Book Review: The Riviera by Karen Aldous

Title:  The Riviera
Author: Karen Aldous
Publisher: Carina UK
Publication Date: 10 July 2015
Twitter: @karenaldous_
I am very pleased to be today’s stop on the tour for the lovely Karen Aldous’ newly published book, The Riviera!

The journey is only as good as its end…

It’s been a hard journey, but Lizzie Lambert’s life is a Provençal dream come true. Her business is wildly successful, and with her little boy and the love of her life, Cal, she is making a beautiful home on the vineyard for their blended family.

But when Cal goes to America to support his son through a teenage crisis, it becomes clear the kid’s not the only one with some growing up to do: Cal’s glamorous ex-wife wants to get her claws in him again. As Cal spends longer and longer away, Lizzie wonders, was it all too good to be true?
Thank you to Carina UK and Netgalley for a providing a review copy of The Riviera.
The Riviera is the follow up to Aldous’ earlier book, The Vineyard. It is the continuing story of Lizzie and Cal. They are living in Cannes, France with Lizzie’s 3 year old son, Thierry. Lizzie is working at her cosmetic surgery salon and Cal is finishing off his new house. They are deeply in love, enjoying life together and everything seems perfect….
Life then throws a few obstacles in their direction, namely Cal’s family! His 16 year son Jack lives in Nantucket,USA with Cal’s ex-wife, Kelly, and he is having a very difficult time at school. Distance parenting is not an option on this occasion and Cal has to travel to the US to be there for Jack and to root out the cause of his unhappiness. Lizzie flies out to stay with Cal at his ex-wife’s beach house. She notices how much his ex-wife is around and when Lizzie has to return home, she becomes anxious at leaving Cal exposed to Kelly’s clutches!
The characters of Lizzie and Cal are familiar, having met them in the earlier book, The Vineyard. Karen Aldous has a great way of creating realistic and relatable characters. Both Cal and Lizzie are dedicated to being good parents and the author tells of the strong bond each character has with their respective children, something which can naturally get in the way of later relationships even if the children like and respect the new partner. Lizzie and Cal both met under difficult circumstances (see The Vineyard for further details) and Lizzie, particularly, remains wary, paranoid and untrusting. As such, when Cal has to spend an extended period in Nantucket with his son and overly-friendly ex-wife, Lizzie’s imagination starts to run haywire. The book keeps the reader wondering anxiously whether Cal and Lizzie can overcome their obstacles. Will this be the end for their relationship?
I must admit that whilst I liked both main characters, I found Lizzie’s overwhelming paranoia to be a bit wearing. She seems to carry around a deep-seated mistrust towards men (understandably given her past experience) and unfortunately this also colours her judgment towards Cal. Whilst it is apparent that she is concerned about Kelly’s intentions, rather than Cal’s own intentions, if I were Cal I would be worried that she must see his love for her as being quite weak if she were to truly believe that he would be prepared to leave her for his ex-wife. There is a lack of trust on her part which is concerning so early on in a relationship. However, I admit that this is a realistic (if somewhat exaggerated) reaction and it provides the basis for the mid-to-end of the story.
The story revolves around issues of relationships, family and, most importantly, trust. The relationships between the characters are severely tested whilst the reader waits impatiently to see whether those bonds have held fast, despite the obstacles thrown at them.
The settings in The Riviera – Cannes, on the French Riviera and Nantucket, USA – are fabulous and give the reader a taste of minor wealth and luxury, with beautiful with sandy beaches, sunshine and, in the case of Cannes, a handful of celebrities visiting for the annual Film Festival. I actually read The Rivierawhilst at my parent’s home in the South of France and, had I been there for longer, I probably would have driven around the coast to visit the area.
I enjoyed this book and thought it was a great holiday read – quick, easy and entertaining. Given the ending to the story, I predict that we will be reading more about Lizzie and Cal in the future!
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About the Author

Karen Aldous enjoys village life on the edge of the north-downs in Kent with easy access to the buzz of London. Not only does she love the passive pleasures of reading and writing, she also craves the more active pursuits with her family and friends such as walking, cycling and skiing especially when they involve food and wine!

Karen gets much of her inspiration from her travels and if she had to choose, France, Greece, Switzerland, Italy and Lake Tahoe in US would be her favourites. However, wherever she goes, she discovers a new character emerges in ‘Karen’s World’. She likes to write about strong independent women who can direct their own lives – but struggle to control them! And, of course there’s always a gorgeous hunk or two!

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