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The Lust Garden by Billy Jolie

June 19, 2011

The Lust Garden by Billy Jolie

With her perfectly tousled blonde hair and pink, pouty lips, Gianna Salvani is the girl everyone loves to hate.

She has it all – fame, fortune and 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.

Full disclosure: Thank yous go to Billy Jolie, the author, for sending this gem to Black Sun Reviews.

I’m still reeling from the experience of reading The Lust Garden.

I don’t like to give spoilers but…word of advice? If you are triggered by Sexual Abuse? Do not read this novel. In fact, don’t read this review. Go to your happy internet places and don’t come back until tomorrow, when I’ll have posted a lovely interview with Katherine Pine. Who is kindly giving a way some books.  Yay free e-books, we like free e-books, right? Go on now, shoo.

Gone? Good.

If this is truly Billy Jolie’s debut novel, he’s set the bar quite high because it sure as hell doesn’t read like a debut novel. And I’ve read *a lot* of debut novels. Not only is the book meticulously plotted and, I felt, excellently paced for it’s genre, it’s also horribly engaging. I’m actually pissed that the author managed to make me care so damn much about the main character. I sure as hell wasn’t expecting to. I’m not the sort of person that puts celebrities on a pedestal. I don’t care about their lives or engross myself in learning about every facet of their lives. Sure, I admire their talents (for what they are known for) but that’s as far as it goes.

Imagine my surprise when, not only did I not find myself rooting for the serial killer, but was heartbroken when everything seemed like it was playing right into his hands and Gianna’s life started to spiral out of control.

Because I know so many girls like Gianna…and sometimes they break my heart with the level of insincerity with which they lead their lives.

Gianna Salvani has the life everyone thinks they want. Fame. Fortune. Love…well, maybe that last one’s a bit of a stretch, but what’s that old adage? Right. Fake it till you make it. And Gianna’s an exceptional actress, and gifted with a keen perception when it comes to the masks of others. Or so she thinks.

Fans adore her. The Paparazzi love to hate her. And the ones closest to her? Well, they’ve all got secrets.

What I found so fascinating about this novel is that every single character (aside from the antagonist, …arguably) is in a hell designed of their own making. Gianna’s a star whose so insecure that she both needs and loathes her status and the attention she’s subjected to 24/7. Gianna’s boyfriend’s head is so far up his own ass that he refuses to see that Gianna hasn’t been happy with their relationship for a long time and deludes himself into believing that she’ll never leave him no matter what he does behind her back. Blair, Gianna’s best friend and personal assistant, (and my favorite character) puts his own life on hold so that he can ensure hers’ is successful. Meanwhile Rachyl Salinger’s life spins drastically out of control for the umpteenth time all because she can’t stop chasing the white rabbit…

Oh, did I mention there’s a serial killer gunning for Gianna like his life depends on it? No? Well, there you go. Billy Jolie wrote creepy like no one’s business. I was actively disturbed reading a lot of the Serial Killer’s POV scenes, mostly because I found myself empathizing with a lot of his backstory.

Making your audience uncomfortable is probably the best compliment you can give to a thriller writer.

I only have two real critiques. On one hand, I thought Mr. Jolie handled omniscient POV very well towards the end of the novel but there were once or twice in the beginning where I had to re-read a sentence to make sure I knew which character was thinking/saying what. Literally only once or twice though. Not nearly enough to grate on anyone’s nerves.

My second critique is a little subjective….I thought Mr. Jolie may have dropped a subplot regarding a journalist (who’s also pretty much gunning for our glamorous “heroine”) towards the end of the novel. At least, I was expecting a little more out of that subplot, reached the end and had a “but what happened to-” moment.

Other than that? Fantastic book! Gritty, heart-gripping, fast-paced, and so not for the faint of heart.

I especially admired the chutzpah Mr. Jolie displayed with his ending.  Not that I’m telling.

As far as I know, The Lust Garden can be purchased at Amazon and B&N.

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