BOOK REVIEW: A Pretty Mess by Carla Caruso

08 October 2014

A Pretty Mess
by Carla Caruso
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, Chic Lit
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Australia
Date Published: October 1, 2014
Format Acquired: ARC from Publisher via Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo Books
My Rating:

Sometimes, to come clean, you've got to get your hands dirty ...

Celeste Pretty, a self-confessed neat freak, has found the job she was born to do: a professional organiser, de-cluttering people's homes and workplaces. Her new business gets off to a cracking start when she lands her first client, health and fitness guru Natalia Samphire, in the well-heeled suburb of Astonvale. But things get messy at Natalia's mansion when Celeste finds a blackmail note and other mysterious items. And then there's Lenny Muscat, the sexy builder renovating the place, whose constant presence is muddling Celeste's usually organised brain.

When things get decidedly suspicious at the mansion, she and Lenny have to team up to investigate. But will Celeste emerge with her heart and professional reputation unscathed?

Celeste Pretty just landed her first client as a professional organizer and it's none other than the oh so famous health and fitness guru, Natalia Sapphire who just moved to the high life suburbs of Astonvale. A lot of pressure though, especially when there's an Adonis builder by the name of Lenny Muscat, working in the same place, who constantly gets her all riled up. But when things start to get weird and out of place, with blackmail letters and mysterious items popping out of nowhere, Celeste teams up with Lenny to investigate, but spending more time with the gorgeous hunk means she's got to steer clear and guard her heart. 

This is the first book I've read of this author, and originally, I'd thought that Carla Caruso would have been English due to her interesting and sophisticated writing style. I assumed wrong, because she's actually from Australia! But nonetheless, that doesn't change my thoughts about the author, and I plan to read more of her works. If you're a fan of Sophie Kinsella's writing, you may find Carla Caruso's work to be quite similar, along with the language and the humor too. But I'd say there's also big differences between the styles of the two authors. 

In A Pretty Mess, we meet Celeste Pretty, a professional organizer -- basically her dream job, because she's a total neat freak -- and she just landed her first client, a big one in fact, in the name of Natalia Sapphire, a health and fitness guru, who just moved in the suburbs of Astonvale. When she starts working on Natalia's home, Celeste and her young preppy assistant, Flip, discovers various mysterious items in her home -- an anonymous blackmail letter, a gun and a drawer filled with lots and lots of sweets. Just who is the fitness guru really?

But of course, a chic lit is definitely not complete without the man candy: Lenny Muscat, builder. Owner of Muscat Building Group working on the renovations of Natalia's mansion. "An Adonis in a dirt-stained grey tee, cargo shorts and steel-capped boots" as described by the author. Total yum.

Upon having found out about the mysterious items and suspicious acts by Natalia, Celeste and Lenny team up to investigate and find out what Natalia is hiding. 

"I run a business called POPink, Professional Organising on Pink."

"An organiser, huh? So when you tell someone you're rearranging your sock drawer, you really are." He squinted at the card again. "Although, shouldn't it be P-double-O-P, not POP? As in, Professional Organising on Pink?"

Now if I had been Celeste, I wouldn't even be pissed if I was told that because let's be real, I'd be drooling and totally mesmerized by this god standing before me. Celeste, to me, comes off as a stressful character, with her work and her father being a total hoarder, Flip, her slutty teenage assistant and Imogen, her ex-boss who's always there to ruin her. 

"The only Lenny I know sings and has the last name, Kravitz," Celeste murmured before she could stop herself.

"It's short for Leonardu, which is Maltese. Some say I'm as sweet and irresistible as a Malteser."

Now, if you're thinking that Lenny is one hot smartass, then I'm glad we're on the same page, because he is as sweet and irresistible as a Malteser. He's definitely one of my favorite male characters and the perfect hero. He's charming, funny and most of all, he's a man who handles his own bucks and business. Now that's the kind of guy us girls should all be looking for, aye? Downfall? He's not interested in a relationship, but we can change that, can't we? Celeste can, for darn sure.

These two are just so insanely cute together because of the constant bounce between their love-hate relationship. Celeste, the organized, prim and proper; Lenny, the spontaneous hottie who doesn't mind getting his hands dirty. Their relationship build up comes off as a slow burn, definitely not the lust at first sight -- well, maybe a just a little bit on the lust. 

I love how the story line isn't the typical cliche romance where the whole story revolves around the lead characters (though I wouldn't mind a story like that too), because this book got me reading continuously due to the thrill factor. This story may be quite short, but it's filled with tons of unexpected funny and kind of scandalous twists and turns. Big kudos to the author for that. Also not to mention the secondary characters, how they are given specific personalities that make things more interesting. A big downfall in a story is when other characters turn out to be too plain and are particularly just backdrops in the story, but in this book, Carla Caruso surely defined each and everyone with a particular personality. And since this seems to be  start of a series, I'm expecting a Betty-Lou (Celeste's best friend) story next.

This read was definitely a great one, no matter how short it was and can easily be read in one sitting. If you're looking for a short, exciting, romantic read, this book is surely for you. 

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Carla Caruso was born in Adelaide, grew up amid a boisterous extended Italian family – yet somehow managed to become a bookworm...

Carla always wanted to be a novelist, annoying the kindergarten teachers by dictating long, detailed stories to them. It just took her a while to realise her childhood dream - journalism seemed a more practical course. Her media career has included stints as a newspaper and magazine journalist, government PR and fashion stylist. These days, she works as a freelance journalist and copywriter. She began seriously writing fiction three years ago when she went freelance full-time. 

The romance genre appeals as she is a sucker for rom-coms (especially if Channing Tatum is in the mix) and likes to think her Italian ancestry means she lives with passion. Hobbies include watching trashy TV shows, fashion (her mum named her after Carla Zampatti!), astrology and running.


  1. Thanks a million for the review! You totally got me. And I LOVE Sophie Kinsella :)

    1. You are very welcome, Ms. Carla! I hope you do write about Betty-Lou next, she's a fun character. ;D

  2. Your reviews are always good my dear! I remember you telling me on KIK about this book, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I love Sophie Kinsella, so I'm definitely going to read this author's work as well! Thanks for sharing ! :D

    1. Thank you so much Tika! <3 Check out her book, it's a fun read. ;D

  3. Hey, I've tagged you in the 7 Deadly Bookish Sins! Check out my blog for the questions and to see my answers:
    I'd love to see your answers so let me know when you've completed it! :) Jennie

    1. Thanks for the tag Jennie! Will check it out :D


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