Kerry Barnes: Ruthless and Ruby’s Palace

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Well, I’m giving you a double-barreled review today! I was approached by Kerry to review her first two books a few months back and they have languished on my TBR pile since then due to other commitments.  I’m glad to say that I have now read both of them back to back and here’s my lowdown on both of them!

Ruthless:

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What the blurb says:

1964 – London
Dolly Vincent is born to an East End gangster but is sent away for her own protection.
Mad Mick is hell-bent on his revenge and will stop at nothing to kill her.
Estranged from her family, she becomes a successful barrister, but after defending a young Italian man she finds herself caught up in a secret held by a high court judge. Tortured and left for dead she flees London and heads to New York. Only the Vincents know where she is, but even they don’t know the truth.
1990
Francesca is back to face her demons but this time she is not alone.
One woman three names

My review:

I am a long time fan of Gangland crime fiction and grew up devouring Martina Cole’s books before veering off to the psychological thriller end of the market. So it has been a long time since I’ve read much of this genre.

Ruthless explores the life of Dolly Vincent and her family. Dolly was sent away to live with her aunt as a young child for her own protection when her gangland father gets caught up in a feud with local hard man Mad Mick. Her life takes a very different path from that of her East End childhood but despite her success, it is clear that there is something within Dolly’s make up that connects her to a life of violence and crime. This is a hard-hitting and ruthless journey from London’s East End to the Mafia of New York in the 1990s.

What a cast of characters and plot twists throughout – I loved Dolly/Francesca and was whooping her on as she sought her own form of revenge on those who done her wrong! She is one hell of a kick ass feisty woman and you would not want to be getting on the wrong side of her! Some of the characters I found a little weak and somewhat stereotyped but this was overshadowed by a gripping and fast-moving plot!

There were a couple of things that I found stretched the realms of credibility (the wolf as a pet and the social workers simply allowing Ruby to be handed over to Dolly without any check as to who she was and her relationship with them) However, in this genre this appears to be commonplace and again it did not detract from my enjoyment of the book.

Ruthless explores the themes of revenge, love and greed and oh my what a tangled plot is weaved; I found myself completely engrossed in the lives of Dolly and her family; I cried at the abuse and cheered as she transformed herself into a woman most formidable!  Kerry Barnes has certainly proved that she knows how to tell a good story, a compelling read that will keep you turning the pages until way past your bedtime!

 

 

Ruby’s Palace

34008546What the blurb says:

The Vincents’ nightclubs are popping up all over London.

The O’Connells, a gypsy family, plan to get their hands on the Palaces, but gypsies have no place in business… not the Vincents’ business.

Their hunger for revenge is driven by jealousy and greed. Disregarding the warnings and the rumours of the disappearance of the entire McManners family, the O’Connells plot a scam so cruel even their own kind shuns them.

Ruby Vincent is now fifteen, and she may look like her aunt Francesca, but she still has Jesse Right’s blood running through her veins. Turning her back on the family, she goes in search of the truth. What she finds will haunt her… She should have left the boogie man to rot in hell.

‘When you’ve made your bed, you must lie in it.

 

My review:

Following straight on the heels of #Ruthless, I dived straight into #RubysPalace and found myself embroiled in a feud that just does not let up from page one all the way through to the end!

Ruby Vincent has turned 15 and despite the protection and love of her family she is searching for something that she feels is missing; she is rebelling against the Vincent name and seeks out her estranged mother Jesse – but at what cost to herself and her family? The connections she makes are enough to shake the very foundations of the Vincent family. Ruby’s Palace is a fast paced and gripping page-turner that will keep you engrossed from start to finish. This book could be read as a standalone but to get a better understanding of the characters and the background I’d recommend reading Ruthless first!

A huge cast of characters each with their own little foibles and too many to mention in a review. Oh Ruby, as a reader I wavered for empathising with the lost little girl that she is to despairing of her brattish and spoiled manner! Yet there was something about her, something so naive and gullible that I couldn’t help but warm towards her as she searched for the truth about her background – a search that placed her and those she loved in great danger. When Ruby found her mum, Jesse, my heart sank and this woman repulsed me – there was not one redeeming feature about her!

Although Francesca(Dolly) Vincent doesn’t feature so heavily in this book when she makes an appearance this woman just commands attention and respect! I love Dolly, she is one kick ass character and you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of her!

I enjoyed the whole Gypsy storyline, I felt it was fairly representative and highlighted the discrimination against the community but also indicated the differences within the travelling community between the elder population and their own moral code compared to the younger members who get caught up in the ways of the gorger community. I did struggle a bit at times with the language and attitudes towards the travelling community within the book but I think it is fair to say it is a pretty accurate reflection of the reality of the subject covered.

Ruby’s Palace gives you greed, revenge, jealousy and a search for the truth. It takes you and grabs you by the throat and compels you to read until the very end. A must for fans of Martina Cole, Kimberly Chambers and Jessie Keane.

To buy the books click the link below:

Amazon: Kerry Barnes Books

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