author: Billy Jolie
published: 4 June 2010
publisher: WingSpan Press
genre(s): contemporary, romance, thrillers
buy/shelve it: Amazon | B&N | BookBub | Goodreads
With her perfectly tousled blonde hair and pink, pouty lips, Gianna Salvani is the girl everyone loves to hate. She has it all - fame, fortuneand unrivaled beauty. But behind the seductive smile is an insecure girl who still grieves for the father she lost years ago. With a controversial new film in the can, and the release of her debut album looming, Gianna is poised to take center stage. But when a shocking secret leaves her exposed, her fame will bring her face-to-face with a nightmare she never saw coming. Because lurking in the shadow of her spotlight is an obsessed killer with plans of his own for Gianna. Ignited by his first conquest, Gianna's greatest admirer begins a brutal hunt to claim her as the ultimate trophy in a string of look-alike murders. Motivated by envy, he forces himself into her seemingly untainted world and threatens to ruin everything she's built by revealing a hidden tie that binds them. And if you knew his secret, you'd want to kill her too.
The Lust Garden is the debut novel from author Billy Jolie, and it does not read at all like a first work. It was fiercely engaging, with a fantastic story and fabulous characters. Although set amidst the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and New York, it is definately not a lighthearted, fluffy, “celeb” tale. It is dark, gritty, and graphic, at it’s heart a story of dysfunction of all kinds. Drugs, sex, family issues,… you name it. So many times, the grittiness and graphicness of a story can be overdone, overpowering the characters and the thrust of the plot. This was very much not the case. It was never gratuitous, always perfectly in keeping with the story line and the characters. It has a wondrfully constructed plot, the rawness of some of the scenes really adding to the suspense that was built throughout the story, There were a ton of unexpected twists and turns that kept me completely on the edge and guessing. This book has all of the necessary elements for a really great thriller.
In my opinion, the characters really drove the story, Jolie’s ability to construct perfectly three-dimensional characters is amazing. They were all completely over the top, living a lifestyle that most of us can barely imagine living for ourselves. But the author was able to make them come to life, giving them a depth and personality that made them completely believable. They each had their own secrets, their own issues, their own stories, Those individual stories wound in and around each other throughout the story and added to the suspense and anticipation of the book.
I generally don’t comment much on cover art, as I am a big believer in judging a work by the story and not the cover. But sometimes you come across a cover that is just stunning or that just strikes you. The cover of The Lust Garden did both. I love the fact that it is simple and beautiful in every way,… with just that smear of blood across her face. I just find that to be visually exciting. I love that it fits the story perfectly.
I admit I was excited to read this, especially when I realized that the author spent much of his youth near my hometown. There is a bit of northern NY in the book, an integral part that drew much of the mystery together. I highly recommend you purchase this book and read it! A FAB-U-LOUS read!