Ruby Mortimer-Smyth is an English debutante, destined for Ladies Day at Ascot and taking tea at The Savoy. She knows the etiquette for every occasion and her soufflés NEVER collapse.
She is in control of her life, tightly in control. Until fate dumps her down in … Kansas.
Ruby believes that life is like a car; common-sense keeps it on the road, passion sends it into a ditch. What she doesn’t know is, she’s on a collision course with Sheriff Hank Gephart. Sheriff Hank Gephart can judge a person. Miss Mortimer-Smyth might act like the Duchess of England but just under the surface there’s something bubbling, ready to explode. She’s reckless, and she’s heading for brake failure. And he’s not thinking about her car. With the Millennium approaching, Ruby gets caught up in the Y2K hysteria. She joins a group of Survivalists, who give her a gun and advise her to stockpile basic essentials, such as gasoline and water-purifying tablets. So she bulk-buys Perrier, Gentleman’s Relish and macaroons.
Ruby, far from home, is making Unsuitable Friends and “finding herself” for the first time. She falls in with a gang of Hells Angels and falls foul of the law. At every turn, she comes up hard against Sheriff Hank Gephart, whose blue eyes seem to look deep into her soul. She desperately wants him but knows she can never have him.
She’s angry at the emotions he arouses in her. Pushed to her limit, she bursts from her emotional straightjacket. As the clock strikes midnight of the new Millennium, she’s on a freight train with three million dollars, a bottle of Wild Turkey and a smoking gun.
What happened to Miss Prim-and-Proper? And why did she shoot Mr Right?
She got to her feet. Her knees were like jelly. It didn’t help that she was unaccustomed to wearing stilettos. As she wobbled ahead of him, her right ankle buckled beneath her. He gripped her elbow to steady her. This was done in a brotherly manner, but as far as she was concerned, he might as well have poured jet fuel to a smouldering match.
Ruby has her heart set on moving to Paris, and for once feels like she has the upper hand over her sister Claire who also desperately wanted to live there. So when husband Edward drops the news that his work is taking him to Kansas instead, she is more than a little disheartened.
However slowly but surely she starts to acclimatize to her new way of life and begins to find a new side to herself that she didn’t expect. Ruby manages to make new friends and find things to occupy her time, but also keeps finding herself in trouble with Sheriff Hank Gephart. Even though she has found herself firmly on his radar, it’s not just the misdemeanors bringing them together. Just as they start to admit that it could be something more Ruby finds herself involved in a bank robbery and Sheriff Gephart end up shot…
Brake Failure is set during the run up to the year 2000 but also has flash-forwards to after the New Year has rung in and you find out that Ruby has been involved in a bank robbery and Sheriff Gephart has been shot. I really loved this setting and the way the story unfolded because it kept you guessing as to what had happened.
Every time you made an assumption on how Ruby had managed to get herself into this situation, another piece of the puzzle would be revealed and throw you off track again. Her run-ins with Hank were another thing that really kept you gripped into the story; you never knew how they were going to react to each other next. Their relationship really kept you on the edge of your seat waiting to see if or when Ruby would go too far.
I loved Ruby as a character, how she goes from feeling never quite good enough to suddenly have people accept her for who she is, and is able to go a bit wild and find herself. Her spontaneity always made me laugh, especially because it always seemed to lead to some trouble or another; you could never guess what crazy situation she would get herself into next. Even though some of these things seemed so bizarre that they could almost border on ridiculous, I still always felt that she was a very realistic character.
The way she interacted with the other characters as well gave the story a very genuine backdrop. Particularly the relationship between her and her sister Claire, there was this constant battle of one-upmanship, always trying to do better than the other and Ruby always coming in a little behind. Whilst to the reader it was extremely amusing it also kept the story grounded, and added to the layers of mystery surrounding how Ruby ended up feeling so different from her family.
The only thing that I will make a little bit of a critical statement toward was the romantic relationship between Hank and Ruby, I feel like this could have been developed a little more. I don’t want to go too in depth because I might spoil it for other readers but there was another factor that kept Ruby from accepting her feelings, and then I felt that they kind of admitted that they both felt something and then the story finished.
I would have maybe liked for the other factor not to be so prominent and for them to admit to it a little sooner in the book, because then it wouldn’t feel a little rushed into at the end. I think that this is also because I loved the chemistry between Hank and Ruby and really looked forward to their scenes.
It is safe to say that if you like a funny and fast paced read, with spontaneous characters and a lot weird and wonderful goings on then Brake Failure is definitely for you. I would highly recommend it!
Now that that has whetted your appetite I’m also hosting another stop on the tour, on the 9th I’ll have a Q&A with Alison Brodie, so you’ve got that to look forward to. For now though why not enter the giveaway to win…
Alison Brodie is a Scot, with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side. Alison was a photographic model for a wide range of products, such as Ducatti motorbikes and 7Up. She was also the vampire in the Schweppes commercial.
A disastrous modelling assignment in the Scottish Highlands gave Alison an idea for her first romance novel, Face to Face. It was taken up by Dinah Wiener, the first agent Alison sent it to. Three weeks later, Alison signed a two-book deal with Hodder & Stoughton. Subsequently, Face to Face was published in English, German and Dutch, it was also chosen as Good Housekeeping’s “Pick of the Paperbacks”.
Unfortunately, Alison then suffered from Second-Book Syndrome. The publisher’s deadline loomed but Alison couldn’t think of a story! She found the whole experience a nightmare; and this is why she cautions first-time authors not to sign a multi-book deal unless they are prepared!
Alison lived in Kansas for two years. She loved the people, their friendliness, the history and the BBQs! Now, she lives in Biarritz, France with her rescue mutt, Bayley.
Thank you to the author and Neverland Blog Tours for the review copy of this book.