talented, authors who I wondered why they did not have a publishing contract. I assumed many self published authors would have quality product which simply was considered unsellable for one reason or another. Maybe they wouldn’t stick out in the market, or they fit into a niche that was currently over saturated. Maybe they just gave up before they found the right agent.
These last two, have broken my spirit a little. It is beginning to make me want to abandon this foolish plan. I hate to agree with whoever turned these people down (since that might mean conceding ground to those who turn me down) but I can see the problems. Please be aware, this particular review is full of spoilers. I don’t actually recommend this book, but if you plan to read it, you may want to wait to read this.
When I selected High Heels in NYC by A.V. Scott, I was torn between fear and hope. There was a disclaimer stating that many reviews were for a previous edition, and the current edition had been heavily edited. I was honestly afraid for the state of the previous edition by about the third chapter. I was aware this was a series book, but I have neglected to finish series before, so I was not worried about that.
When I began reading, I was first struck by the similarities between this story and another series. Both began with a shoe designer, worried she was pregnant by her boyfriend when she did not wish to be, with a promiscuous actress as a best friend, and both discover the boyfriend was up to no good. This is where the similarities end. While one story joins everyone at the beginning, struggling to find success and frequently broke, this book had wealthy and decently successful people.
One of the first major problems I had was a problem of perspective. The author did not seem to know what story they wanted to tell. One chapter would be in the first person with the shoe designer, Melissa Del La Rosa, followed by a chapter in the third person about Melissa’s best friend Angelina Stevens, or Angie, the promiscuous movie star with a career that has seen better days. This change in perspective was slightly jarring, and disrupted the flow of the book. I’m not always fond of books told in the first person who change voices; switching from first to third and back didn’t make sense and was infinitely worse.
The second large problem had to do with content. There were so many things going on in this story, it was hard to figure out what exactly the point was. Who is trying to solve the mysteries? It is kind of a staple of the mystery genre to have the hero or heroine of the story doing something to figure out what is going on. I think I was the only one trying to figure anything out here. There was so much in this book, so many details that didn’t seem to serve a real purpose. It was as though the mystery was the red herring, the distraction from the soap opera like drama. Let me explain a little more.
As the book begins, Melissa is running late to meet her friend for lunch, and worried. She has taken many, many pregnancy tests, all saying she has a baby coming. She is from a well off family, waiting for her first foray into New York Fashion Week, and has a loving fiancé who would be thrilled to have a child. Angie is waiting for her at the restaurant, watching a younger version of herself flirting with the producer of the movie she had thought could be her comeback as a sexy leading lady. After lunch, they are walking and spot Melissa’s fiancé in a restaurant with a model, Valerie, a bag from Tiffany’s on the table and giving her a kiss. Melissa makes a scene, storms out, and ends up in the hospital for a hurt ankle. While there, Angie finds out about the baby.
Melissa and Angie get in a large fight; Melissa is considering abortion and Angie is against it. They then do not speak from chapter 5, until chapter 17. According to my kindle calculator, that is 40% of the book where the two main characters are living separate lives.
During this time, Melissa learns there is some sort of an investing scandal her ex is involved in, apparently taking millions from many influential people. Melissa goes out drinking heavily with her assistant, in spite of her belief that she is pregnant, and her indecision as to what she wants to do. I have to admit, that part bothered me a lot. Yes, she was considering abortion, but if her mind was not made up, she should have acted a little more responsibly. Melissa also continues to get ready for her fashion week show, and finds out her sister is planning to get married. Naturally, her sister expects her tell their parents and do all the wedding planning, so Melissa agrees.
Meanwhile, Angie is sleeping with a young stud she met at the gym who thinks he may have real loving feelings for her. She has decided to go looking for her long lost family, and learned she has a sister, who just so happens to be Valerie, the model who was with her friends fiancé. Angie also gets a minor role in the film she wanted, and ends up coaching the irritating little version of herself who took the role she wanted. Almost 60% through the book, Angie’s agent is murdered, and the love of her life shows up.
Right as the two are about to reconcile, Melissa finds out the money she thought was safe from her ex has been drained. She throws herself into her work, trying to deal with news from her doctor, and her desperate need for money. She faints, and is rushed to the hospital, where her Emergency Contact, Angie is called. Now, 65% through the book, we find out she was never pregnant. She had ovarian cancer, and had half of her reproductive organs removed. I was slightly confused by this; I had heard of cancer giving symptoms women had mistaken for pregnancy, but never heard of a positive pregnancy test revealing cancer. Apparently, it IS a thing.
We are now over halfway through the book, and nothing has been done to look for the thieving ex, and a murder has only just happened. A police officer has shown up, but we don’t know that’s who he is until the next chapter when Melissa returns home from the hospital to discover she has been robbed. Miraculously, they find the date book of the ex, which seems to be filled with cryptic codes. With not much thought, Melissa turns the book over to a police officer. She makes no effort to solve the mystery, as is expected in chick lit mysteries.
Angie goes back to work on her movie, where the love of her life is in charge of the horses on set. An accident gets the star of the movie hurt, and naturally, Angie is asked to move into the role. This twit of a star happens to be Valerie the sister’s adopted daughter, and the biological daughter of Angie and the long lost love. To make their relationships even more complicated, the mutual daughter is now engaged to the young stud Angie was sleeping with at the beginning of the book. I’m sure there will be NO awkward family dinners here.
Melissa goes to her parents house to deal with her sister’s wedding issues, and is informed that her parents are going to sell her condo in New York. They are having money problems, and they think her life is an embarrassment, so they are shipping her off to run a business of theirs in Mexico. Apparently they do not care about her feelings, and she just accepts them treating her like a disobedient child. Her only request is to let her finish fashion week, and try to make her shoe designing work. The show is a disaster, and Melissa prepares to be shipped off as the family shame. On her way out, she stops to deliver the only shoe order she had from her show, to Valerie the sister, only to discover her body in her apartment. Melissa walks out, not saying anything to anyone and goes to the airport to catch her plane to Mexico. The police catch up with her at the ticket counter and tell her she is under arrest.
Yes, that is right. The end. The only story they managed conclude in the 209 pages was who Angie’s long lost family was. You don’t learn what happened to the fiancé, the agent, or the sister. These people are just gone. It is book 1, but as of right now, book 2 was not available. I’m not sure where they are going with series, but it is entirely possible they could have thrown in another hundred or so pages and finished everything quickly and easily.
The cliffhanger was irritating enough, but the hardest thing to deal with was the many, many, many, many side stories. There were more side stories than actual stories. As a writer, you are supposed to be brutal with your editing. It’s hard for all of us to take that pen, or that delete button, and cut things we put in our stories. Obviously, if something is there, we had a reason for it. But that doesn’t change the truth; every unnecessary word must go. A.V. Scott needed to be much more unkind to her own work, and cut the extra crap out. This book was two stories, and should have been done as two separate books. Book one, the designer with the ex who takes off with all her money while she thinks she is pregnant. The designer than looks for him, determined to find her money and get her life together for the sake of her baby. In book two, an aging actress looks for her family trying to find love and connections as she works to put life back into her career. Tragedy strikes the daughter she put up for adoption, forcing her to reveal her true identity and bringing everyone onto a happy little reunion.
Both decent book concepts for their respective genres. Neither would have the additional bogged down feeling this book had, and both would have a conclusion.
I’m not certain what the errors were that were corrected from the first to the second edition, but I think there is still work that could be done. Of course I might feel a little better if I had been able to have an end to comfort me. I can only guess that these two stories will connect completely at some point, but I have no idea how yet.
I cannot recommend this book right now. Maybe it will be better when the follow up arrives. For now, I have to give this book, one roadmap to explain the relationships, and a vibrator so you can finish yourself off. The book sure as hell isn’t going to do it for you.
As always, these opinions are my own, and no one else’s. The characters and plot, are not mine, and belong solely to the author A.V.Scott. No one paid me to say anything for my commentary on this book, either positive or negative. While I enjoy rave reviews, they cannot be authentic if I never say anything unkind when it is warranted. I do apologize for any hurt feelings this may cause anyone. My opinions are not meant to discourage a person from following their dreams. I hope any negative critique can be taken as advice to improve their book. As usual, I encourage people to not consider suing me for my opinions. I am entitled to them, just as you are entitled to hate what I have to say. Suing me would not get you very far, as I am protected under free speech, and I have nothing worth taking anyway.
With all of that said, I am always looking for new self-published or first novels for review. If the book is a diamond in the rough, I would love to help in anyway possible. As long as authors are willing to risk my review process, I am happy accept suggestions for new books and share my opinions.