Dark Water by Jan Ruth

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Helllllo readers – hope you’re feeling a little better than I am. It’s been one of those days/weeks/months. I broke a mirror at new year and it seems to be doing its damned best to mess up my best efforts. Firstly my computer at work died a death which was horrible and then my laptop died a death too. Then, just to really upset me – I tried to buy a laptop online and it just wasn’t happening so I’ve been a little lost. But I’m back and ready to get back into blogging and this book is the perfect one to start me off.

The tragedy and comedy that is Jack’s life; is there a future for him and Anna, or is the past too destructive? Jack Redman, estate agent to the Cheshire set and skilled juggler of complex relationships. Someone to break all the rules, or an unlikely hero?

 In this sequel to Wild Water Jack and Anna return to discover that history repeats itself. Anna’s long-awaited success as a serious artist is poised to happen, but her joy, along with her relationship with Jack, is threatened by old scores. 

Simon Banks is a depressed and unstable man with a plan. He wants to wipe out his past by buying a brighter future, but Jack Redman stands in his way. Will Jack ever escape the legacy of lies and deceit left by his ex-wife? Can Jack and Anna hold it all together, or will tragic repercussions from Jack’s past blow them apart forever?


So as like the blurb suggests the plot is only going to get thicker in this second book. As we continue from the first tale we see Jack torn between wanting to be with Anna but also wanting to make the right decision in respect to his child/ren. Pressured by his ex-wife to move herself their daughter Lottie and her toddler son James closer to Lottie’s school and therefore closer to Anna’s home means that the stress on their relationship is reaching uncomfortable levels. With the confusion of parentage still lingering and Chelsea’s father Simon Banks – who has become increasingly unstable and now wants to reveal his true identity whilst also having a terrible grudge against Anna – it’s all getting a bit too much. It’s all mixed up family relationships and wobbles and that’s a pretty interesting tale to spin.

So, what makes this book exciting? Well for one I love the way that all the characters are of a slightly older age. This is like a grown-up chick-lit that doesn’t just deal with lust and excitement it is filled with responsibility, with baggage and with disillusioned characters and it feels so real. Each still has a sense of hope and as with the first book it made me feel for the characters so much more. Each character has also been developed so much more – Jack feels more haggard, more tired and I just wanted him to pull through and make the right decision. I thought the added characteristics, nothing really new from the first book but the elevation of the secondary characters traits helped to gel the developments in the characters lives.

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In terms of the writing – once again the description is beautiful. The landscape is Wales really allows for that, and it helps to add atmosphere, excitement and a deeper, darker addition to the tale. It almost becomes a character in itself. It’s not overwhelming but it just helps to put the characters against a really fully-fledged background. Places like the quarry, Patsy’s cottage and the art gallery just came to life in my mind and would in the imagination of any reader.

I liked the way that the author allows the reader to make up their own mind about what’s going on. Themes of love, loss, hope and stress are all developed and yet we get to see it from both Anna and Jack so we can develop are own ideas. Each character is flawed and in the wrong at one point or another which allows us to move between characters and not just dismiss them. As like in any book there are heroes and villains but here they’re allowed to be judged fairly? If that makes sense.

The only wobble may be there are a lot of characters and at the start I was a little confused as to who was who and what their relationship with another character was but once I got back into it I was just pulled into another exciting and rich tale. So would I recommend? Yes, it has such grit and realism and it speaks to numerous different readers. With beautiful characters, an intriguing plot and with an understanding of how to draw the reader in this book is a triumph.



Question and Answer with Mae Wood on her book Risking Ruin

Good afternoon readers and happy Thursday! It’s nearly Friday which means it’s nearly the weekend and I’m very excited to be travelling to London on Saturday so this makes me very happy. I’m still a little off book reviews although I’m steadily reading still. I think for this week I’m going to stay away from reviews, just for a little longer and then bring you a wonderful book on Monday; well that’s the plan. Back in January I brought you a review of Risking Ruin my Mae Wood which you can read here. I thought we would follow that with a lovely little Q+A session; enjoy.

When writing Risking Ruin, how much do you draw from your own life?

I am an employment lawyer like Marisa, so I hear about all sorts of workplace craziness.  Many of the allegations of workplace harassment in the story are drawn from events I’ve read about in court papers.  Marisa and I have the same job, but our lives differ greatly from there.  I’m married and a mother.  I’ve never been as career-focused as Marisa is, but I know plenty of women who are.  I don’t draw from my life per se, but I do draw from stories of my career-minded friends who are in their 30s and struggling through (or have struggled through) awful dating situations.  Trust me, that woman at the head of the boardroom table closing a billion dollar deal or speaking in front of thousands at a MacWord-style conference still has self-doubt.  I know.  I’m her “ordinary” friend and I get the emotional phone calls.

When is your moment to write?

I like to write in about 2 to 3 hour long blocks, but I’m fine with interruption.  Typically, this means I write during my child’s bath time and her nightly viewing of Peppa Pig and while she’s up and down for hour or so after I put her to bed, demanding water, more blankets, less nightlight, etc.  (Every parent knows what I’m talking about.)   That said, by the time I sit down to write, I know where I’m going.  I’ve muddled through the next steps in my head while driving home and preparing dinner.

Where are you up to with the sequel?

Tentatively titled “Surviving Bitsy,” the sequel picks up where “Risking Ruin” left off.   Marisa and Trip are in the plane on the way to St. George.  Let’s just say that Trip’s unilateral decision to “solve” the problem in their relationship is not well-taken by Marisa at first.    I’ve written about the first 20%, including Marisa getting to meet Trip’s mom Bitsy and John returning to the story.  Marisa’s firm has hired him to babysit her and make sure her relationship with Trip doesn’t mean that the firm loses Branco’s lucrative business.

You’ll note that “Risking Ruin” did not end with an “I love you” or an exchange of rings.  For me the most interesting bit in any relationship is getting from “Let’s date exclusively” to “Can I live without you?”  “Surviving Bitsy” follows Marisa as she navigates being Trip’s proper girlfriend and them trying to blend their lives together.   As for the title, Bitsy is Trip’s mom.  But this isn’t a Monster-In-Law type story.  Quite the opposite.  I can’t wait to get it wrapped up and released late summer!

Do you intend to keep the chick-lit / contemporary romance balancing act for the sequel? Is it difficult?

I love Chick-Lit. Bridget Jones’ Diary spoke to me in my 20s and I’ve never looked back.  What I love about Chick-Lit is what I find missing in a lot of contemporary romances — personal growth by the heroine in the face of a real-to-her-life challenge in the form of a career change, money problems, or just her beliefs. Classically, think Pride and Prejudice.  Many Chick-Lit stories are love stories at base, but I view them as Chick-Lit because of the tone.  I love humor.  I love puns.  I love to verbally spar.  I also crave honesty.   For me, it’s not love unless your cheeks hurt after a date because you’ve been smiling and laughing so much.   I do intend to keep the same light and honest tone the for the sequel.

It’s no secret that you write under a pen name.  Do you let your family read your work? What if they asked?

My husband detests “Risking Ruin”!  He doesn’t understand the genres of Chick-Lit or romance at all.  He’s read though the first sex scene and then just couldn’t tolerate it any longer.  I don’t take offense.  I’d rather go on a 10 mile hike in the middle of summer than read the five volume biography of Lyndon Johnson he currently has his nose in. Our tastes in pleasure reading differ and that’s fine with me.  Nonetheless, he’s my biggest cheerleader in this project and extremely proud of me.

My family has no clue I’ve written a novel.  However, my two closest friends I consider family.  They read my work as a serial.  When I get a few chapters pulled together, they gobble them up and then tell me what they like, don’t like, and want more of.  It’s partially their fault there is sex in Risking Ruin.  So blame them if you think it’s too much!

As for them asking to read my book, my sister would roll her eyes.  My mother would be super supportive and probably really like it. And no one wants their father reading sex scenes they’ve written!  (Okay, probably someone wouldn’t mind, but I’m from the South where daddies and daughters pretend sex doesn’t exist.)

So there you go, a little more of an insight into the lovely Mae Wood and her book risking ruin which you can buy a copy of here: Amazon