Monday, May 28, 2012

Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry

Why I read it: This book is Ms. Mayberry's first foray into self publishing and all those on her mailing list (of which I am one) received it free as a thank you for subscribing. Of course, the reason I'm a subscriber is I'm a fan of her work.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  She thinks he's stuffy. He thinks she's spoilt. Then the gloves come off and so do their clothes!

For six years Violet Sutcliffe has known that Martin St Clair is the wrong man for her best friend. He's stuffy, old before his time, conservative. He drives Violet nuts - and the feeling is entirely mutual. Then, out of nowhere, her friend walks out just weeks before her wedding to Martin, flying to Australia on a mission of self-discovery. Back in London, Violet finds herself feeling sorry for suddenly-single Martin. At least, she tells herself it's pity she feels. Then he comes calling one dark, stormy night and they discover that beneath their mutual dislike there lies a fiery sexual chemistry.

It's crazy and all-consuming - and utterly wrong. Because not only are they chalk and cheese, oil and water, but Martin once belonged to her best friend. A friend Violet is terrified of losing. What future can there be for a relationship with so many strikes against it?

This book is a spin off from Sarah Mayberry's Blaze novel,
Hot Island Nights. Both stories can be read in isolation and still make perfect sense.

What worked for me (and what didn't): In case readers here haven't noticed before, I tend to be long winded.  Never say in 10 words what you can say in 100!! :D  It is with something like awe then that I look upon category length or short books or novellas which tell a complete and engaging story in so few words.  Her Worst Best Mistake was just about 140 pages on my reader, so fairly short, but that just meant that there were no wasted words. I can't say that I thought it needed to be any longer - the story was complete and fulfilling just as it was. 

Violet and Martin get together fairly quickly in the book (something I'm a fan of) and there is very little conflict in their relationship when it's just themselves.  The main conflict was Violet's fear that she was not good enough for Martin and he would leave her when he realised that and, of course, Violet's guilt that she was shagging her best friend's ex-fiance.  That surely breaks the BFF Code of Conduct and Rules of Behaviour.  The level of conflict suited the story length and I happily kept turning the pages and read the whole thing in one sitting.

Violet as a character, is a breath of fresh air.  Yes, she has her secret fears and vulnerabilities, but she speaks her mind, takes care of herself and doesn't need a man to make her successful.  She's not pining away for Mr. Right.  She has a healthy and robust enjoyment of sex.  She dresses how she likes to - in short tight skirts and sexy stilettos but she falls short of being garish or brash.  

At the beginning of the story Martin is not terribly self aware, but his break with Elizabeth leads to him reassessing his life and his goals.  He's not desperately seeking to fit in anymore.  He becomes comfortable in his own skin.  The earlier Martin couldn't have coped with a relationship with Violet - she doesn't fit his heretofore "ideal" of wife material.  But, Martin has his own vulnerabilities too, a self-made man, he worked his way up from the lower working class and he's secretly not 100% certain he belongs in the upper echelons.  There is some irony in that he's secretly worried that he's not good enough for her.  He's a guy though, so he doesn't go round saying that.  But when she says to him:
“How could I possibly walk out on you, Martin? In what universe do you think I would be able to do that?” she said, her voice breaking.
he finally gets that she's all his and he is good enough. *sigh*

Martin, stuffy and repressed as he initially appears, turns out to be the perfect hero:
He was a good man. A real man. The kind who honored his commitments and did the right thing and stood up for what he believed in. He also cooked like a dream and fucked like a god and he made her feel important and sexy and special.

Isn't that every girl's dream?

The way Martin stands up for Violet to her father was very satisfying, as was the way they mutually took care of one another.  Martin chooses Violet over what he thought he wanted and at the end, Violet chooses Martin over all.  It really was lovely.

I thought I'd read the prequel(ish),  Hot Island Nights featuring Elizabeth and Nathan.  Turns out I'd read Island Heat instead.  So, Hot Island Nights is on my wishlist now - I want to find out what happened to Elizabeth when the door opened! :)

Also, I've just realised that the dress the cover model is wearing is the one Vi wears to the Savage Club banquet - how cool is that?!

What else? As I said above, this book is self published.  For a first effort in that realm, I have to say that I think Ms. Mayberry did a great job.  There are a couple of typos in the book, but nothing egregious and certainly not more than you'd see in a traditionally published book.  My copy was free so I feel churlish saying this, but pdf isn't a great format for ereading.  It doesn't reflow well when changing the font size and the native font was tiny tiny tiny.  Unfortunately, resizing to the next one up meant that there were some weird hieroglyphics in places - where words were missing or appeared to be typed over one another.  Read in it's native size (if you have good eyesight), it was lovely and all the words were there and well set out. So, I had to change the font from time to time because I didn't want to miss out on anything.   Having said that, I was invested enough that I did change the font back and forth so I didn't miss anything.  

Epub is a much better format for ereading because it reflows well when the font size is changed.  Pdf - not so much as (apparently) it is image based to fit a 1:1 ratio - when the screen is small (ie, not a laptop or PC), the font is often too small to read comfortably but it doesn't re-size very well.   But, this is Ms. Mayberry's very first self published book and there is a learning curve which is absolutely understandable.  I do hope she continues to self publish - overall, I'd say this was a polished first effort in self pubbing and, most importantly, the story was top notch.   (Who knows, maybe we'll get a full length novel from Ms. Mayberry one of these days - how good would that be?)

Grade:  B+

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