Review: Brake Failure by Alison Brodie


Releasing January 9, 2017

What it’s about:

Brake Failure is a contemporary romance with a kick-ass heroine. The story is set in  the months leading up to Y2K “melt-down.”

“Is it too late to tell him you love him when you’re looking down the barrel of his gun?”

Ruby Mortimer-Smyth is an English debutante, destined for Lady’s Day at Ascot and taking tea at The Savoy. She knows the etiquette for every occasion and her soufflés NEVER collapse.

She is in control of her life, tightly in control. Until fate dumps her down in … Kansas.

Ruby believes that life is like a car; common-sense keeps it on the road, passion sends it into a ditch. What she doesn’t know is, she’s on a collision course with Sheriff Hank Gephart.

Sheriff Hank Gephart can judge a person. Miss Mortimer-Smyth might act like the Duchess of England but just under the surface there’s something bubbling, ready to explode. She’s reckless, and she’s heading for brake failure. And he’s not thinking about her car.

With the Millennium approaching, Ruby gets caught up in the Y2K hysteria. She joins a group of Survivalists, who give her a gun and advise her to stockpile basic essentials, such as gasoline and water-purifying tablets. So she bulk-buys Perrier, Gentleman’s Relish and macaroons.

Ruby, far from home, is making Unsuitable Friends and “finding herself” for the first time. She falls in with a gang of Hells Angels and falls foul of the law. At every turn, she comes up hard against Sheriff Hank Gephart, whose blue eyes seem to look deep into her soul. She desperately wants him but knows she can never have him.

She’s angry at the emotions he arouses in her. Pushed to her limit, she bursts from her emotional straightjacket.

As the clock strikes midnight of the new Millennium, she’s on a freight train with three million dollars, a bottle of Wild Turkey and a smoking gun.

What happened to Miss Prim-and-Proper? And why did she shoot Mr Right?


Note: Alison Brodie wrote this story from first-hand experience. She lived in Kansas during this time and was stunned by the hysteria, unnerved that the US government was spending $150 billion preparing for Armageddon. As Lionel Shriver says in “We have to Talk About Kevin”: ‘1999, a year widely mooted beforehand as the end of the world.’

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☆☆➹⁀☆ 4.5 stars☆➹⁀☆☆ Review from Jules

Brake Failure is Alison Brodie’s latest romantic comedy. The story starts wide while Ms. Brodie introduces her characters. As the dual-timeline story progresses, the time lines converge, and the myriad of characters click into place in Ruby Mortimer-Smyth’s life.

Ruby and stepsister Claire are tightly wound and in constant competition for their mother’s approval. They marry well and aspire to be the favorite daughter; every conversation is a battle of one-ups-manship. Sadly for Ruby, she feels she has completely “lost” when her new husband’s job transfer is changed from Paris, France to a small town in Kansas. Instead of café au lait and the Louvre, Ruby gets rodeos, cow pies and Indians. One thing that remains the same “across the pond” is the mounting madness over Y2K.

I loved the quirky cast of characters Ruby meets once husband Edward goads her into meeting and befriending the locals. From wild-child Molly to survivalist lovers Mae and Idadel, each of Ruby’s new friends peel away a layer of her upper-crust veneer. Ruby’s constrained and contained life has her wound tighter than a top, but the colorful Kansans set in motion a series of events that has Ruby unraveling at a rapid pace. I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Brodie’s sense of humor and fun in this light-hearted novel. The new situations provide much humor—the Kansan’s perpetual questions about the Queen, Y2K craziness, and the differences between British and American English. It was delightful to see Ruby come into her own as she received more acceptance and appreciation from the Kansans than she did from her family who thought her average in every way.

Once underway, Brake Failure moves along at a good pace. The story starts which starts with a shooting, and then alternates between the hunt for Ruby and the events leading up to the shooting. Grab a copy of this madcap adventure and find out if Ruby gets a happy ending or a prison sentence!





☆☆➹⁀☆ 3 stars☆➹⁀☆☆ from  Jeannie:

Brake Failure has a good framework for a cute “fish out of water” rom com but, unfortunately, that framework was thrown into the wrong pond. The main character, Ruby, is a properly posh English girl who is ambivalent about her new marriage, but for the fact that it comes with a transfer to Paris and the first opportunity to finally top her sister, the wife of a petty noble. Her husband’s transfer is modified to send him to Kansas to woo a pet food account. Being as the story is set in 1999, Ruby finds herself in the midst of the low grade panic leading up to Y2K, surrounded by a menagerie of eccentric survivalists and other rural , midwestern tropes.

Needless to say, hilarity is supposed to ensue. But it doesn’t. Rather it’s an off putting hodgepodge of stereotypes and gags, that are further bogged down by shifting timelines and points of view. I couldn’t get into this story at all – and I lived though Y2K. It just didn’t work for me at all. Maybe if Ruby’s story wasn’t so tied to a specific event like Y2K. She’s a likeable enough heroine. She just needs to be in a different pond.



Previously posted review:

☆☆➹⁀☆ 4 stars☆➹⁀☆☆ from Frannie



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About the author:  Alison Brodie is a Scot, with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side of the family.  Alison was a photographic model, modelling for a wide range of products, including Ducatti motorbikes and 7Up.  She was also the vampire in the Schweppes commercial.

A disastrous modelling assignment in the Scottish Highlands gave Alison an idea for a story, which was to become Face to Face.  She wrote Face to Face as a hobby and then decided to send it off to see what would happen.  It was snapped up by Dinah Wiener, the first agent Alison sent it to.  Three weeks later, Alison signed a two-book deal with Hodder & Stoughton.  Subsequently, Face to Face was published in Germany and Holland.  It was widely reviewed, ie:  “Vain, but wildly funny leading lady.” -Scottish Daily Mail.  It was also chosen as Good Housekeeping’s “Pick of the Paperbacks.”

Unfortunately, Alison then suffered from Second-Book Syndrome.  The publisher’s deadline loomed and she was terrified because she didn’t have an idea for a story!  She found the whole experience a nightmare; and this is why she cautions first-time authors to write more than one book before approaching an agent.  She managed to finish the book – Sweet Talk – but it bombed.

While writing Sweet Talk, she moved to Kansas and lived there for two years.  She loved the people, their friendliness, their free-and-easy way of life, the history and the BBQs!  Sadly, her visa ran out and she had to come back to the UK – although her dream is to one day live permanently in America.  Now, Alison lives in Biarritz, France.

Alison has taken the exhilarating steps to becoming an indie author.  Her second ebook, THE DOUBLE, is out on Amazon Kindle with some great reviews.  “Excellent.” –San Francisco Book Review.

Alison writes contemporary romance.  She aims for a strong plot line, set against the background of a world-changing event, coupled with touches of humour, sexual tension and character transformation.

She loves to hear from her readers.

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Twitter – @alisonbrodie2

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Tour host: Star Promo Services



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