Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Oct 2017

Member Reviews

Oh I wanted to like this more. I read it in one day-that says something. Maybe for me lesbian romance and thrillers just don’t mix. I’m too romantic to watch everything crumble. She writes passion and heartbreak...dare I say...exquisitely. I’m a pre-programmed American I want that happy ending- at least when it comes to lesbian love stories. We spend so much time fighting that  in my dreamer liberal heart I want it to all turn out okay, even though, most of the time, it doesn’t. Life isn’t a fairytale, life isn’t perfect, maybe I just want my lesbian novels to be.
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This was a surprisingly enjoyable psychological thriller and considering it is a debut novel, I am really impressed. The author does a good job of flipping the story from one character to the other leaving you guessing who is the good and who is the evil when things go awry. I will be recommending this one to thriller fans and looking forward to more from Sarah Stovell.
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Exquisite is a compelling and suspenseful story of love and obsession. Bo and Alice meet at a writers course and their relationship quickly gets....strange. 
I liked the writing and this novel moved along quickly. The drawbacks for me were that the twist at the end didn’t surprise me, I saw it coming a long way off. I also think this book would have made a better short story than novel. Overall I liked it, but it’s just not my favorite.
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I'm clearly in the minority but...this didn't do it for me. 

Bo is a successful writer, with a loving family and a beautiful home. Alice is a young writer, with a dark past. They meet at a writer's retreat and instantly connect. What follows is ......kind of predictable?

I think that while some people found this exciting and full of psychological twists....I feel like I knew what was going on the entire time? Maybe I read too much. Still, the story moved quickly and Sarah Stovell knows how to write an engaging plot and I'm excited to watch what come next from her.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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So sorry I could not get very far with this book. The Kindle formatting was screwy and I just was not able to follow it the way I should. Also, the entire book was in italics- very off-putting. I have read many wonderful reviews from my blogger friends and this book seems to have garnered a lot of attention! Love the gorgeous cover and the title.
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Exquisite is a must read. It is sinister and terrifying and appalling. Sarah Stovell's writing is magnificent. It is like butter on bread. Her writing just flows so nicely. The plot was what made this a five star read for me. It was a page turning psychological thriller. I HAD to find out what happened next. I HAD to find out how this story ended. There was moments my jaw dropped. The characters were appalling, deeply damaged and complex. The characterization drove the plot. The end was so creepy. Whew. This was a good one. 

Thank you to Netgalley, Orenda Books and Sarah Stovell for the opportunity to read an advance readers copy of Exquisite.
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I’m not going to go into the plot too much in this review because I think the reader should go into it not knowing much.

The book start out when a well-known author meets a young woman at a writer’s conference. From there, the story is one of obsession and manipulation. But who is lying and who is manipulating who? There were times I wasn’t sure! This most definitely is not a romance or love story, not even a little bit. The chapters alternate between the two characters and an unnamed person in prison, who isn’t identified until the end. 

Readers who want a heart-pounding,  fast-paced mystery will be disappointed. But if you like a book that delves into the psyche of the characters and what drives and motivates them, then you’ll find this a satisfying read.

*thanks to NetGalley and Trafalgar Square Publishing for providing me with a copy of the book for review
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I went into this book completely blind so I had no idea what to expect.  I have seen some really good reviews and high praises for this book but at 42% in I have decided that I am not going to finish this book.  It simply just didn't work for me and I was more annoyed with it more than anything.  

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Sarah Stovell, and Trafalgar Square Publishing for providing me an ARC in exchange for a review.
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This book will keep you on your toes. I never knew what to expect next, but I knew that whatever happened, it was going to be gripping. I liked the way the author chose to show many different aspects of her character's lives so you had a better idea of who they were and learned more about them as the story progressed, but kept enough back that you still had to question who was at fault.

There are some unexpected twists near the end of this book and I felt like I was holding my breath waiting to see what would happen in the end. I wasn't completely satisfied with the ending, I wanted to know what happened next and you don't really get a solid resolution to the issues, but I suppose that was the author;s intent. One thing is for sure, I won't forget this book any time soon.

I'm looking forward to seeing what else this author comes up with. She's really good with suspense and creating believable characters that will haunt you long after you've finished the last page. Definitely recommend this book to others.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
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I have to say I didn't love this but I think it may not be the book's fault.  It's being described as suspenseful and as a thriller and it was neither of those.  The plot was slow to pull you along and I thought the alternating chapters of the two main characters was a bit tedious.  Honestly I wanted to DNF around 60% but, from the very first chapter you know someone is in prison, and my curiosity has been peaked enough that I did want to know which of the two main characters it was.  What the book did do very well was portray these ladies deep emotions and keep the plot outcome very carefully guarded with clever ambiguity.
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4 stars!  This was a highly addictive, fast paced and thrilling read.  I could not put this book down!

This disturbing and creepy story revolves around secrets, lies, obsession and manipulation.   Alice and Bo are the two main characters, one an aspiring author and the other a highly successful author.   They meet at a writing course retreat.   The story is told alternating between their two perspectives and I found myself equally intrigued within both storylines.  Each chapter uncovers a new hidden secret or lie which had me glued to the pages to figure out how the story would unfold. 

There were aspects of the plot that seemed slightly unrealistic, yet it didn’t bother me or take away from my enjoyment.  The story was told in a way that completely sucked me into the world of the characters and I fully enjoyed the setting and atmosphere of the book.

This was a Traveling Sister Read with Norma, Brenda, Kaceey, Susanne, Diane, Melissa and Linda.   Our reactions and opinions were of two opposite extremes which lead to some very interesting discussion!  

A big thank you to NetGalley, Trafalgar Square Publishing and Sarah Stovell for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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Excellent stalker/psychological thriller story with an unreliable narrator. I constantly kept guessing 'who done it' and flipping back and forth to the very end of the story.
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by Sarah Stovell

Trafalgar Square Publishing

Orenda Books
General Fiction (Adult) , Mystery & Thrillers

Pub Date 01 Oct 2017

I am reviewing a copy of Exquisite Through Orenda Books and Netgalley:

Bo Luxton has everything a heart could desire a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a bunch of bestselling books to her name.  

Alice Dark in contrast is an aspiring writer, who is drifting through life with a string of dead end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend.  When Bo and Alice meet at a writer’s retreat the Chemistry is immediate.

Soon Alice and Bo are emailing frequently.  The emails becoming more impassioned, revealing who Bo Really is sparking a dangerous relationship between Bo and Alice to begin.

Bo Luxton is married with kids, will she risk everything for an affair, or is this something more? Find out in Exquisite.

I give this book four out of five stars!

Happy Reading!
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This was OK not great!  The writing was OK and the "thriller" part was a bit lacking.  I was entertained and engaged through most of the book and felt like I did want to finish.

My thanks to netgalley and Orenda Books for this advanced readers copy.
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When love becomes an obsession...when promises turn to lies...and when hearts shatter.

Bo is a well-known author that hosts a writers’ workshop. A refreshing week away from the city for a group of aspiring writers to collaborate and learn from someone successful in the field.  

Alice is among the fortunate few to be included. Only in her mid-twenties, Alice already feels trapped in a life of dead-end jobs and boyfriends when she wins an opportunity to attend the workshop, all expenses paid.  

Bo is quickly drawn to Alice, seeing a younger version of herself in this young author. They develop a mentoring relationship that rapidly grows into more of a friendship. As the “friendship” progresses, red flags start popping up at an alarming rate. Manipulation vs misunderstanding.

Interspersed throughout the book is the voice of someone in prison, desperate to seek out and make amends. The identity of this prisoner is a mystery - and we are only left to guess. Is it Bo? Maybe Alice? Or perhaps there’s another player involved here who came between them?

This book is an extremely fast, easy read. I was quickly all-in and finished faster than I expected. There was absolutely no putting this book down. Another book where our opinions vastly differed.  Personally I stayed rooted in the "love it" camp! 

A traveling sister group read with Brenda, Norma, Lindsay, Susanne, Holly, Melissa, sister’s mom and Diane! (Whew! Hope I got everyone! This was a huge group read!)

Thank you to NetGalley, Orenda Books and Sarah Stovell for an ARC to review in exchange for an honest review.  

For this review and our full traveling sister review please visit Brenda and Norma's Fantastic Traveling Sister Book Blog http://www.twogirlslostinacouleereading.wordpress.com
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First things first, if critical reviews rub you the wrong way, you might want to bypass this one—it's not pretty or exquisite. *wink*

I’m honestly dumbfounded that Exquisite was categorized as a psychological thriller—or described as “startlingly original”—when there is a blatant lack of thrills, shock-and-awe or twists to get excited about. Personally, I would consider this to be more of a darker women’s fiction novel with a been-there, done-that narrative. I think we’ve all read some version of this story before. 

Reading—much like everything else in life—is subjective and nothing highlights that more than participating in a group read. Not only was I lucky enough to join the Traveling Sisters for this one, but I also had the chance to share this experience with another friend (I’m talking about you Melisa *enthusiastic wave*), who happened to be reading it at the same time. While it was a fun discussion, we couldn’t have been more divided on our thoughts and ratings. It’s not surprising my Negative Nancy persona chose to rear her judgmental head; let’s be honest, she makes an appearance quite frequently. Maybe, with time and exposure, I’ve set the bar too high or it could be the streak of great reads I’ve had lately, demanding I pay my dues with a dud. 

Almost immediately, I recognized that Sarah Stovell’s writing wasn’t what I typically prefer. I’m a reader that revels in the details—the depth of emotion, the inner workings of each character and most importantly, the motivating factor behind the why—while this author tended to gloss over things quite a bit. In a lot of instances, she opted to tell the reader how the characters were feeling, rather than enmeshing us in the nitty-gritty of it all, depriving us of the full experience. Isn’t that the joy of reading though—being able to see, feel and live through someone else’s eyes? Maybe my feelings stem from the fact that a good portion of the story is told through exchanged emails (which cuts down on the emotionality) and inner monologues, rather than shared dialogue. 

I won’t get into the minutiae of the plot here—as there aren’t a ton of surprises—except to say, this is the story of a well-known writer, who meets a young woman during a writer’s workshop and forms an instant connection. A connection that quickly morphs from mentor to declarations of love. Now, as a reader that frequently dabbles in romance, maybe I’m a bit jaded, but in my eyes, the only way to describe Bo and Alice’s ensuing relationship is insta-love. Cue the eye-rolling. Seriously though, how else would you categorize a relationship that heads in this direction after only a few days spent together and a string of vague emails? What about the fact that both women find themselves in other relationships . . . with men? In no way did I consider this to be sexy, alluring or passionate—all the things I felt the author was trying to sell me on. 

As for the rest of it, my lips are sealed. This overly-dramatized novel requires very little guesswork for the reader, so I wouldn’t want to give anything away. Keep in mind, this is simply my opinion—one reader who appears to be in the minority, as evidenced by the large number of positive reviews. If the synopsis grabs you, go for it. You never know, it might turn out to be a new favorite—for you.
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2.75 Stars* (rounded up)

Well, this one was a let-down ladies and gents and it was a book I went into having no idea what to expect.  You are going to see lots of rave reviews for “Exquisite” by Sarah Stovell but you are not going to get one from me.  And I’m not going to talk about the plot because I went into this blind and so should you.  That being said, WTH?  The characters in this book and the plot itself?  Well, it was a little whack, I’ll say that - but it just didn’t work.  Things moved way too fast for anything to be even remotely believable and nothing about it was exquisite in the least.  

Though this is coined as a psychological thriller there was no true build-up of suspense and I didn’t give a hoot about any of the characters.  Nothing about them seem real.  To quote my GR sister Lindsay, who came up with a phrase previously that I love - the “believability factor” for this novel was nil.  The characters walked around in crazed “stupor” most of the time, which make my eyes roll.  The schmaltz factor was at an all-time high.  In fact, each time I read something over the top, I saw the scene in my head from Moonstruck where Cher slapped Nicholas Cage and said “Snap Out of It!”  

However,  I will say that Ms. Stovell did in fact hold my interest and though I didn’t like the characters and my eyes rolled at almost everything I read, my attention held.  The book was a quick easy read and I couldn’t tear myself away from the schmaltz.  So while I can’t recommend this very highly, and don’t think it was all that thrilling, I get that other people may actually like high drama.   All I can say is that it didn’t quite work for me.

This was a Traveling Sister Read.  It included:  Brenda, Norma, Lindsay, Kaceey, Holly, Linda, Melissa & Diane.  We had a blast reading this one together.  The best part of reading this book was the fact that we were split on how we felt about it.  Some loved it and some did not.  It made for some great discussions and lots of shared adoration. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Trafalgar Square Publishing and Sarah Stovell for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Published on NetGalley, Goodreads, Amazon and Twitter on 10.12.17.
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This was a sisters read and the group was entrenched in to polar camps. Those of us, such as myself, who were having trouble relating to the book, did much eye rolling as we were reading. I mentioned at one point that the constant, I love you, I adore you, was curdling my stomach. I mean really, who talks like this in real life? If they did,couldn't you be tempted to run the other way. I would. Of course, for the story to progress, the other involved person answered in kind. Rather nauseating.

Anyway, this is just my opinion, there are many, many reviews out there from people who have much love for this book. Me? I found it over the top, over written and unbelievable. Other readers? That for you to judge for yourself.

ARC from Netgalley.
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Once you get past the ridiculously-named Bo Luxton and Alice Dark, EXQUISITE is... Well... Just as titled. Stovell's prose comes alive off the page, and the twisted relationship between the two women is compelling. I think it could've benefitted from a slight bit of editing as it became a bit repetitious, or perhaps mixing media a bit more (a la Dracula), but overall, it was an entertaining and well constructed novel with two fascinating and complex female characters. I'd love to see this adapted into a film, as I think it's one of the rare writings that could be even more interesting on screen.
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This weakness of mine for the unloved… it was probably pathological.”

This is a tricky, wonderfully dark read. It crawled in the beginning and I thought, ‘well this is going to be boring’ but then everything began to deteriorate in a good way. Bo Luxton has written best sellers but her talent is settling now. Living a charmed life with her husband and little girls in the Lake District, she is content if not feeling ‘to die for love’ for Gus well, she is living the life most people would give anything to have. She counts her many blessings, and loves nothing more than her young children. She is soothed by the nature of her surroundings (the mountains) sure of the idea the rest of the world is sick from being cut off from the natural world. Maybe all marriages become stale, it’s just the order of life. All she needs is her children and her beautiful world, away from the sickness of the city and human mess. She is about to attend a writer’s retreat, picking talent from a pile of hopefuls she comes across a disturbing story by aspiring author, Alice Dark. Entitled “Last Words” it tells a sinister tale, a relationship between it’s author and her dying mother, because surely something this intense has to be autobiography? Alice Dark becomes the chosen, creator of her favorite submission, and the meeting between the women takes place. The two are drawn to each other instantly.

Alice Dark is young, broke, living with feckless, useless boyfriends– her current, Jake. Jake, who refuses the ‘mainstream’ life, a talented artists making a living from his work but his talent can’t push him to thrive, and what once seemed like a promising relationship has expired.  Alice envies Bo Luxton’s “Lyrical Beauty”, where Alice’s writing is haunting and dark, Bo’s can only come from the angelic hands of ethereal talent. “Bo must write with feathers.” Alice and Bo are going to build a unique bond at the retreat, one that extends into emails back and forth and soon an invitation for a visit to Bo’s home. Both become too close for comfort.

This is a strangely complicated relationship the women form, dangerously intimate. Both are exquisite liars and truth tellers, chew on that! Each unravels in her own strange way, both cling to each other but for different reasons. Bo seems to both test her feelings for Alice and deny them, Alice is a wreck pulled this way and that by her emotions and Bo’s attention that seems to wax and wane. One moment their intimacy is raw, the next there is a feeling of indifference. Alice’s stays are more frequent, she wants nothing more than to see Bo happy. But is she seeing too much into their friendship? Does Alice just want a mother that will nurture her, heal the rotting wounds her own mother left? What is Bo getting out of this, is it Alice’s youth, thinking she can feel electric again, that some of Alice’s freedom and wild spirit will rub off on her?

Do we really know what the heck is going on? Who is the prisoner that speaks at the start of the novel? Why is Bo such a champion for young talent? What happened in her past, with another student? Both women are damaged, but who is ripe for destruction? Why won’t Bo ‘pick over old memories’, just what happened in her untouchable past? Why does she collect damaged people, ‘waifs and strays‘, as her husband Gus calls them? Why is Gus warning her to “be careful this time” ? What happened with her own mother, what was so bad that she assures herself she is nothing like her ? Is that why Alice’s story touched a nerve with her? Could the bond be created on the backs of terrible mothers?

The hunger is why things move so fast between the women, the hungry need. Both are empty for reasons we half understand, picking over the wreckage of their pasts, trying to find something solid and vibrant in the now. In Bo’s mind, Alice is ‘fragile’, ‘artless’ and only Bo can untangle her rotten past. It’s all about winning her confidence, taking her under her wing, and in doing so- Alice feels her real life has just begun. Has it?

The reader is on unstable ground, as much as the minds telling the story are unstable. How can a story be tender and brutal at the same time? It’s a mess, you go from passion to hatred, seeing vulnerability as necessary to regretting your character being careless and unguarded. At the end, everything happens fast and my my, strange to think exposure can be a relief to someone fueled by manipulation… but who? You have to read. This is one of those novels where if you dip too much into the review you ruin the shock of it. I liked it far more than I expected, because what is more dangerous and painful than trust and vulnerability?

Available Now (published October 1, 2017)

Trafalgar Square Publishing

Orenda Books
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