This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
When I picked up Belinda Jones’ new novel, Living La Vida Loca, I got a little tingle of excitement just from looking at the cover. Because it’s pink. And sparkly. And has a picture on the front of a girl in a gorgeous dress (the swirl of which neatly forms a heart shape) doing the Tango with an equally gorgeous man. You couldn’t ask for a more perfect and enticing introduction to a chick-lit novel…
…or for a more endearing start. We meet our heroines, Beth and Carmen, when they haven’t even met each other. 8 years old, both of them are in love with the glamour of Come Dancing – exuberant Beth yearns to be one of the dancers while the quieter Carmen longs to be designing the beautiful, sparkling dresses. Why do they both love the programme so much? Because “for the duration of the programme, life is perfect. No one yells, no one cries and everyone looks like a princess”. Such a simple two sentences but somehow incredibly touching – from that moment on I was unashamedly rooting for Good Things to happen to Beth and Carmen.
Fast forward 20-something years and they’ve both realised their dreams – well, sort of. Beth is a dancer, her career in tatters after breaking two of her ribs in a dancing accident. Carmen is the costume designer she always dreamed of being, but trapped in a relationship with an emotionally abusive boyfriend. In the course of a long and drunken evening both girls agree that Something Needs To Change. And when they find an advertisement for a reality show looking for someone to travel to Spain, Cuba and Argentina, learning some of the most romantic dances in the world, it seems like the perfect opportunity to break free.
As they travel the world, studying the dances with a succession of smoulderingly handsome gauchos, matadors and dirty dancers, the two girls learn that a dance is more than just steps, and that the emotions it provokes can be enough to change your life forever.
I adored this book from start to finish – Beth and Carmen are both interesting, engaging characters in their own very different ways, and the men who flow in and out of their lives over the course of the novel are, while not always nice people, very well written and believable. There are a lot of novels out there about reality TV shows, but Belinda Jones brings a new freshness and perspective to the subject and creates an elegant, romantic novel that keeps you hooked right to the final bow.