The Real Katie Lavender tells the story of Katie Lavender who, a year after her mother's death, is summoned to a lawyer's office and is told that her mother has left her a letter. A letter that tells Katie that the father she thought was her own wasn't in fact her own father and that her real biological father is called Sterling Nightingale. It rocks Katie's world to its core and Katie sets out to find out exactly who the "real" Katie Lavender is. It may be quite simple of me, but I've always been confused when people in novels find out their life isn't what it was and they suddenly start questioning their entire being. All the "OMG I don't know who I am" has always grated on me. You know who you are, surely, but as I've never gone through something like that, I presume I'm somewhat innocent to it all. I was expecting the novel to perhaps take a while to get to the real crux of the story - of Katie going to find her biological father, but it didn't; it got right to it.
Whilst reading the book I was expecting a fairly sedate read - the covers of Erica's books all look rather peaceful - but it wasn't as sedate as I expected. In fact, there's a lot going on. Not only is Katie looking for Sterling Nightingale to see who he is, but the Nightingale family, as a whole, are dealing with their own issues are Sterling's brother and business partner Neil kills himself. The novel then follows all of the characters as secrets come out and relationships are made and broken and I found it to be a much more complex novel than I expected. Despite the complexities and the numerous characters and storylines flying around, I really, really enjoyed reading the book.
There are lots of characters to keep track of in The Real Katie Lavender, though it's relatively easy. Katie was by far my favourite character, I loved how she conducted herself with the Nightingale's, how she didn't let them drag her down to their levels. I also really, really like Lloyd, Pen and Cecily. All three are the only ones, bar Sterling, who seem to accept and like Katie and I loved them for it. Cecily is the most sprightly 90-year-old I've ever read. I didn't much care for Sterling's side of the family. I can see why they're all hesitant, but Gina, Scarlet and Rosco went above and beyond hesitant and were just plain rude and obtrusive. Sterling was on the fence for me. At times, I liked him, but at times he was just a bit of an idiot and despite understanding his position, it did still grate sometimes how he acted. It was a real mixed bag of characters, some I wanted to hiss at, but for the most part I did like the characters.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Real Katie Lavender. It surprised me. I was worried starting a novel that was 500 pages long from an author I'd never tried before, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's nice to be proven wrong sometimes and Erica James is definitely an author I would try again. In fact, I think I have Promises, Promises around here somewhere so I may just have to dig it out and give it a read. I would definitely recommend The Real Katie Lavender, it's an excellent novel about finding yourself. It was very addictive reading and I couldn't wait to read more and more and see how it was all going to pan out for everybody involved. I really enjoyed the book and it's a disappointment the cover is so dire because a lot of people will see the cover and be wary, but honestly, the book is worth it and the cover has absolutely no relation to the book.