Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Cox by Kate Lace

Review by Ticky Dogge-Hare

Before I start, I have to declare a bit of an interest. I know Kate Lace—she’s a darling, by the way—and I absolutely begged her for a review copy of Cox the moment I knew it even existed. However, I wouldn’t have reviewed it even then if I didn’t think it was any good. So you can trust my judgement on this, at least, as far as you would trust it anyway.

Cox is a big fat glossy book full of drama and sex and plot twists, with a bulging crotch on the cover. And the thing about big fat glossy books full of drama and sex and plot twists (with or without crotch) is that they always, always get compared to Jilly Cooper. This is true of Cox, as you’ll see if you have a quick Google at the reviews, and it’s actually quite unfair. Must absolutely every bonkbuster published in the UK—and this is a bonkbuster, no mistake—inevitably bear the mark of Jilly?

Not that Jilly isn’t great of course, in her way; and you could definitely argue that Cox does tick a few of the appropriate boxes. It even has an arrogant blond sporting god as romantic antihero, quite a lot of drinking (and drunken sex) and one really outrageous posh houseparty. But Kate Lace is quite a different prospect, as bonkbusting authors go: her social spectrum is broader, her language less pun-tastic and her plot is a hell of a lot more relatable. Because, let’s be honest here, there’s always something a bit wrong in every one of Jilly’s books: weird at best (Rannaldini, all those fox puppets, that bizarre habit her heroines have of shoving leaves up themselves after al fresco sex), horribly disturbing at worst (Rannaldini again, anything non-consensual or underaged, domestic violence). Lace’s characters might be less than ideal, they might act selfishly or be dishonest or horny or a bit stupid, but nobody infringes anybody else’s basic human rights. This is about sex and relationships—and jealousy, and betrayal, and conflict—as actual people might experience them, assuming those actual people are terribly driven and competitive and a little bit overdramatic. It’s just the right degree of OTT, and the Olympic theme ups the stakes wonderfully.

This is a very thoroughly-researched book, and I know very little about rowing and care even less, so I must admit that the degree of technical detail made for a slow read at times; I find the usual horsey stuff a lot more interesting. But I still finished it in a couple of sittings and about a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, give or take a couple of glasses, because Kate Lace is a bloody good writer who knows how to keep the readers hooked. Even as they’re inwardly shouting at the heroine for being a total numpty. (You’ll see what I mean.)

What else can I tell you, really? If you do like a good bonkbuster (and Cox is definitely not for prudes: it opens with a blowjob and goes on from there), then you’ll probably like this one. It’s quite different from Lace’s Little Black Dress books—less sweet, more steamy—but just as enjoyable. Very much to be recommended.

Arrow, 544 pp, ISBN: 978-0099570820

11 comments on “Cox by Kate Lace

  1. Kate
    July 27, 2012

    Ticky, this one must have moved you deeply: you sound almost, well, serious. Was it a bad week? What’s a numpty? I’m glad you downed the bottle, give or take: that shows you were reading the book in the right spirit, I think, but was it because the book wasn’t really that much fun? Were there gales of laughter, or just numpty-shouting?

    I do agree with you about the Jilly obsession; Shirley Conran is a much better role model.

  2. tickydoggehare
    July 27, 2012

    Oh, darling, I was just trying to keep my end up — this is a terribly intellectual site and I thought I’d better make it a *bit* serious, but I promise you I was howling (as well as shouting) throughout. Numpty’s a fab word — learned it from Alex — it’s a bit like calling someone a daft so-and-so but it has that much more punch, I feel. Ticky xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  3. annebrooke
    July 27, 2012

    Ooh, this sounds so enticing – I do so love it when we’re straight in with a sex scene. Bliss! Bit put off by the rowing though, but maybe I can skip through that as I’m sipping my champers … :)

  4. Catherine Jones
    July 27, 2012

    Anne the rowing isn’t critical to the plot, just skip it. But there isn’t that much honest!

  5. tickydoggehare
    July 27, 2012

    No, Anne darling, despite my grumblings — there really is the necessary amount for context. Otherwise you wouldn’t know what on earth was happening and would get distracted from all the shagging. Ticky xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  6. annebrooke
    July 27, 2012

    Ooh, thanks, Catherine – will definitely give it a go – it can be my Olympics as I won’t be watching any! :)

    And, Ticky – one is never distracted from the shagging – shame on you! :)

    Ooh, and I just bought the Kindle version, huzzah! :)

  7. Hilary
    July 27, 2012

    Sold it to me! Thank you, Ticky darling. The sparkling Chardonnay is on ice … well, in the fridge. And the rowing isn’t even a bit of a turn-off – I look forward to learning lots. I love the bit about not infringing anyone’s basic human rights – had never occurred to me to apply it, but this will be my touchstone for romantic fiction from now on. I’ll have a name to give to the ick factor that occasionally creeps in, or a reason to cheer when it’s not there – the ick factor, that is. If you see what I mean. Which would be surprising :D

    MTA once again, the Kindle app = instant gratification.

  8. Catherine Jones
    July 27, 2012

    I really hope you lovely people who have bought Cox think it’s money well spent!

  9. suemoorcroft
    July 28, 2012

    Sounds excellent. I like Kate Lace’s books, anyway, so this is on my ‘must buy’ list.

  10. Hilary
    July 29, 2012

    It certainly was money well spent! A perfect read for the time – certainly it sits well with my enjoyment in watching the Olympic rowers.

  11. Kate Blackhurst
    March 13, 2013

    I really enjoyed this. I grew up in a rowing town (very near the ones in the book) so know a fair bit about the sport, but thought the ratio of boats to bonking was just about right. A preposterous story-line (I never heard a rower think their good performance was all down to the cox!) and perhaps just one misunderstanding too many, but otherwise very enjoyable – great summer read (I’m in Australia). Of course it will get compared to Jilly, but that’s no bad thing, and far preferable to some (you know who you are). At least all the sex sounds fun, is consensual and protected.

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This entry was posted on July 27, 2012 by in Fiction: 21st Century, Fiction: romance, Fiction: women's and tagged , , , , .

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