Ms. Bitch is the story of Tess, a romance author who loves scuba diving, her dogs and travelling. At the start of the book, Tess discovers her husband of just a year is cheating on her, and unravelling a whole host of lies and deceptions, feels she has to take a stand. So very shortly afterwards, she finds herself as a divorced 30 something woman, unsure of the direction her life is heading in, and with some serious trust issues to boot. She decides to spend some time revelling in her new-found freedom and heads off for a few days exploring the deep where she finds a bit more than she bargained for.

I had several reservations about this novel. Tess is a contradictory character who wants to be allowed to live her life her way as a strong and independent woman but seems to be desperate to hook up with a man as soon as she possibly can. She hates having any pressure or demands put on her, but has no problem at all in imposing them on other people by using emotional blackmail. She also allows herself to be a punch bag at times for her sister because she craves her approval, which made me sad to read, but seem to be a common theme  between warring siblings. I think she’s actually quite multi-dimensional, which works in real life or in TV/movies, but not as well on the page as it just seems like she’s contradicting herself a lot of the time. It’s a bit disjointed, felt a bit prescriptive and the characters other than Tess (and later, Aidan) were a bit text book.

In my opinion the title of Ms.Bitch is completely unsuited to the story, and I think it will leave a lot of people disappointed as they’re looking for a bitch of Jackie Collins proportions, not the sassy woman Tess actually is. I’m guessing the title is meant to be controversial so as to get people to notice it – but I do wonder if that will backfire if a romantic ‘pick me up’ is not quite what they had in mind.

It’s a nice enough read – it’s light and funny if a bit clichéd. It’s an uplifting read for anyone experiencing the hardship of a divorce, and for those who aren’t, there’s the romantic element, and Tess’s journey is entertaining and heartwarming enough. It’s obvious the author has an interest in scuba diving as the trips Tess makes are detailed and interesting, especially the shark dives! I like the writer’s style too, it’s warm and funny.

Don’t buy this book thinking you’re going to be reading an earthshattering tome on female empowerment or bad behaviour, because that’s not what it is…however if you’re looking for a beach read or feeling a bit disillusioned with your love life, you could do a lot worse than pick up a copy.

Thanks Pigeonhole book club for letting me read an early copy!