Summary: Meet Tess Drake. She’s earned everything she has. Now it’s time to get what she deserves…
Sexy super-agent Tess Drake has worked hard to make a name for herself in the glamorous yet cut-throat entertainment industry. Tess works at an international agency, where she skillfully manages some of the world's biggest egos—her company, Bardwell International operates in the thrilling, fast-paced worlds of Rights, wrongs and revenge. Tess has been an agent there for longer than she cares to remember and now she's in trouble. Real trouble. After the mysterious death of the agency's senior partner, Lowell Bardwright, Tess's sworn enemy, Cosima Tate, has taken over and would do anything to send Tess's career down in flames. And Cosima is only one of the rogue’s gallery of agents in London and New York who want Tess to take a fall.
Tess has another little complication, too. She’s sleeping with men on both sides of the Atlantic who are in bed with the women who are trying to sink her. -- St. Martin's Press
I first heard about THE AGENCY by Ally O'Brien a few months ago when I won an ARC from Book Room Reviews. I thought it looked good, but I placed it on my bookshelves with the intention that I would get around to reading it someday. Then, I was contacted by Sarah from St. Martin's Press about hosting a giveaway for 10 copies of THE AGENCY. I jumped at the opportunity, but I really wanted to read and review the book before the contest ends on the 20th so I could share my opinion with all of you.
This giveaway was just the impetus I needed to read THE AGENCY; and I am so very glad I did. THE AGENCY was a very entertaining book (and to think, it was just sitting on my bookshelves.) I'm not really sure what I was expecting of this novel, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I did enjoy it. I found myself laughing out loud many times while reading it, and I was very impressed by how the author(s) -- more on that later -- kept my attention. In fact, I read the last half of the novel in one sitting because I couldn't put it down.
I want to preface my comments by saying that I am a huge fan of books with outrageous British characters. And, Tess Drake is going to go right up there with some of my all-time favorites. I have to warn readers that she is rude, crude, ruthless, immoral, etc., but I absolutely loved her. Even when she was at her worst, I found myself rooting her on. Some of my favorite parts of the novel were her insights about her co-workers as well as her "pretend/imagined comments" to them.
As I reading this book, I couldn't help but be reminded of the Ari character on the HBO series Entourage. I couldn't wait to make the comparison of Tess as a "female Ari" in my review, but then I read Entertainment Weekly's review and they made the same reference. (By the way, they gave the book a B+.) I found it very interesting (and entertaining) to see a female main character who possessed traits that are usually reserved for successful business men.
One thing I really enjoyed about this novel was the mystery angle of the story. Tess' boss is found dead (in a very compromising position) at the beginning of the novel. Because she is a suspect in the murder, she finds herself wondering and eventually investigating who the real culprit might be. The mystery is solved by the end of the novel, but the reader is definitely taken on a road with some twists and turns along the way. I have to admit that I found myself surprised quite a bit in the last section of the book.
Ally O'Brien is actually a pseudonym for international bestselling author Brian Freeman and London-based entertainment agent Ali Gunn. I can't imagine writing a book like this together, but they did a fantastic job. It's apparent that Ali Gunn provided a lot of the insight into the business side of the story while Brian Freeman most likely developed the suspense side. I am very impressed by this combination and I'd certainly be willing to read more books by them (especially if Tess appears again.)
After reading this book, I can definitely say that I recommend it (if you're not easily offended by sexual content and language. If it sounds like a book that you'd like to read, make sure you sign up to win one of 10 copies courtesy of St. Martin's Press.