Welcome to the Harlequin Trade Publishing Book Blog Tour for their Winter 2021 releases in Mystery & Thrillers. This is my stop for Just My Luck by Adele Parks. Scroll down for my review and a Q&A with the author.
Just My Luck by Adele Parks
Expected Publication April 6, 2021, by MIRA Books
About the Book: Be careful what you wish for…
After spending happy hours, parenting classes and barbeques together for the last 15 years, Lexi and Jake Greenwood have celebrated and shared almost everything with the Pearsons and the Heathcotes, including their lottery numbers. Then one night, the unthinkable happens. Someone has been telling lies – lies dark enough to burn bridges and tear the tight group of friends apart. When the Greenwoods win a stunning $23 million in the lottery with their group’s numbers shortly after their dramatic falling out, the Heathcotes and Pearsons believe they’re entitled to part of the prize… and the three couples will do anything to claim what is theirs.
Reader beware: the last chapter will change everything.
A compulsively readable portrait of the fragility of friendship, the corrosiveness of sudden wealth, and the dark side of good luck, Adele Parks’ latest domestic thriller will make you think twice about trying your hand at the lottery.
Adele Parks has brought her #1 Sunday Times sensation, JUST MY LUCK (MIRA Trade Paperback; April 6, 2021; $17.99) to the US!
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Who hasn’t dreamed of winning the lottery? I have made lists in my head of what I would do with my winnings, but they did not include some of the things that happened to Lexie and Jake. Every Saturday night three couples got together for dinner and companionship. They had been doing it for 15 years, since the women met at pre-natal classes. They also watched the lottery draw as they purchased a ticket each week using numbers they had come up with. They were all part of a syndicate, until the Pearsons and the Heathcotes dropped out. That was the week, their numbers finally came up and they win almost eighteen million pounds.
This is an interesting story with many twists along the way. I really liked Lexie. She was the only sensible one in the bunch. As she tries to real her family in, Jake goes on a spending spree. He buys a Lamborghini, allows their children to buy whatever they want and flaunts his winnings to everyone. I did not like him one bit. The others in this cast were complex, secretive and easily corrupted. Even the teenagers showed a mean and nasty side. Suddenly we find out that the friends have secrets that will rock their friendship. This is a story of greed and what that will cause people to do. It also has themes of selfishness, elitism, jealousy and lust. The story was mostly told through Lexie’s and Emily’s POV. As the final twists were unveiled, my jaw dropped. I will be honest, there were times I shook my head and skimmed some of the descriptions of Jake’s purchases and decadence. Maybe it is a good thing that I haven’t won the lottery. Fans of Domestic and Psychological Thrillers will enjoy this story. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.
Q & A with Adele Parks
Q: How much research do you do before beginning to write a book? Do you go to locations, ride with police, go to see an autopsy, etc.
A: For me, one of the best things about being a writer is that I get to poke around in so many different worlds. I am not limited to my own career or viewpoint. I can – and do – research so many other professions, lifestyles, businesses or scenarios. Over the years, I have shadowed people who worked in the TV industry, teachers, police, florists, charity workers, bankers, photographers, prison wardens, librarians…I pride myself on being as thorough as possible in my research, especially if someone else’s profession is involved. For example, with my novels that have any crime procedure included, I interview police people, I visit their places of work and I also ask them to read over the parts of the novel that relate to their world. It’s critical to me that I not only get the facts spot on, but also nail the tone of voice and language that might be used. For Just My Luck I worked closely with some people who work at the British lottery company, I also interviewed lottery winners.
I often join forums and support groups that relate to my plotlines, it’s a great way to research. I have joined forums for people who have won the lottery, others where the objective is to support alcoholics, forums for Alzheimer’s sufferers and those who care for them, and for people with rare specific genetic diseases. I always declare that I am an author doing research, because I think it’s only fair that people know who they are sharing with. I find people who have been through these challenging life situations are often looking to tell their stories.
I always visit the locations where I set my novels and become familiar with them. I research in galleries, museums and libraries too. I’m certain I’ll never attend an autopsy though; I’m fairly squeamish!
Q: What’s your favorite part of writing suspense?
A: I’m a great fan of the plot! I do pride myself on rather unexpected but utterly believable reveals and twists. The intellectual challenge of constructing plots is unquestionably my favorite part of writing. The best suspense novels continually astonish and defy the reader until the final page. How great is it when we think we’re heading in one direction, but the author spins us around and takes us somewhere else? That’s what I like to achieve, action that appeals to sharp, inquisitive minds.
I also love taking my readers on an emotional ride. It’s undoubtedly compelling for readers to track a seemingly ordinary family and then watch as something exceptional happens when they’re placed under extraordinary stress. I believe we’re all capable of horrendous actions under the right – maybe that should be wrong – circumstances. A fascination with darkness is part of being human. We all have light and dark in us but we’re not heartless, books provide a safe environment to explore these different lives without ruining our own or anyone else’s.
Q: What was your inspiration behind the book?
A: A friend of mine works for the lottery company in the UK. He was telling me fun stories about what winners spend on, what their reactions were to hearing the news they’ve won, how the lottery company has a duty of care towards the winners etc. It was all fascinating. Then he just casually commented, ‘We always offer to arrange security for their children if the win is seriously big’. I found that so interesting. Imagine, the best moment of your life, being handed a check for millions and then suddenly realizing your family were now at risk in a way they never had been before. That was the moment I thought, I really need to write about this!
Q: Do you prefer reading and/or writing suspense with elements of romance? Why or why not?
A: I don’t think I mind whether there is romance in a book or not, but I do need relationships of some kind. Without a doubt, the most important thing in life is my relationships with people, yes my romantic relationship – now limited as I’m married 😉 – but also my relationship with my son, my parents, sister, friends. For me, in real life, stakes are always highest when my relationships are threatened in some way, or when the people I love are in turmoil or jeopardy. I do not think I’m alone in this. Ultimately, the vast majority of us prioritize relationships over fame, money or career. I believe we are defined by who we love and who we are loved by. Therefore, in the suspense novels I write, I use relationships as a device that heightens the drama and the potential threat. Suspense novels do not have to be full of blood and dead bodies (although they can be!). I think the most successful ones are those where the reader feels a sense of familiarity and connection with the characters or environment. We believe the story really could happen, and most awfully, it could happen to us. For me, the best suspense looks at the horror that goes on in seemingly normal everyday families.
Q: From the books you’ve written or read, who has been your favorite villain and why?
A: What a great question, I’ve never been asked it before. Thinking about it now though, I realize I’m not a fan of the villain. I’m always rooting for the goodie, I guess I’m secretly very square. I do like writing villains though, possibly because they get to say all the harsh one-liners that I only ever think up way after the efficacy has passed! Villains are dangerous, extreme and usually selfish or cruel. They are also quite often glamourous and charismatic, so definitely fun to write.
Q: What hobbies do you enjoy?
A: First and foremost, I am a reader. I always have a book with me and most of my down time you will find me with my nose buried. I am also a big fan of upscaling furniture. I enjoy mooching around junk shops, vintage fairs and eBay. I am always buying bits of old furniture, which I then, strip, paint, stain, or have re-upholstered etc. I love finding something that is past it’s best and no longer loved, then breathing new life into it. I really value having unique one-off pieces, that have a story behind them, in my home. I also enjoy walking and practicing yoga.
Q: Do you have pets?
A: I have a moggy cat; her name is Lilac. She’s 10 years old and much adored! Sadly, she’s not really keen on giving or receiving affection; her area of expertise is looking incredible and treating the humans in her family with disdain. She’s quite a loud cat and ‘chats’ to me a lot which is fun!
About the Author: Adele Parks is the #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of twenty novels, including Lies Lies Lies and Just My Luck, as well as I Invited Her In. Just My Luck is currently in development to be made into a movie. Her novels have sold 4 million copies in the UK alone, and her work has also been translated into thirty-one languages.
She was born in Teesside, NE England. She studied English Language and Literature, at Leicester University. She published her first novel, Playing Away, in 2000; that year the Evening Standard identified Adele as one of London’s ‘Twenty Faces to Watch.’ Indeed Playing Away was the debut bestseller of 2000.
Since 2006 Adele has been an official spokeswoman for World Book Day and wrote a Quick Read, Happy Families as part of the celebrations of World Book Day, 2008. Adele has spent her adult life in Italy, Botswana and London, up until two years ago when she moved to Guildford, where she now lives with her husband and son.