About the Author;
Kate Forster lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, two children and dogs and can be found nursing a laptop, surrounded by magazines and talking on the phone, usually all at once. She is an avid follower of fashion, fame and all things pop culture and is also an excellent dinner party guest who always brings gossip and champagne.
Twitter handle: @kateforster
About the Book:
Wealth and privilege can’t buy you love….or keep your secrets safe
The de Santoval sisters are heiresses to a glamorous fashion house, and the darlings of LA society.
Violetta is the hottest reality TV star of the moment, with a fierce press interest to rival Hollywood’s A-list. Carlotta is an exclusive horse trainer, as wild as the stallions she breaks in. Fine-arts consultant Grace is hiding a dark secret she must keep hidden at all costs. Their mother, wealthy fashion maven Birdie De Santoval, lies unconscious following a mysterious accident. Blame soon falls on their powerful but ruthless tycoon father, the missing Leon De Santoval.
Beneath the ritzy façade of the de Santoval family lies a web of deceit and betrayal that hides a secret that threatens to destroy them all…
Where to Buy:
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2JbOZrI
It was the title and plot (and look at that fabulous cover!) that got me requesting this ARC. Fashion, a mention of Spain and horses and I was into this book immediately. The de Santoval Triplets Violeta Carlota and Grace are thrown together again when their mother Birdie (good tie-in with the business’s name, pájaro, which means “bird” in Spanish) ends up in a coma after an accident.
What exactly happened to lead to this, and who is guilty, there’s where the mystery lies. The family is moneyed and in the fashion industry.
This is my first ever title by Kate Forster and I loved the detail with which she writes and the depth of the family relationships and that of the 3 sisters. The family are well known in LA and scandals, sex and family loyalties as well as disagreements abound.
Each character is flawlessly fleshed out and is very individual in their own right.
Carlota seems the most serious although she is driven to work at improving the business and she loves to shop. I too am a total shopaholic and identified with her. I also am a horse lover. Violeta seems the most “rebellious” of the sisters as she likes a sex/ social life. Grace seemed to stand out the least but she has a secret. It’s interesting to see how the sisters got on after leading their respective lives. And, where is their missing father Leon? Does he have anything to do with what happened to Birdie?
Such a suspenseful, engrossing family drama. This is BRILLIANT and I’ll definitely be searching for more books by Kate Forster. The pacing is excellent.
Thanks to Kate Forster and Aria for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review and for my blog tour slot.
Leon – March 1980
Leon de Santoval sat in his economy seat on the plane, his long legs pressing against the seat in front of him. He ignored the woman next to him who seemed to be looking for conversation to distract herself from flying. She had crossed her body in a dramatic fashion as the plane took off and said a loud prayer, looking at him for reassurance. Leon had no time for conversation or religion and it certainly wasn’t his job to make the silly old woman feel better about being in a plane. God didn’t pay the bills, he thought, although many Padre’s would disagree, and the only conversation he wanted to have was with himself, about his future.
Looking ahead, he imagined when he would fly up the front in the first class cabin. However, the reality right now was that he had to pawn his grandfather’s gold cufflinks and pocket watch to scrape together enough money to fly to Paris for the couture shows. The cash flow in his father’s tailoring shop was lacking to say the least. It was fortunate that his family owned the building otherwise they would be out on the streets, he thought, as he watched the curtain open in first class and saw a hand holding out a champagne glass for a refill.
Leon held back an urge to push into the cabin and demand a seat. That was the problem with Leon, his grandmother always said – he would never wait for things to happen naturally. Things happen in their own time, she would tell him. But he believed no one. He knew where he wanted to go and that was to the top of the fashion world. He knew he could turn his father’s failing business around and create fascinating Spanish couture for the royals and high-class women of Spain, if only people would invest in him.
Leon leaned his head against the side of the plane and allowed himself to dream of dressing the finest women in Europe. By the time he woke the plane had landed in Paris. Reaching into the overhead cabin, he pulled down his suit bag carrying his one and only good suit – courtesy of his father’s shop – and his carry-on luggage. Ignoring the woman next to him who was smiling, hoping he would lift down her bag for her, he stood impatiently in the aisle waiting for the plane doors to open.
Leon had a plan; he would take inspiration and ideas from the Paris shows, return to Spain to take over his father’s shop, and turn it into a must-visit-and-buy atelier. He was sick of reading about the successes of Chanel and Chloe and Yves Saint Laurent. He wanted Spain to be on the fashion map and the House of de Santoval to be at the top.
Leon left the airport and took the bus to his low budget hotel in Montparnasse. He had to be careful with money; he could afford to eat only once a day and was hoping that he could charm his way into parties and soirees that were on for Fashion Week for contacts and finger food. Paris was still the home of fashion, no matter how hard London and New York screamed from the back of the ranks. Careers were made and reputations ruined by one bad showing.
Leon knew the 1980s were going to be unlike any other decade, there was money around and much of the snobbery had fallen away when new money began to make its mark on society. The fashion houses could not afford to be selective any more about who they dressed. The pop stars and movie stars were becoming the new royalty and Leon instinctively knew celebrity was where fashion was heading.
Arriving at the hotel, Leon went straight to his small room and undid his suit bag. He took out the fine grey wool suit with its purple silk lining and checked his bespoke John Lobb black leather dress shoes for shine. Leon was not afraid of colour; he was not afraid of anything for that matter. Unpacking his meagre collection of toiletries, he placed his Floid aftershave lotion on the bathroom counter and surveyed himself in the mirror. Tall and thin, with his slightly receding hair combed back, a hooked nose and black eyes. He was not handsome but it didn’t bother him. He would rather be smart and rich. People were always more attractive when they had money, he thought.
Leon was planning to visit as many fashion shows as possible, having managed to get tickets from some of the fabric companies his father still used. The tickets would mean that he would be standing at the back of the shows but he would be there, scanning the buyers from the big stores to see what items they noted on the runway.
First came YSL, then Lanvin, then Dior, then Chanel. And he would try to visit some of the new Japanese designers he was hearing about, although he was sceptical as to what the Japanese would show; no one would wear a kimono out of the house, he thought to himself.
Heading out into the streets of Paris, Leon was happy to be a part of the well-dressed crowds. Paris was like a second home to him, coming to the city as a boy with his father on buying trips for the shop. Leon would see the way some of the suppliers of the accessories and fabrics would dismiss his father and his modest shop, thinking it too small to offer the best and latest materials that they gave the couture houses.
Leon wanted respect, something his father had never sought, instead worrying about the fit of a suit or the collar of a dress shirt. Leon had no time for such details. He wanted to expand into women’s wear. Women were the ones with the money, they held the purse strings, no matter how much men protested. Leon had watched them in the shop, pushing their husbands and fathers around, cajoling or berating them into decisions. Yes, women were his focus.
Leon was not particularly fond of women in his personal life though. With a strong mother and grandmother, he had been pushed throughout his childhood until his own persona emerged, and he began to answer back to both of them. He never wanted to be like his father, cuckolded and scorned for trying and failing. Now at 32, Leon used women for sex, the way they used men for money – and he was happy to keep it that way, with no time for love in his head or his heart.
Leon hoped to get laid while he was in Paris; there were models galore and all he had to do was talk up his fashion house, promise an exclusive modelling contract and he would be in bed with some glamorous idiot from California or one of the new Czechoslovakian girls who were starting to model.
Walking towards a café, he spotted a redhead sitting outside, drinking a coffee and smoking a cigarette. No doubt a model, he thought, looking at her long legs and jutting collarbones. He sat down at the table beside her and waved at the waiter to bring him a coffee also. Reaching into his jacket pocket, he pulled out a pack of cigarettes and left the lighter there.
‘Est-ce que, je m’excuse peux emprunter votre allumeur?’ he asked casually.
‘I am sorry, I don’t speak French,’ came back an apologetic southern American accent.
‘Ah, you are American?’ said Leon in his charming Spanish lilt.
‘Yes, I’m from Georgia. Do you know it?’ the redhead said.
‘Only for its peaches.’
The girl laughed. She was quite stunning, Leon thought. Auburn hair, wide green eyes, a slight smattering of freckles on her nose, American teeth, white skin and long bones. Yes, definitely a model. Maybe no more than 20 years old.
‘I am Leon de Santoval,’ he said smoothly with not a hint of suggestiveness.
‘Hi, I am Birdie Blackwood,’ she replied, extending her hand to him.
He shook it and noticed her handshake was firm and strong. Good, he thought, imagining it on his cock later.
‘Birdie Blackwood? Is that your real name or are you playing with me?’ he asked, smiling.
‘It’s a family name.’ She shrugged, clearly used to explaining her unusual moniker.
Leon laughed. ‘Well, Birdie Blackwood, I think it’s lovely.’
‘I don’t. My full name is Cordella Birdie Blackwood. All the first-born women in my family are called that… since forever, I guess.’
She drew back on her cigarette and Leon noticed her long neck and defined jaw line. She really was quite stunning, he thought.
‘Are you here for the fashion shows?’ he asked.
‘Yes, I am.’
‘Which ones are you doing?’ he asked, hoping he might be able to get into a few more shows and perhaps a little closer to the runway, away from the pushing crowds.
‘All of them,’ she answered innocently.
‘All of them? How can that be? You will be very tired.’
‘I’m OK, I don’t have to do much really,’ she said, picking up her coffee and putting it on his table. ‘Can I join you?’
‘Of course.’ He gestured magnanimously. ‘Doesn’t it get chaotic out the back, with all the dressers and makeup?’ Leon was fascinated by this girl who treated the fashion shows with such little respect.
Birdie laughed. ‘Oh, I am not a model. Is that what you thought I was?’
Leon nodded. ‘Yes I did. How can a woman as beautiful as you not be on the runway?’
Birdie kept laughing in a musical tone. ‘I am a reporter, for Women’s Wear Daily. I cover the shows. I don’t walk in them.’
Leon nodded, more interested. Birdie Blackwood could prove to be helpful for him later on, he decided, making a mental note to not piss her off by fucking and then forgetting her.
‘Are you in fashion?’ she asked Leon.
‘Yes, I have an atelier in Barcelona. We create menswear but I would like to move into high-end womenswear. Beautiful things for beautiful women,’ Leon told her, without any trace of sarcasm.
Birdie looked unimpressed. She shrugged her shoulders and looked away. ‘Well, good luck with that.’
Leon frowned. Why was she being so dismissive of his dream? Women never gave men any credit for their dreams. It was always about them, he thought, remembering his mother screaming at his father over the dinner table.
‘Does it not seem a good idea to you?’ he asked, more than a little tersely.
Birdie looked back at him, her eyebrows raised. ‘Honestly? You want my opinion? You don’t know me at all.’
Leon suddenly realised he did want her opinion although he was not sure why. Always self-assured and confident about his dreams for his father’s shop, he was so sure this was what he was meant to do, until this girl blew off his aspirations.
‘Yes, I want to know,’ he answered honestly, putting his ego on check for a moment.
‘Well, OK then. Here’s what I think. I think we need less high fashion and more affordable fashion. Women are working now, they have their own money, they want fashion and they want it faster. Everyone wants to look great and look like they have money but not everyone does. These labels, these shows are for such a small part of the population and the outfits get worn once, maybe twice at best. Unless you are a couture collector or royalty or from oil money then these clothes are not for you. Not even the movie stars and pop stars can afford them. My best friend back in Georgia makes all her own clothes, she gets the magazines and then copies the styles. She now gets orders from our other friends. These are girls whose mothers grew up getting couture made twice a year in Paris. None of their daughters or granddaughters can be bothered now. All that standing and pinning, no thanks,’ Birdie said passionately.