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Welcome To The Real World (Red Dress Ink Novels) Hardcover – September 1, 2006

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Product Details

  • Series: Red Dress Ink Novels
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Red Dress Ink; First U. S. Edition edition (September 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373895909
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373895908
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,485,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fern Kendal, London bartender and underappreciated lounge crooner, wants a break as a singer. But, she asks herself in Briton Matthews's latest (after With or Without You), how can she get her big break when she's working two jobs to help support her brother, Joe (he cares full-time for his severely asthmatic son), and to subsidize her gambling father, who takes up residence on Fern's lumpy couch. She lands a part-time job as personal assistant to Evan David, a handsome opera singer, and, not shockingly, sparks fly. She's hesitant to tell him when Carl, her high school boyfriend and current accompanist, talks her into trying out with him for the reality talent show Fame Game (her "attempts seem so feeble compared to [Evan's]"). The show's judges ask her to appear on the show—but without Carl's accompaniment. Fern is torn between her deep friendship with Carl, her developing relationship with Evan and her quickly building career, but the knockout punch comes when Lana, a fiery Maria Callas–like diva, appears to set her sexy hooks into Evan. Matthews has a knack for snappy dialogue, though the plot twists involving Evan and Lana feel contrived. An apropos tearjerker ending caps this likable heroine's journey from lager-slinger to pop singer. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Popular chick-lit author Matthews returns with one of her most winsome tales yet. -Aspiring-singer Fern Kendal has always put taking care of her family above her own ambitions. Her brother, Joe, is a single dad with a very sick child. Her feckless father has just been kicked out of the house by her mother and has come to crash at Fern's place. Her gig as a pub singer isn't enough to pay the bills, so Fern takes a second job as the assistant to handsome -opera-singer Evan David. Although Fern doesn't know a thing about opera, Evan is surprised to find himself drawn to her anyway. But when Fern gets the opportunity to compete in the talent-search show Fame Game, she bolts, as much to escape accomplished Evan's inevitable disdain for the program as to give herself a real shot as making it as a singer. With a lovable heroine, a dashing hero, and plenty of twists and turns, Matthews' new novel has all the right ingredients. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Carole Matthews is an internationally bestselling author of hugely successful romantic comedy novels. Her unique sense of humour has won her legions of fans and critical acclaim all over the world.

As well as appearing on the Sunday Times and USA Today bestseller lists, Carole is published in 31 different countries. Her novels Welcome To The Real World and Wrapped Up In You were shortlisted for the RNA romantic novel of the year award.

In the USA, the hilarious For Better, For Worse was selected by one of America's top TV book clubs - Reading with Ripa on LIVE with Regis and Kelly - as their book of the month. As a result it went straight into the USA Today and New York Times Extended bestseller lists.

Carole co-edited two editions of the hugely popular Girls' Night In charity series called Girls' Night Out - one for the USA and one for Canada. All proceeds go to War Child. She has recently contributed a story to an anthology for the Romantic Novelists' Association, Loves Me, Loves Me Not. Carole has presented on television and is a regular radio guest.

Born in St Helens, Merseyside, Carole has always been an avid reader and dreamed of being a teacher, an air traffic controller, a travel guide or a hairdresser - writer never featured once. Leaving Liverpool for London after a torrid holiday romance in Torquay, she worked as a secretary, an ice-cream lady, a shop assistant and a beauty therapist. It was when she was working in a completely mad holistic clinic that she first thought 'one day I should write a book about this.' She still hasn't got round to it.

Customer Reviews

Something about her touches Evan, and he wants to get to know her better.
Diane Moore
Matthews just keeps churning them out, and her writing this time out is a bit stale, and the plot contrived.
Tracy Vest
If you're looking to be entertained with light, upbeat reading, I recommend this book.
Loves Books in MD

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Vest VINE VOICE on November 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Fern has aspirations of making it in the entertainment world. Barely scraping by doing double duty with her job as a bartender and crooner at the local pub, she reluctantly takes a day job as personal assistant to temperamental germ-phobic opera singer Evan David, to whom she soon becomes attracted. When her partner Carl asks her to audition with him for the Fame Game (think American Idol, or since this is the UK, Pop Idol), she does not hesitate to play hooky. When the show offers her a solo opportunity, Carl steps aside and tells her to take the plunge. Then the unthinkable happens ~ Evan is chosen as one of the Fame Game judges, and knowing his stand on wanna-bes, Fern gets cold feet and flees the live show.

Matthews just keeps churning them out, and her writing this time out is a bit stale, and the plot contrived. The plotting is slow - why the two of these characters think they are in love with each other is beyond me - they only interact in about 1/4 of the entire story, and both spend more time in bed with others.

I usually love her novels, but this time out, I can only give it a lukewarm recommendation. The plot, while interesting, fails to spark much interest, and the romance is just not non-existent. While I expect happily ever afters in romance novels, this one was just a little too pat. Just not what you expect from such an accomplished author. More like she phoned this one in.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Diane Moore VINE VOICE on November 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Fern Kendal is a barmaid at King's Head pub. Her dream is to be a professional singer, but until then, she belts out tunes with Carl as her backup for a few extra bucks. She lives in a shabby apartment and has befriended the mouse that lives within her walls. Her mom has left her dad after forty years and appears to have taken up with her new boss, Mr. Patel. Fern's dad has now decided he has Tourette's syndrome and yells out obscenities at anyone who passes by. Fern's best friend Carl has been in love with her since they were teenagers, but Fern feels nothing but platonic love for him. Fern's brother is a single dad caring for his asthmatic son who can't handle the air in London. Could things get any worse?

Actually, they get better. A lot better, hence the subject line. Carl hooks Fern up with a temp agency and though she has no skills, she sets off to be the personal assistant of a very famous opera singer, Evan David. Tempermental and having the sense of humor of a kitchen sponge, Evan manages to make Fern run away on several occasions. Something about her touches Evan, and he wants to get to know her better. He has been hurt in the past, so it will be difficult for him. But, she may be the one to open his heart.

I am an avid reader of chick lit, so I understand that at times, there are going to be some improbable situations. But, the whole book? I found myself sighing, rolling my eyes, and saying, "Oh, please!" on more than one occasion. Not only did everyone get everything that they always wanted in this book, it took 441 pages to do so. In my opinion, it could have been shortened to 150. There were too many added details that didn't need to be there and too much boy-meets girl, boy-chases-girl scenarios.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By RJ McGill VINE VOICE on November 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A lighthearted novel filled with quick wit and totally unrealistic developments that will have you rolling your eyes and laughing at the same time. Welcome to the Real World is built squarely upon the foundation established by the romantic comedy genre - it is an escape from the gloom and doom, stress filled world where dreams are crushed quickly and no one believes in happy endings!

With the popularity of American Idol soaring, believing regular people can achieve astronomical success is no longer a crazy dream, but an expected season finale. Capitalizing on this phenomenon, Welcome to the Real World weaves Fern Kendal's singing aspirations and a short lived opportunity to perform on Fame Game into the fabric of this fantasy tale that could only take place within the real world of Matthews creative imagination.

When Fern Kendal, barmaid and wanna-be singer lands the temporary job placement assignment of a life time, as the personal assistant for opera singing sensation, Evan David, what ensues is a genuine collision of polar opposites. While Fern has very little, lives in a shabby flat, works slinging lagers at a local pub, David rides in limosines, sipping champagne. Yet, they have much to learn from each other. Throw in all the complicating factors of Fern's family problems, asthmatic nephew and a best friend that has loved her since their teens, and there's a lot going on throughout this novel, much of which will take the reader by surprise.

Welcome to the Real World is one of those absolutely unreal, happily ever after stories that entertains the reader with quick humor and flaky characters. The lack of true interaction between the leading characters, Fern and Evan, makes their relationship feel forced and contrived. Most all "happy ever afters" are unrealistic in some way however, there's a bit too much "just go with me" in this one.

Happy Reading!

Chocolate Lover's Club is scheduled for release in February '08.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Kaplan on October 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I love Carole Matthews. She presents us with stories that could never happen, plots that are off the wall, endings that could only appear in Grade C fairytales--and makes us believers.

"Welcome to the Real World" is the story of down-on-her-luck Fern Kendal, who, when we meet her, is a thirysomething rather disheveled woman who lives in a practically derelict flat above an Indian restaurant, and earns most of her "money" (practically nothing) drawing beers and singing in the local shabby pub. She also takes other jobs, though, because her single-dad brother has a very sick asthmatic child named Nathan, and Fern's main concern is helping them. And her parents. And anybody else who needs it.

Fern sings with her retro hippie pal Carl, who has been her rock since they were both teenagers. Carl is madly in love with her, but try as she might, she simply cannot go beyond the deep friendship love she feels for him. So they sing away, weathering all sorts of crises (Fern's parents suddenly break up and her boozy dad comes to stay; Nathan is getting worse; and so forth) And then comes an improbable job--as part-time assistant to the biggest opera star since Paravotti, Il Divo himself,Evan David. And Fern, who has never heard a true aria in her life, finds herself in the middle of this superstar's wealthy, finicky life. We said it was improbable! And did we also say that Fern secretly wants to be a professional singer?

OK, all the pieces are in place. Check your mind in at the door and eat this confection with a great big spoon. It is simply delightful.
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