Simply Heaven, by Serena Mackesy
Now available as Kindle eBook
"You wouldn't take on a cleaner without checking out their references.
What possessed you to do it with a husband?"
When sweary Queenslander Melody Katsouris saves the lovely Rufus Watson from a watery death off the salt-pans of Gozo, the attraction is electric. Six weeks of blissful shagging later, the two are married at the registry office in Valletta. And it's only then that Mel discovers that Rufus is actually Charles Rufus Edmund Callington-Warbeck-Wattestone and that to his family, ensconced for a thousand years in the Bourton Allhallows estate in darkest Gloucestershire, an antipodean backpacker is far from the ideal wife. Trapped in a world she doesn't understand – a world of incomprehensible social nuances, rotting game birds and class-ridden locals – Melody slowly begins to understand that Rufus's mother and grandmother will stop at pretty much nothing to get rid of her. But even her wildest imagination couldn't have warned her just how far they are prepared to go – or that the skeletons in Bourton Allhallows' closets aren't merely metaphorical…
Published January 2005. I've always loved the great tradition of the gothic novel – The Monk, Dracula, The Mysteries of Udolpho, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, Rebecca: these were the books that fired my fevered adolescent fantasy and probably contributed to the twisted psychosexual being I am today. And I wanted to see if the genre and its concerns – the innocent in peril, the house of secrets, concerns for bloodline and faded glory and outward respectability - could be translated to a present-day setting. The main problem was the whole innocent-in-peril thing: what twenty-first century heroine worth her salt is going to embody the simpish, gutless qualities associated with traditional "innocence"? Anyway, I think I cracked it. I have to admit, this book is only partly spoof… SM
What the press said
"Serena Mackesy's new book may begin with a "boy meets girl" scenario, but that's about as far as the resemblance to most formulaic chick-lit goes. The story begins with a wedding – of extrovert Aussie Melody to English aristo Rufus – but that's only the start of this fabulously twist-laden and addictive read.
Wedding over, enter Rufus's family – coldly vicious to all outsiders who threaten their way of life, and devoted to the crumbling mansion that has been the family home for over 1,000 years. Melody's own family in Australia, including her forceful mother and self-made Cypriot father, are just as used to getting their own way.
As Melody tries to adapt to her new life, she starts to discover that there are more than a few skeletons in the closet – and also has to face up to the secrets she's tried to bury in her own past.
Mackesy is constantly pulling the rug out from under your assumptions, and while Simply Heaven is far from fly-on-the-wall realism of 21st century life… it is still thoroughly believable, beautifully observed and very, very funny. Imagine a modern-day Rebecca, mixed with a suspense-filled Gothic novel and served up with generous helping of wit – a real treat." Associated Press
"You can always rely on Serena Mackesy's heroines to be gutsy, intelligent and erring on the side of the strapping. Her latest fictional creation is no exception. A down-to-earth Australian reflexologist, Melody is holidaying by the Med when she falls for and marries English toff, Rufus. Overnight she finds herself the chatelaine of a mouldering pile in the Cotswolds. Even more terrifying than the damp sheets and slobbery dogs is her new mother-in-law. Mackesy's Mitfordesque comedy lampoons "the Land That Time Forgot" with irreverence and warmth. A love story to sink your teeth into." The Independent
"Mackesy brilliantly pitches humour against despair in this post-chicklit romantic comedy that overflows with cringeworthy accuracies about British society. The entertainment never dips and despite a climax that's completely bizarre, it'll be a massive hit with the 20 and 30-somethings." Saturday Record
"A gregarious tale" The Mirror
"Serena Mackesy's wickedly funny comic novel takes us on a rollercoaster ride, when love at first sight becomes "for richer for poorer"… An irresistible page-turner, packed full of shocking surprises and great laughs. You'll be rooting for loudmouthed, cheeky Mel all the way!" Mango
Far-fetched fun." Heat