I can’t really talk about this novel without spoilers, but it’s okay, because there’s not really a plot, just a love dodecahedron.
The Secret Diamond Sisters is the story of what happened when three sisters from the poor side of town find out their long-lost dad is a billionaire hotel owner, and are uprooted to become Las Vegas’ hottest new princesses/heiresses, when their alcoholic mother goes to rehab.
The problem with The Secret Diamond Sisters is that there’s not really a plot, it’s really just the romantic mishaps of the three sisters as each gets embroiled in their own love triangle. There’s really no plot involved, no bigger storyline than their love lives, and because of that there’s no climax, which from the books I’ve been reading recently seems to be the ‘in’ thing nowadays, cutting out a proper climax in the hopes that Book 1 of a series will draw readers into Book 2.
I’ll start with Peyton, whom we’re as a group supposed to hate, or at least dislike. Most obviously because she doesn’t like reading, which when you put into a book always means we’re not supposed to like the character because we the audience like to read. Peyton’s the eldest of the sisters and is a walking disaster. She’s vulnerable and rebellious and has a ‘fuck you’ attitude to hide her own insecurities.
She dithers between two different boys, Oliver and her new bodyguard. Neither wants her, and she cheats on her actual boyfriend back home in Bumfuck Nowheresville with one of them trying to make the other jealous. She’s a mess, but by the end of the book at least she straightens out a little bit, realises her mistakes, and vows to protect her sisters from making the same mistakes.
Courtney is the middle sister and the darling of the novel. She’s a hard worker, selfless, awkward around boys, and we’re supposed to love her because she’s a big reader (and actually spends time reading) and wants to travel. Courtney’s not interested in boys, she doesn’t have time for them because she wants to go to college and needs excellent grades for a scholarship. When Daddy hands over a credit card and tells her she can spend it on anything but a yacht, basically, she still struggles to spend any money she hasn’t earned herself, and even applies for a job in the hotel (which she is yelled at for, how rude!).
Courtney’s cornered by Oliver, who’s made a horrible bet that he can seduce and sleep with each of the sisters before school starts, but she secretly longs for her future step-brother, Brett. Eventually she takes a risk and of course we don’t know how it actually pays off because the novel just ends.
Savannah is the baby of the sisters, she’s fifteen and embodies all a vapid, self-obsessed, sheltered teen girl does. She’s boy crazy, an attention whore, and loves to be admired, but even though she’s musically gifted she gets terrible stage fright. Savannah loves being in Vegas and spending all the money she never has, and she’s convinced that if she gets the right look (makeover time!) and buys the right clothes she’ll finally be popular and wanted, like her best friend back home.
Savannah latches on to the first hot boy she sees in Vegas, Damien, whose intentions I never quite grasped. He seemed sweet enough, but when he started getting hot and heavy with Savannah on the second day they met, Savannah actually wonders if she should have just had sex with him, because he’s not going to be into her if she doesn’t.
Eventually a girl called Madison (we’ll get to her) ruins Damien’s chances with Savannah and she latches on to the first boy she bumps into, Nick, who’s Madison’s ex, and the two get along really well, like brother and sister. Also, this relationship also goes nowhere because the book finishes before anything becomes official, although you can pretty clearly guess what’s going on between Nick and Savannah.
Madison, mentioned above, is a surprise fourth point of view. With the book called The Secret Diamond Sisters I kept expecting some kind of plot revelation that Madison as the mysterious fourth long-lost half-sister, but that never happened. I’m pretty sure we only got Madison’s point of view because she’s a massive bitch who’s convinced the Diamond sisters are out to ruin her life because they keep drawing the attention of all the guys Madison is used to reigning over. Madison is crushing on Brett (Courtney’s), while her BFF Oliver sleeps with Peyton and dates Courtney, and her maybe-crush Damien is entranced by Savannah.
Madison’s character is quite well developed, maybe the best developed of the four point of view characters, but she’s a massive drama queen, an alcoholic, and obsessed with her looks, as well as declaring the Diamond sisters her nemesis for no real reason except that she seems to love the drama and attention, probably because her own parents are neglectful of her. Despite the confusion of Madison’s included POV, I actually really enjoyed reading her sections. It did reveal parts of the story we wouldn’t otherwise have known.
Overall I did enjoy reading The Secret Diamond Sisters. The descriptions of Las Vegas hotels were really beautiful, I really felt immersed in the book seeing as how my only exposure to Vegas is CSI: Las Vegas and that time in Friends Ross and Rachel got married. The lack of plot won’t bother those who simply want to read about three poor girls who suddenly have the world at their fingertips and all the boys they could possibly imagine.
My one criticism is the use of alcohol: Although Madow uses lots of fake ID, so many of the teens are heavy drinkers, and I know the drinking age is 21 in the US. I don’t doubt it actually does happen, but I personally would have thought the three sisters (especially Peyton) would have had more respect for the drug that destroyed their mother (whose own storyline also remained unfinished). I also would have loved to have seen more sisterly interactions, especially the sisters being protective of one another and not simply thinking it.
Thanks to HarlequinTeen Australia for providing this review copy for an honest review.