Dear Readers, after a long sabbatical from my beloved blog that you are reading right now, I am back with a very, very small bang, reviewing Helen E. Field’s novel on De’ath family’s antics, on this particular occasion to do with dreams of lounging about in hot tubs to impress their Brentwood, Essex neighbourhood and random mystery shopping episodes. It is a very uncertain and dark time for all of us with the Corona and Covid pandemic and this novel was delightfully funny and fast paced, earning it well deserved four stars.
Brooke and Dean are the ideal couple next door, living in Brentwood, Essex with their little tot Paige. Dean dreams of getting a promotion in his IT Support firm while Brooke, described as a typical Essex hottie wants to be better than the rest of the Essex lot in their neighbourhood and has a penchant for reading Homes and Gardens and aspires to be better than the rest. Dean is very, very endearing as a husband who wants to do the best for his little daughter and Brooke. Brooke is very outspoken in her demands for a Hot Tub and that sets the story in motion.
When Dean applies for a job as a mystery shopper, his main concern is somehow earning enough to get a Hot Tub to impress his feisty wife and his friends and in laws. In the meantime, Brooke also scores a job working as an assistant to a Lady Townsend, a vivacious landed lady who takes a shine to Brooke at their very first meeting. Both of the spouses hide their little jobs from one another and what ensues is a hilarious comedy of errors that features side characters Martin (Dean’s friend) and Dawn (Brooke’s ever suffering friend and babysitter to Paige), Lady Townsend and the couple’s laws.
I especially enjoyed reading about Dean’s mishaps in mystery shopping and how he managed to visit a posh hotel that everyone was in awe of and did the typical ‘new to this kind of thing’ exercise of nabbing toiletries (in this case Molton Brown) for free!! He also mystery shops Burger King and a Golf Club with thieving staff and all of his experiences are worth reading! On the other hand, Brooke attends a posh members only club assisting Lady Townsend with her presentation and the description of the club and its members is engrossing and funny.
The best part is Dean’s role in Paige’s near disastrous birthday party and how well Dean and Martin are able to deal with the ensuing chaos as Dean somehow manages to fit in his mystery shopping task on the same day as his daughter’s birthday party. I do not want to give any spoilers away, but in the end, both Dean and Brooke are able to realise their Essex dream of owning a beautiful state of the art Hot Tub, although this culminates in another comic situation for both of them. How they get to this stage is what the book is about. I thoroughly enjoyed the fast pace of this book and how the author has painstakingly described each situation and has given the reader a real feel of the Essex area and its customs.