FALLEN WOMEN by Sandra Dallas

fallenPUBLISHER: St. Martin's Press, 10/2013
GENRE: Historical Mystery
SETTING: Colorado, USA, 1885

FROM PUBLISHER: It is the spring of 1885 and wealthy New York socialite Beret Osmundsen has been estranged from her younger sister, Lillie, for a year when she gets word from her aunt and uncle that Lillie has died suddenly in Denver. What they do not tell her is that Lillie had become a prostitute and was brutally murdered in the brothel where she had been living. When Beret discovers the sordid truth of Lillie’s death, she makes her way to Denver, determined to find her sister’s murderer. Detective Mick McCauley may not want her involved in the case, but Beret is determined, and the investigation soon takes her from the dangerous, seedy underworld of Denver’s tenderloin to the highest levels of Denver society. Along the way, Beret not only learns the depths of Lillie’s depravity, but also exposes the sinister side of Gilded Age ambition in the process.

MY THOUGHTS: I really enjoyed this. It's a rare occurrence that I'm anxious to continue reading a book after I've put it down temporarily but that's what happened every time I put the book down to take a break from reading. For me it was a true page-turner.

This was an interesting whodunit. We're given plenty of suspects, some of which I wouldn't have suspected of the murders. Was it someone's ex-husband or possibly a father-son duo? The coachman or the butler? Or none of them? Someone close to her or a stranger? Lillie had been involved with many men and the killer could have been any one of them. I like William, the uptight butler, and would like to see him in a future novel. At one point I was wondering if it was him who'd done the killings. I was only slightly surprised to find out who the real killer was. When you read a book like this you suspect everyone at one point.

I don't like the heroine, Beret, at all. She's cold and a bit curt with most people. She loves yet hates Lillie, who at twenty-two is ten years younger than herself. They're the opposite appearance-wise and perhaps Beret is a touch jealous. I didn't have an opinion about Beret early on. I began to dislike her strongly when I got to the part when she thinks to herself that she 'hated' Lillie and she 'deserved' to die, presumably for being a prostitute. Then I learned about where some of her dislike for her came from and how Lillie came to live, at first with their aunt and uncle in Denver, then the brothel, and I understood some of her hatred but not her thinking Lillie deserved to die. She also thought Jonas, the seventeen-ish coachman, was 'ugly' which made me uncomfortable since he's got something physically wrong with him. When she learned Mick came from money she asked him why he worked. That irritated me and made me think she was an idiot for asking such a stupid question. But of course she's not an idiot.

I like the detective, Mick, a lot and like how his part in the story ends. I hope this story turns into a series. It reminds me a bit of the Deadly series by Brenda Joyce, what with the rich heroine helping the detective hero, and the reporter who's out to pester them. I'd really like to read about them working together some more.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

GIRLVERT: A PORNO MEMOIR by Oriana Small aka Ashley Blue

PUBLISHER: Rare Bird Lit, 6/2011
GENRE: Nonfiction/Memoir

FROM PUBLISHER: Proclaimed "girl-pervert" Oriana Small, AKA Ashley Blue, a veritable artist at heart, weaves through the intricacies of a decade in and out of the adult film industry, love, drugs, and her own firebrand of what it means to live ecstatically. From accolades to agony, Girlvert illuminates the surreality of a life lived beyond all comprehension.

MY THOUGHTS: This dark and depressing, brutal at times. I've never read about someone as hardcore as her. She goes beyond the basic porn vaginal, anal, double penetration, comeshot-to-the-face. She's a product of drug addicted parents and she went on to become a binge eating bulimic at twelve and a drug abuser soon after. I can't understand how a person can do drugs and drink alcohol 24/7 and still live...and with no food in your system either. How can you function?!

I feel bad for her childhood but have no sympathy for her once she entered the world of porn. But she never asked for any. She seems to enjoy what she does. It's unclear to me if she's completely off drugs. I never got the feeling that she ever wanted to be drug free. She doesn't seem to care about herself at all and several times said that she just wants people (porn actors/producers/friends) to 'love' her. She's never gotten any type of counseling (that I know of) for her eating disorder, drugs or her bad childhood, nor did she ever mention the word counseling. This quote from her and the word happiness from her book disturbs me- 'I have always had a high thresh for the gross, the vulgar, the sickening. For me it is a source of happiness and excitement.'

Some things Oriana told us made me cringe and wince and just feel depressed. I feel like she blamed her boyfriend, fellow porn actor and fellow drug addict Trent for a lot of the porn she did. She was very easy to manipulate. She doesn't seem to like women and always called them, herself included, sluts and whores.

The part where she met her future husband, Dave Naz, was far too rushed as were the parts where she briefly mentioned working for Playboy TV. She never mentioned her coworkers there by name. I think she didn't want to give the females attention in her own book.

This book is definitely a keeper for me but it's not for everyone, that's for sure.

You can check out her blog.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

KEEPING SECRETS by Suzanne Somers

PUBLISHER: Warner Books, 2/1988
GENRE: Nonfiction/Memoir

FROM PUBLISHER: This is the story of the Suzanne Somers the world never knew...the shy, frightened child trembling at her father's drunken rages, the troubled teenager who became a pregnant bride, the young model struggling to support her son, the rising star still haunted and controlled by her past. It's the story she wrote for America's millions of adult children of alcoholics, people who don't drink, yet suffer from and need help against the ravages of this insidious disease. And it's a story of incredible courage, a candid, sometimes shocking autobiography of a woman who dared to face the dark side of her soul and triumph over it.

MY THOUGHTS: This memoir was much darker than I'd anticipated. Actually, I didn't expect anything like it. Suzanne's father (born to Irish immigrant parents) and all three of her siblings are recovering alcoholics, or were before the book was published in early 1988. Her father's side has quite a few in the family.

Her father was an angry, verbally abusive foulmouthed man who was never not drinking. The house was constantly filled with chaos and there was some violence. The father was assaulted by three of the children at different times when they were teenagers. Suzanne once hit him in the head with a tennis racket when she was sixteen, resulting in a bloody head injury that required medical attention, her older sister kicked him in the ribs and broke them, and her younger brother broke his ribs too. Suzanne wet the bed until she was in her early teens, her younger brother did too, and Suzanne began having nightmares in first grade. She'd hide in her bedroom closet a lot too to get away from the yelling. Her mother stood by her man and allowed her four children to be raised up in a mess but Suzanne holds nothing against either parent.

Suzanne didn't have it easy in her early life and career. She comes from a religious Catholic family and went to Catholic schools. She got expelled from one when she was 14 because a snooping nun found in her locker a somewhat explicit poem she wrote about a boy she was interested in. She got pregnant when she was not quite 17 1/2, got married to the father, had the baby, Bruce Jr., in November 1964, one month after her 18th birthday, then began having an affair with a much older man (47). Her marriage ended a few years later and she began dating her current husband, Alan Hamel, even though he was married with two children. They married about nine years later, in 1977. Acting and modeling jobs were few and far between so she had major trouble paying bills and was even arrested for bouncing checks. She got pregnant by Alan shortly after and had an abortion and almost hemorrhaged to death in the days following. She shot nude test photos for possible publication in Playboy magazine but changed her mind about it and never signed the release. Playboy released the photos anyway years later after she became famous by being on Three's Company.

Sadly she didn't discuss the controversy surrounding her firing from Three's Company in 1980 but she may discuss it in her second memoir, 1998's After The Fall.

I think the book is well written, I loved it and have nothing bad to say about it.