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6th March 2015 – Book Review and Excerpt : Beauty and the Bridesmaid by Lisa Souza

beauty and the bridesmaid

Dear readers I am back again after a long hiatus to write another book review for a book from that very, entertaining and mostly ‘pink’ genre that is lovingly termed chick lit.

And what a great book to do it with. Yes ‘Beauty and the Bridesmaid is Lisa’s first book and I certainly hope that it is not her last. It would be unfair to merely term this book ‘Chick Lit’ as it is much more than that. The book is about Dorothy AKA ‘Dot’ who is an ugly duckling who never quite turned into a swan. Overweight Dorothy has always been the bridesmaid and never the bride, even playing bridesmaid at her own mother’s wedding which proves to be a turning point for her, when she meets the very camp and very gay image consultant Kennedy J.

After enduring several wedding playing the bridesmaid and a dating self help group, software tester Dot finally has had enough and fed up of being the fat and plain girl, decides to change her image entirely. The make over advice is offered free by Kennedy J which Dot gladly accepts, especially since she has recently discovered that the very handsome blast from her high school past John Miller works at her company Microcosm, and she definitely wants to catch his eye! After undergoing nips, tucks, sadistic workouts, hair and make up overhauls and the like all of which are very graphically discussed in the novel with no rosy before and after scene with the bits in the middle edited out, the newly emerged plastic surgery swan Dot re-christens herself ‘Alana’ and prepares for her new life as a pretty girl. What follows is the story of Dot/Alana’s new life and the twists and turns it brings after her transformation.

The book is very well written is and is at times quite dark with serious themes, so it is not quintessential, fluffy pink material.

Spoiler Alert – serious topics such as rape and death have also been dealt with here, under the guise of this book being chick lit, however this is in no way a criticism of the novel as the author uses a light hearted tone throughout the novel and keeps the reader entertained and engrossed.

Due to her new transformation, Alana/Dot gets plenty of attention, even from the hotter than hot John Miller, who always thought plain and fat Dorothy Lindell was beneath him. Thanks to her new transformation, he does not recognise her and is keen to make her his girlfriend. Enter the odious Jack Weston, John’s best friend and the high school bully who always went out of his way to be especially rude and despicable to Dot. Jack has a dark and sinister secret and some terrifying habits which he is unable to break and which are about to have a very, very detrimental effect on Alana/Dot’s life.

The book light heartedly looks at important relationships and how these can also be fickle and unreliable. People in Dot’s life, that are constantly letting her down. Her own mother is not the kind of caring mother that a girl such as Dot needs, she comes across as very self obsessed and vain. The reader feels for her, when she comes back pain-ridden from her various nips and tucks and the only person there to help her is her reluctant colleague from work who is filled with embarrassment at being roped in to do the several personal tasks Dot needs help with. Help comes from an unlikely source, as Elvira the goth girl from the dating self help group becomes Dot’s carer and confidante and soon becomes a genuine friend. Elviran also has a sinister connection with Jack Weston, which forms one of the key elements of this story.

Without giving too much away, I would urge everyone to read this book, not just fans of the chick lit genre, as it light heartedly looks as several key themes and issues. I read this book in one sitting and was up in the wee hours finishing it.

I read with mixed emotions, anger and frustration at Dot’s mother and so called friends for not standing by her or helping her see what an intelligent and good person she was, cheering her on for her courage to go through the nips, tucks and pain to get the face and body she wanted, rooting for her when she finally gets her man, the high school stud John and sighing with relief when he does not turn out to be the self centred egoistical jerk that she thought he was, feeling her pain and disillusionment when life lets her down and things don’t go as planned and feeling ecstatic when she finds out that her cloud did have a silver lining after all and alls well that ends well.

The author’s story and writing flows and this is an excellent first novel. I do hope that Lisa keeps writing fabulous novels with great themes and story lines such as this one.

The book is available at Amazon and is published by West Coast Media.

Below is an excerpt from the novel, to give you a taste of how great this book is!

John Miller. You rang?” He towers over my desk, and my girl brain does the math, pegs him for maybe six one or so. His name rings a bell somewhere far in the back of my mind. Sparks fly as he brushes the clutter from my desk and ravishes me right there, amid the monitors. I kid, I kid. I shake his hand and scootch my chair over, waving at a similar one stashed next to the wall. With some difficulty he wedges the other chair in and we get right down to it, the business of debugging.

Developers don’t make me nervous as a general rule and few resemble George Clooney. Okay they never do. They look like Bill Gates or Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons: they have bad hair cuts, and questionable hygiene. They hug themselves, and rock back and forth. They wear ugly shoes and are significantly overweight. And most are super bright, very competent types. Wait…I just described myself. Maybe I should consider a move into development? What little I can make out of jMiller, however, breaks the mold. At least as far as I can discern in the eerie glow of a computer monitor. He also looks vaguely familiar, like I know him. Miller’s a common name… “Didn’t mean to freak you.” I inhale deeply, trying to re-oxygenate my tired mind. That proves a big mistake. A whisper of some very male cologne tickles my tired nose and slams into a weakened side of my brain, practically knocking me from the chair. Holy cow he smells good. “You just caught me off guard, is all. Sorry to hassle you at this

hour, but Greg says anything that crashes the build – ”“I know, I know. ‘When you crashes da build, you misses da milestone.’ Greg thinks he’s quite the wit.” He grins, flashing movie star teeth. “Stupid catchphrase has been burned into my brain. It’s like that Head-On commercial where they just bore it into you. I could slap the crap out of him.” His eyes skim over the monitor. “Don’t sweat it. I have a pretty good idea where it failed. That jackass Samir probably forgot to rename his module to the new naming specs, so when I instance it here – ” he points at a line on the screen, “I’m doomed.” “Doomed!” I chime in. Too tempting. Can’t be helped. It cried out for repetition. “Doomed!” He quickly follows up. We grin at each other and he shows off the superstar smile again, teeth gleaming in the dark. And again, familiar. Some dim, lizard part of my brain recognizes him. With those teeth, maybe he’s done a TV commercial. He types furiously for a few minutes then hesitates. “Do you have source control on

this machine?” I get up to stretch. If he didn’t smell so fabulous, I’d collapse for certain, but now I have a mini adrenaline rush. “I have Source Safe but I don’t have security access to do check-ins.” He nods, and net connects to his machine, stops, looks up again, “You don’t mind me using your machine? Saves me running over to another building.” “Heck no. I’ve just been sitting too long.” He glances over at the romance novel cracked open on the desk and smiles at the monitor. “Power reading?” I grimace. “Don’t start with me. This test has been running since… well since forever. Pay me overtime or let me read my trashy romance in peace.” “As you wish, sis.” He returns his attention to the issue at hand. The two fingered typing style works for him: his hands fly over the keys. “So easy. Seconds to compile…and done. I’ll just check this in. I’ll log it so Greg doesn’t blow a hemorrhoid.” He stretches. Fun to watch. I sense the presence of many muscles, so foreignto computer scientists. And to me personally. “I better phone Jaime to restart the build,” he says. I stare at his shoes, as that is a safe place to look. Converse. Basic white. Old school. “He’s going to kill you, you know.” I caution. “Oh no doubt, no doubt.” He gets to his feet and the light from the hall illuminates him fully. I risk looking up. “But we’ve enjoyed our little midnight romp long enough. When I call Jaime, I’ll redirect responsibility on Samir. He will in turn, point at Raul for changing the naming conventions midway through a project build. I will be the genius who averted disaster.” He closes his eyes briefly, lowering the high beams. “You may as well head home. You can’t retest till the next build.” That clinched it. I know him, all right. I swallow hard, shake my head slowly. “No bus at this hour. I’ll crash here.” “Poor transportation choice. Stay and Greg will have you rerunning the entire regression test in a couple of hours. Think this through.”

I try and smile sadly. “The trials of a software tester. I knew I should have stuck with my first career choice: high priced hooker.” He snorts a laugh. Oh, the things which emerge from my mouth when I’m nervous. “You need a ride? I can give you a lift.” My quota of stupid comments is not quite up. What comes out is, “That’s nice of you, but I live clear out in Monroe.” “That’s not a drive. That’s an adventure.” His turn to yawn. “Well you can’t say I didn’t offer, sis. I’m gonna book. See ya.” “Later jMiller.” He leaves. When he is definitely gone, I will Google him. But I wait for a few minutes, because I need to know for certain he won’t make a surprise return. Because if my guess is correct… Invisi-gal, Googling. When I track down the correct John Miller, I put my face in my hands, shake a little, take a few deep breaths. So much for Prince Charming.’

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