Friday, 29 January 2010

Moonshine by Christina Jones

***1/2
I'm afraid I've maybe set up some of my favourite authors for a bit of a fall...maybe, I have such high expectations but I sooo looked forward to this and was a bit disappointed. (Sorry!)  I love Christina Jones and although I have a couple of her older ones to still read, the "Fiddlesticks/ Hazy Hassocks" magical series have been fabulous...although I thought the last one "Happy Birthday" was less sparkling!  I particularly loved Heaven Sent with YaYa and the fireworks, so I genuinely am a huge fan but dare I say it, it's all becoming a bit too formulaic - unloved woman, gets crazy new job, finds magical recipe, recipe has unexpected results and leads to finding gorgeous man who loves her instantly!  It's all a bit over used now and sadly the characters are becoming less interesting along the way...Cynical, moi?!!  Well, although in this one it's magical wine it lacks the fizz and sparkle of previous books.
Cleo, our heroine has recently divorced and is now living in a trailer.  She gets a new job as Mimi's PA, a posh title fo general dogsbody, but quickly becomes indispensible.  She finds old wine recipes stashed away from one of the trailer's previous owners, "Mad Molly" and she decides to try them for the Harvest do at the big house!  One night she falls over the delectable Dylan (the most beautiful boy in the world - yuk! How patronising? Do we want our heroes to be boys?!) Dylan helps her make the wine which involves trips through fairy glens and Lover's Cascade.  Sadly it takes her too long to catch on that he's actually Mimi's son and Lord of the Manor in waiting.  Once she does find out there's a fair bit of sparring between them about class and money, which is too painful and unneccessary to go into but Dylan ends up being an all round good egg with a social conscience.
Elvi, her teenage friend falls in love with Dylans younger brother Zeb, but for such a clever girl has a putridly limited vocabularly!  Yes, I know it's supposed to demonstrate how teens speak, but when written down it's just dire!  Got fed up of the pre-watershed use of "chaffing" too...if you want them to swear, I think we're grown up enough to accept it!  The wine (along with the interchangable Blackberry Blush/ Bush - proof reading errors again!) creates interest at the Harvest do and allows the teenage love to thrive.
Cleo is ever so slightly dull, this is further evidenced in that her best friend is Doll who was totally unmemorable in the Mitzi story! Dylan might be gorgeous but he disappears for large sections and the attempted last minute save of demonstrating Dylan's good works didn't really ring true. Sadly the whole thing felt a bit tired, twee and lacked the sly humour of previous books.
An extra half star because I love her earlier stuff and this had potential, but needs a massive injection of new ideas!