Saturday, September 15, 2018

Book Review: The Holiday Cruise by Victoria Cooke

The Holiday Cruise

by Victoria Cooke

Amazon US / UK / B&N

As if it weren’t enough to be cheated on by her husband of ten years, Yorkshire lass Hannah Davis is losing her beauty salon business too. Luckily, her big sister is there to pick up the pieces, but Hannah is desperate to find some independence.

Impulsively, Hannah applies for a spa job…on a cruise ship! Christmas in the Caribbean, springtime in the Mediterranean, what’s not to like? But, despite being in her thirties, Hannah has never done anything on her own before, and she’s terrified.

As the ship sets sail, Hannah has never been further from home…or closer to discovering who she is and who she wants to be. 

My Rating: 

Favorite Quotes:

Her tight dress showcased an impressively pert chest that looked too large for her small frame. She looked like she came from a Mattel factory. What a weak, shallow fucking bastard he was. He could have at least been original… I could practically feel the frump grow around my body – each dimple of cellulite popped, my thighs started to bloat and swell, and the heavy sagginess of my breasts wore my chest down.

We’d both been cast aside like Primark hoodies at a marathon.

She was all blonde hair, and legs and boobs, so unless she’s left Daniel, I can’t see him giving that up. You know, I think in the end that’s what angered me the most. The fact that I – his loyal, caring wife with more than one brain cell and a business – wasn’t enough, that he was so shallow he thought Barbie was worth destroying everything we had for. We can all get a boob job and bleach our hair, you know!

I’m completely lost. That’s why I ended up here in the bar. It’s a default setting for blokes – we sit in a bar and await our rescue like damsels in distress.

‘I could ask Margaret, one of my new dinner table companions. She’s just arrived with her husband, Arthur, but she was giving me the eye all evening.’ He smirked. ‘Oh, was she now? So this Margaret, is she serious competition?’ ‘In all honesty, it depends on the lighting. She’s ninety-three but can pull off a black sequinned top like no other woman I’ve met.’

I can’t keep away. He’s like a neodymium magnet.

You’re going to be the most miserable traveller ever… How can you sit in such a beautiful city with a face like that? Your travel pictures are going to frighten small children.

My Review:

This lively and engaging tale was written from the first person POV of Hannah, an initially pathetic and tear-sodden woman who was so devastated by her husband’s betrayal and abandonment that she nearly allowed herself to fall to ruin. When her husband suddenly left her for his new Barbie doll simulation, Hannah crumbled and desperately begged him to stay then “spent a good six weeks wallowing in chocolate and alcohol.” Well, if you were going to wallow, that would be the way to do it, although I would also need to add in my two favorite handymen/therapists who can make virtually anything better - Ben and Jerry. Her business failed in her irresponsible absence and she was in danger of losing her home if she didn’t get pull her head out of her nether region when happenchance leads her to seek employment with an international cruise line. Brilliant. I wish I had thought of that in my misspent party-girl days!

I greatly appreciated the painstaking investigation and the extreme hardship the author must have gone through while researching this book. The ocean passages, cruise ship encounters, European touring, foreign dining and exploratory travel experiences had to have been most grueling – smirk. I truly did enjoy reading the pleasantly appealing and lushly detailed travel and cruising experiences as I felt as if I was there encountering them with her. The writing was well-paced and wryly amusing while also observantly insightful, emotive, and at times heart-squeezing. The plethora of diverse characters was interesting and endearing although there were many times I wanted to give Hannah a good hard pinch. I smirked my way through Hannah’s initial and exciting foray into loosening up and making new friends with her much younger cruise ship co-workers with a night of Jäger-bomb fueled lubricant which resulted in vague memories of partying like a twenty-year-old, drinking shots off a man’s stomach, an attempt at pole dancing, and the cheek burning walk of shame from a fellow crewmate’s cabin the morning after.

The cruise ship experience was ultimately an excellent diversion and confidence building training ground as the humdrum Hannah transformed from a caterpillar to a butterfly while she succeeded in previously unimagined experiences and formed new friendships, scuba dived, enjoyed exploring foreign cities leisurely and independently, hiked, learned self-defense, gained a healthy body through healthier eating and exercise, and fell into a sweet and supportive and excitingly forbidden ship-board romance with a mouth-wateringly handsome passenger. Oh, the thrill of forbidden kisses. And score, I have a new addition to my Brit Vocab list with the interesting entry of “Phwoar,” which apparently should be enthusiastically pronounced as fwaw, and according to Mr. Google is British slang for expressing sexual attraction, which sounds so much better to me than the alternative Brit saying of “you pulled.” Am I right? 
~ snort!

Empress DJ

Author Bio –

Victoria Cooke grew up in the city of Manchester before crossing the Pennines in pursuit of a career in education. She now lives in Huddersfield with her husband and two young daughters and when she’s not at home writing by the fire with a cup of coffee in hand, she loves working out in the gym and traveling. Victoria was first published at the tender age of eight by her classroom teacher who saw potential in a six-page story about an invisible man. Since then she’s always had a passion for reading and writing, undertaking several writers’ courses before completing her first novel, 'The Secret to Falling in Love,' in 2016

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