Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Sweet Life #1 Review

The Sweet Life #1 by Francine Pascal
The first novella-length episode - The Sweet Life - begins three years after the events of Sweet Valley Confidential; Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are back in Sweet Valley and inseparable once more. Things are looking up for both twins: Elizabeth is a star reporter at the LA Tribune with a popular blog, and Jessica’s PR career is on the fast-track. But while the professional lives of the Wakefield sisters are secure, their personal lives may be in jeopardy. Jessica, now a mother, finds that managing parenthood, marriage, and a job is harder than she expected, while Elizabeth and Bruce must face a scandal that could strengthen their bond…or tear them apart for ever.

Meanwhile, life goes on in Sweet Valley. Families are made, hearts are broken, and…Lila Fowler is a reality TV star? Some things never change.

3 out of 5 stars

The Sweet Life #1 is the first novella in the 6 volume E-serial. It looks like all 6 will be published in October in hardcover, but it is still cheaper to buy them as separate e-books for $2 each.

Three years after the end of Sweet Valley Confidential (which I reviewed on my other blog), Jessica and Todd have a two year old son but not much of a marriage. They have been separated for over 4 months. Elizabeth is living with Bruce Patman and everything is great until he is slapped with a sexual assault allegation. Lila is desperate to be part of the True Housewives franchise and will do anything to get it.

Spoilers ahead

Jessica and Todd's marriage has fallen apart in less than three years, but it seems that the only reason is that Jessica has a career in PR that is just as time consuming as Todd's job as a sports writer and Todd has old-fashioned ideas about her place in the home. They never come right out and say he wants her to be a stay at home mom, but they do say that a mother's role is different than a father's role. When a female journalist that likes Todd plagiarizes Jessica's quotes (and Liz quickly finds out she has done a lot more) and Jessica reports her, Todd blasts her for being so jealous she wanted to ruin the woman's career. No, she kind of did that herself when she committed a major sin in journalism. So Jessica decides it's time to move on and sleeps with someone else.

Elizabeth is adjusting to her new life of luxury. Bruce is everything she wants and, while she has to put up with a lot of his life being thrust upon her, she is happy. Then Bruce is accused by a former intern of sexual assault. Bruce says it isn't true and Elizabeth believes him, so she starts to investigate. Her investigation leads her to the girl in question and, after some startling details, she starts to believe that maybe she doesn't know Bruce as well as she thought.

Lila wants to be on the True Housewives of Sweet Valley more than anything. When she's finally picked for the show, mostly because her husband, Ken Masters, is a famous NFL player, she knows that she has to be the star. She decides that the bitch is the role she has to play and she does... so much so that Ken decides to leave her.

End Spoilers

This novella is only a little over 100 pages and, as the first part in a serial, is not the full story. It does throw you into the story pretty quickly, though. At this end, I think they've gotten pretty far into the story and all that's really left is the reveal and resolution. This does seem to be the longest of the 6 books and, if the page info on Goodreads is correct for all of them, most of the rest are about 30 pages.

The characters are fairly typical of Sweet Valley, but it seemed like they swapped Todd and Bruce. Bruce has become a character that everyone loves and is an awesome guy. Todd, on the other hand, was terrible. If the author's goal was to make Todd the biggest dick ever, then she certainly succeeded. Jessica and Elizabeth were more or less the same as they've always been, though Jessica might have been a little more mature. Lila's subplot wasn't that interesting and neither was she. I mean, I don't want to have to read about fictional Real Housewives, or True Housewives as the book calls them.

Basically, if you enjoyed Sweet Valley Confidential, then you will probably like this. I don't think I can say that you'd like this if you liked the old Sweet Valley books but didn't like Confidential, though you might like it more than Confidential. I actually liked this a little better. There were no flashbacks and everything felt more like a typical Sweet Valley book. This does make reference to events discussed in Sweet Valley Confidential, so it would probably help to read that one first but I don't know if it's absolutely necessary.

*Picture and description from Goodreads

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