A struggling café. A new reading group. A rather naughty reading list...
Estelle, a single Mum running the struggling Café Crumb, is keen to bring customers back to her business. When the local bookshop closes, Estelle sees an opportunity- starting a book group at the café. Estelle advertises locally and a small but select group is formed. We meet Sue who feels stuck in a marriage rut, vintage fan and staunch feminist Gracie, Rebecca who wishes to spice up her sex life with husband Andy, and studious Reggie, attending only to gain material about book clubs for his thesis.
Starting with Tess of the D'Urbervilles and progressing to a bestselling erotic novel, the book group explore a saucy reading list covering Marquis de Sade, Jilly Cooper and Shirley Conran. Inspired by the books they read, the members of the book club are soon having adventures of their own with romances blossoming and self confidence renewed.
I must admit that when I first saw the cover of The Naughty Girls' Book Club I was doubtful as to whether it would be my kind of thing. I've not really bought into the boom in erotic fiction, not for any reason other than I tried Fifty Shades of Grey and found it so badly written that I couldn't continue with it. I have read other 'naughty' books in the past and am certainly not snobbish about them. Riders, one of the books the book club read, was a favourite of mine in my student days. I just haven't found much of the new wave of erotica that appeals to me.
However, The Naughty Girls' Book Club is not really erotica. It does have some sexy scenes, but is actually more about the friendships that grow between the members of the group and their lives away from Café Crumb. The characters really grow throughout the book and are a diverse group- I am sure readers will be able to see aspects of themselves in Estelle, Gracie, Rebecca, Sue and Reggie. Plus, a book about books is always a success for me. Fans of erotic fiction will find plenty of suggestions for future reads, both in the novel itself and the additional recommended reading at the back. My edition also had a list of questions for book groups reading and discussing The Naughty Girls' Book Club.
Sophie Hart has written a book that is fun and flirty, frothy and frivolous, frank and forthright. It strikes a perfect balance between naughtiness and niceties, and reading The Naughty Girls' Book Club reminded me just how important true friends, those who accept you warts and all, really are.
A perfect holiday read for those seeking a story of romance, friendship with a touch of extra spice.
With thanks to Avon at Harper Collins for sending me a review copy of The Naughty Girls' Bookclub in return for an honest review.