Get past the cover! This is a great book!
Charlie, a girl in her early 20's, is just another over-indulged, wealthy daughter of Palm Beach who's major concerns are horses, parties and gossip. Then, her father commits suicide, her sister has a mental breakdown and her posh step-mother leaves them penniless. The beautiful life comes to a dead halt, and Charlie, who never even learned to wash dishes, has to get a job.
When Charlie sets out to discover why her beloved, pampering father would abandon them, knowingly leaving her sister and her without a means of support, she discovers more than she ever could image about him, herself and her abilities to "exceed expectations." She also discovers that PB society may not always get it right about love and class, when she meets and gets help from the brilliant young lawyer, Andy Garcia clone, Raul. Armed with Raul's encouragement, her own pride and tenacity, Charlie uses her only skill; modelling, to help finance herself and her sister while she travels from Palm Beach to NYC, across the US and to Paris in search of some answers.
I appreciate Lisa Smith as a seasoned author with astute writing skills after having read and reviewed her "Dangerous Lies" last year. She has a brilliance for conveying characters, and the intellectual capacity to place them in historical settings that sparkle with glamorous detail.
In fact, it's the authentic details of the time-periods that make it fun to read Lisa's book as it skips from Charlie's current days of the late 1950's and early '60's to the past Palm Beach and Manhattan, with hints of Sister Parish's posh interior designs, famous museums and artists, the fashions of different eras, vintage cars and high society parties. Her historical and fictitious characters work in sync as they are perfectly set in these time frames, and midst the transitory madness of WWs I and II Paris.
Lisa Smith's writing isn't over-blown with emotion and sappy romance; rather, it is sophisticated and subtle. It's witty, fun and sassy. There's love of family; and, there are affairs of the heart, pain and anxieties that accompany romantic relationships in difficult times, intrigue and madness. I loved this kettle of mystery and suspense that dominates her characters.
I'm a fan of Ms Smith's. I love a good story with interesting characters, a mystery and a romance that's not over-the-top but that rests securely in reality. I like foreign intrigue and the sophistication of art and society. Most of all, I so appreciate an intelligent author of worldly experience! If you do, too, you'll love "Exceeding Expectations." This book has a sequel which I'm dying to read!