My rating: 5 of 5 stars
César Ritz, slide aside. Conrad Hilton, pay homage. John Drake, take heed and recognize. Isadore Sharp and Murray Koffler, study and learn. Potter Palmer, bow down. And John Jacob Astor, take many seats.
For never has the world-class hospitality industry known a groundbreaking baron quite like the one named Harrison Marshall of Marshall International, a billionaire hotelier, chef, restauranteur, winemaker, and gourmet foods manufacturer—not to mention television network head, nightclub owner, cocktail bar owner and consumer of souls.
Head of the almighty and all-powerful Marshall clan, the shamelessly rich and wealthy Harrison has been hospitalized in critical condition following a near fatal accident on California’s Pacific Coast Highway. Not wearing a seat belt, the influential entrepreneur was thrown from his exclusive Bugatti after the lavish speedster hit a guard rail while traveling at a significantly lofty momentum. And as a result of the collision, Harrison Marshall sustained extensive injuries to his opulent person, including major head trauma, broken bones, a broken leg, and hand damage among a number of other minor disfigurements.
The prognosis is grave, and the celebrated Harrison Marshall’s chances of survival are slim to none. So, with such being the misfortunate circumstance, there is only one thing left for the good-looking and prosperous proprietor to do: fall head-over-heels into the unconscious embrace of a coma.
I Will Now Interlude.
On the sheets of this minted serial drama, Joss Wood works up a wet sweat channeling the preeminent Jackie Collins in the vein of the rich, the famous, the surgically beautified, and the scandalously vile who scheme, cheat, lie, and copulate their way onto the most debaucherous and sumptuously displayed playgrounds of California’s ultra elite.
In Joss Wood’s literature, however, the excessively abundant among those of the “Jackie like” is the internationally feared and way too revered Santiago-Marshall clan, a centuries-old lineage of king makers and king breakers who share a keen interest in maintaining the worldly status quo.
I Will Now Resume.
Mariella Santiago-Marshall, this transient tale’s Leona Helmsley—blended with just a touch of old era Bianca Jagger—is a proud heiress of the Don Juan Santiago dynasty of California. A control freak of epic proportions, and a hater of independent people who have no need of her, Harrison Marshall’s wife of over thirty years is the CEO of MSM Event Planning, the catering division of her husband’s hospitality empire. Mariella, enviable beyond compare (in the opinion of those who envy her), sits as queen on the throne of a two-clan ancestry—one by blood, and the other by marriage.
The undisputed empress of the sprawling Casa de Catalina, otherwise known as “Casa Cat,” Mariella’s God is her combined bloodline and money. And it is in the names of Santiago and Marshall that she puts her unwavering trust.
The Firstborn Child.
Dr. Luc Marshall is a Mercedes-AMG-driving plastic surgeon (specialized in breast and buttock enhancement), and the arrogant eldest child of Harrison and Mariella. The significant other of one Rachel Franklin—the nipped, tucked, unloved and needy daughter of California Congressman Nicholas Franklin—Dr. Luc is the spit of his luxe environment, and an idolator of his Earthly father.
The Secondborn Child.
Rafe Marshall is the incredibly intelligent, albeit less ambitious and homosexual, middle child of Harrison and Mariella. Rebuked by his father but fervently cherished by his mother, the wayward Rafe serves as a figurehead consultant on renovations and designs for the Marshall International hotels and restaurant chains.
The Lastborn Child.
Elana Marshall is the coitus-starved youngest child of Harrison and Mariella. Getting by on her looks, her renowned name, and her witty charm, the pitifully unmotivated Elana serves as a figurehead party planner for MSM Event Planning, an important position that requires a tremendous level of talent and responsibility—both of which Her Highness lacks. Good God, dahhhling, what would she do without Gabe?
Gabriel “Gabe” Santiago is Mariella’s beloved nephew and loyal first cousin to Luc, Rafe, and Elana. But despite having two—count ’em, two—degrees in business, even still, the smart and hardworking Gabe Santiago is reduced to both doubling as Elana’s babysitter in MSM’s Event Planning division and basking, humiliatingly, in the more exalted shadows of his three extended family members, spoiled as the trio of heathen are.
The Ship’s Anchor.
Joe Reynolds is Harrison Marshall’s Aston Martin-driving confidant, business partner, and oldest, dearest friend. Considered by Mariella to be the ‘rock and strong rope that connects her and Harrison to the ground,’ the impious Joe Reynolds also wears—in addition to his George Hamilton tan—the coddling hat of Marshall family advisor.
Whomever this mystery man may be, his well-paying job is to make sure that every disgusting opprobrium the unforthcoming Harrison Marshall evacuates from his outrageously privileged entrails gets flushed immediately.
In this, episode 1 of Secrets of the A-List, Joss Wood cooly introduces her silk-stocking cast in a punch ’em-stomp ’em-bang ’em flair that is certain to remind readers of the timeless storylines glamorously scribed by the one and only Queen of the Hollywood Bonkbuster herself, the late, great Jackie Collins.
Joined by an equally haughty bundle of supporting players, including Jerrod Jones, the Hollywood director upon whose mind-blowing erotica Elana finds herself dependent; Finola Jones, Jerrod’s gorgeous, tremendously talented, and Oscar-winning wife; Thom, Elana’s sexy, rich, and cocoa-skinned fiancé; and Nora, a wealthy mystery woman living in Paris with questionable ties to the mighty Harrison Marshall, the top-billed troupe puts forth every given effort to shine in their debut performances. And for the most part, they don’t disappoint.
Indeed, the orgasmic fluid seeping out from the loins of this scurrilous and nauseating 62-page quickie emits a musky potpourri of deception, pride, ego, arrogance, false idolatry, lust, vindictiveness, and avariciousness. I genuinely enjoyed the time I spent cuddled up with this cavorted plot. And if you fancy a ritzy mystery thriller jet set with the filthy rich who double dare comeuppance to interfere with their pompous paths in life, then you most certainly will also.
Five Champagne-wishing and Black Beluga caviar-dreaming stars.
• It is my kindly pleasure to thank Harlequin Special Releases, as well as NetGalley, for the advanced review copy (ARC) of Secrets of the A-List (episode 1 of 12) in exchange for my honest review.
Analysis of Secrets of the A-List (episode 1 of 12) is courtesy of Reviews by Cat Ellington: https://catellingtonblog.wordpress.com
Date of Review: Tuesday, February 13, 2018