One of the things that struck me most about Luxury as I was reading it is that I couldn’t believe it was written by a first-time novelist – it’s the work of Jessica Ruston, who’s British, and I have to say it’s a remarkably self-assured debut – there’s a kind of confidence to this book that makes you think it’s written by someone who already has a string of bestsellers behind her.
Part of that confidence is how she has set up a plot that can’t fail – the book opens with a prologue involving Logan, Niccolo and Johnny, who are best friends and Harvard University students who vow to create great things together and become masters of the universe – the premise is that everything is possible and nothing will stand in their way.
Except! for a woman, by the name of Maryanne, who enters the story shortly afterwards and begins a relationship with Niccolo – they’re madly in love and all is going swimmingly until Logan meets Maryanne and steals her away and marries her
As the years go by and both Logan (assisted by Johnny) and Niccolo found great hotel empires, Niccolo is consumed by the desire for revenge and plots to get back at the man who destroyed his only chance for happiness.
At the heart of Luxury the book is Luxury the hotel, which is the most perfect, luxurious hotel in the world – Logan has bought a remote island and created a place where the most famous and privileged people on the planet can get away, have the best of everything, and do whatever they want in complete privacy – but – he didn’t bank on Niccolo, and things start to get very messy indeed.
For me, in this book there are elements of both Penny Vincenzi, who writes great, complex family sagas, and Jeffrey Archer – the aspect of the three friends who meet at university and vow to become titans of industry together, before falling out and becoming cutthroat competitors, really reminded me of classic Archer books like Kane and Abel and First Among Equals.
It’s a substantial read – about 400 pages – I got through it in a couple of sittings because I just really wanted to know what would happen to all these characters, but it’s a book you can read at your own pace and just escape into.
It’s brilliantly paced and there aren’t any saggy bits – and some fantastic characters, in particular Maryanne, for whom the luxury life starts to take a terrible toll, and Elise, a trophy wife who comes into the story later and puts things into a spin.
And usually, with good potboilers like this, but the time you get to the end things have been neatly wrapped up, but Luxury has a really intriguing and unexpected ending – which tells me we haven’t seen the last of Logan and Niccolo.
This review previously appeared on Coast.co.nz
Reviewer: Stephanie Jones
Published by Hachette