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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 1 February 2010
Early last year I read Kate Harrison's 'The Secret Shoppers Revenge' and liked it well enough. When I saw a Christmas themed follow up, I thought it would be a nice read for the holidays.

The Secret Shopper Unwrapped joins Emily, Grazia and Sandie two years after The Secret Shoppers Revenge ended and unlike the first, shopping was a mere whisper in the background this time around. Yes it's still there, but it's the three friends personal stories that manipulate the pages, and I liked this. I felt I really got to know and care for each and everyone.

Some pretty deep and sensitive issues are tackled in this book, and with great sensitivity too. Sandie in particular has a pretty rough ride and has to make some heartbreaking decisions. In the original book, I didn't really warm to her all that much. However, as we delve deeper into her life and her vulnerability is revealed, I really started to like and empathise with her very much. I also really enjoyed the softer side of Grazia, which we discover in this book. Her particular story is both sad and funny at the same time, and I loved the flamboyant and blunt, but incredibly kindhearted Italian glamourpus. I think what makes Kate Harrison's characters work so well is the complete belief I had in them. They are real, down to earth and I can actually imagine knowing them. I do agree with the previous reviewer about Emily, and at times find her a bit ridiculous but in contrast to Revenge where she dominates, she is over shadowed by the others this time round.

'Secret Shopper Unwrapped' is themed around Christmas, and is quite festive. This was a perfect book to treat myself to over the recent holidays, but I think it could equally be enjoyed at anytime of the year. If you read and enjoyed 'Secret Shoppers Revenge' you will love this book, which takes us deeper into the lives of the three women. I'd highly recommend both of them, but I do think this is by far the better of the two. Kate Harrison's characters had me laughing and crying along with them, and I can't wait for the third installment due out next year, I believe.
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on 21 April 2010
This novel reunites the characters from 'The Secret Shopper's Revenge' for a festive rollercoaster of ups and downs, highs and lows, laughter and tears, with each character facing down their own demons in time for the New Year. I'll hold my hands up straight off and say that I haven't read the first installment - though I probably will at some point, having enjoyed this one - but happily Harrison's subtle references to earlier events filled me in nicely without being glaringly obvious, so my enjoyment wasn't in any way dented by my Secret Shopper ignorance.

I liked the way that each of the women in the novel has her own voice, which keeps it fresh, and each of those voices was quite distinctive. Sandie might be pregnant and already has enough on her plate coping with her boyfriend's awful mother and her own broken family. Emily is trying to keep her fairytale emporium - and her relationship with the lovely Will - afloat while engaged in battle with her slimy ex-husband. Grazia isn't so sure that she can grow old gracefully after all. And young Kelly, Sandie's new employee, is slowly sinking under a past that just won't let her go...

It's pure fluff, of course, but it's well written fluff, and skims over a few profound issues to stop it veering into candyfloss territory. I found myself starting to get attached to these women and their lives, and hoping everything would turn out alright in the end... A good little read.
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VINE VOICEon 22 November 2010
Kate Harrison is one of my favourite authors - I love the humour and warmth of her books, and her characters are always entirely believable and 'real'. I've just read The Secret Shopper Unwrapped and think it's the best thing I've read by her - I found it impossible to put down once I started, and really engaged with all the different storylines.

The book follows on from The Secret Shopper's Revenge (although you don't need to have read the first to enjoy the second). Our three secret shoppers have different problems facing them now - Emily's getting on great with her new man Will but their shop isn't looking quite so healthy. Sandie is struggling to get her head around the reappearance of her mother, as well as having to keep a big secret of her own. And Grazia is trying to get her mojo back after the death of her husband, but can't help feeling her age... Is there anything she can do to make herself feel rejuvenated?

As well as these three, there is also a fourth character introduced to the mix - Kelly, who's down on her luck and angry with the world but deep down is vulnerable and feels lost. Having been on the wrong of side of store security guards many times in the past, she makes a natural shopping spy... if she can manage to stay on the straight and narrow, that is. How the four characters come together is cleverly done, and I ended up rooting for all of them during the course of the book.

The Secret Shopper Unwrapped is a great pre-Christmas read - it's funny, it's dramatic, and the characters are so well-written you'll feel as if you know them. Friendship, love and shopping - it's a perfect mix!
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on 22 June 2010
Emily, Sandie and Grazia are back in the sequel to The Secret Shopper's Revenge. Emily is living happily with Will and her son Freddie, they are trying to keep Bell's Emporium afloat during the recession. Things get worse when Freddie's father, Duncan is back on the scene. The demands he is making put Emily and Will's relationship under massive strain and Emily's dreams of a picture-perfect family Christmas are thrown out of the window.
Grazia is starting to think about her future without Leon. After going under-cover at a cosmetic surgery clinic, she decides to have a few procedures done but will this make her any happier? When she meets a younger man in a bar she is surprised as to how much they have in common and unsure what his reaction would be to her real age.
Meanwhile, Sandie is running the mystery shopping agency from Toby's gorgeous pent house apartment. She is incredibly happy but then she has her first meeting with the potential mother-in-law from hell; her own mother shows up several years after disappearing and then she gets a shock that changes everything.
Kate Harrison throws a new character into the mix. Kelly is a bit of a rough diamond, she starts work as Sandie's new assistant. This is her first ever job and she loves it but can she really be trusted 100% when Sandie hardly knows anything about her?
I did enjoy this book but it was very strange to read something set at Christmas when it is June and the sun is shining! It did make me feel extremely festive though and I only wish that I had read it at a more relevant time.
Emily, Grazia and Sandie are still brilliant characters but I wish there had been a little more interaction between them in this book. It was interesting to see what had happened since we left them and I thought that Kate Harrison gave us a really good sequel. Kelly is an interesting new addition and she certainly shakes everything up, you are left guessing throughout as to whether she can be trusted or not.
If you liked the first book then you will enjoy this one, I enjoyed reading it now but I think it would be even better in the run up to Christmas.
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on 26 February 2011
I really loved The Secret Shoppers Revenge so i was so excited to see that they were back and even better, back at christmas!! The book reunites the 3 main characters from the first novel, Sandie, Grazia and Emily. Each of their lives has moved on - Sandie is running her secret shopping and shopping consultancy (i so want that job!!!), Emily is living with Will and is trying to make a go of the shop Grazia is discovering life post Leon. All girls face new problems and challenges in this book but their friendship stands firm. The book introduces a new key character of Kelly who works for Sandie, and we start to see more of Will, and Toby (Sandie's boyfriend).

As christmas approaches, there are secret shopping assignments to be done, shops to improve and relationships to save.

I didn't think this was as good as the first book but still a great book - it's good to see the characters as they develop and move on. I did find Emily's character a little more flakey than the last book and at times a little annoying.

Overall a good read and i'm looking forward to the next in the series.
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on 4 December 2009
I loved the first book about Secret Shopping - and this one is also funny, satifiying and I can't wait to finish it!
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on 25 August 2011
This is the first secret shopper book I've read, so in a way I was coming in without background to a lot of characters, but actually it didn't matter. It was a bit like a soap opera, I soon picked up who was who and what was happening. I had such fun reading this book. It was one of those warm, friendly feel good reads that make you laugh and smile, and is just a nice easy journey.
You feel really close to all the characters by the end - I missed them when I finished the book! I rate books on my enjoyment of them, and this was just a lovely book to cuddle up with and I liked coming back to it, even when I'd left it a while since I'd read. So it gets five stars from me.
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on 22 August 2010
having discovered that this was the sequel to The Secret Shoppers Revenge i couldnt wait to read it. having left the 3 women at the end of the first book i felt there was more to come and was not disappointed. as the 3 women are back and being challenged in life, their relationships and themselves they are joined by Kelly who is having a tough time. Kelly comes to work for sandie and has her own problems to deal with. a great follow on book and i hope there may be another one as Sandie, Grazia, Emily and Kelly still have much more stories in them
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on 10 December 2010
I really enjoyed this book and 'Secret shopper's Revenge'.
They are 'chick lit' I suppose but well written. The characters are interesting, the situations not too outlandish like in some similar books. I liked the way you hear from each of the 'shoppers' in turn as the story unfolds. They encounter problems along the way, some of them nasty, but you know that somehow things will be sorted out in the end. Just the thing to keep me company and cheer me up when I needed it recently. Recommended.
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on 10 July 2012
The second in the secret shopper series, I do not want to write Trio because I so hope Kate writes another in the series, though sure it wont be just yet as a new book is due out soon. The three "charlies Angels" are a brilliant team, all so different , and all so believable, I miss them now I have finished all 3 books. Do not forget to buy all three books together or like me you will be mad when you finish one and are waiting for the sequel to arrive on your doorstep. Enjoy
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