Friday, January 7, 2011

Book Review: The Perfect Manhattan by Tracey Toomey and Leanne Shear

Meet Cassie Ellis--a young college graduate with the world on a string, a yen for screenwriting, and a need for fast cash to pay off her student loans. Eager to avoid the lucrative snooze-fest of a reliable consulting job, she shocks everyone she knows by opting for a sexier, more flexible job: mixing drinks. Never mind that she doesn't know single-malt whiskey from Jack Daniel's: she's eager to learn. And under the tutelage of a sexy Soho bar owner, she's soon cranking out three-olive martinis with the city's glitterati fifteen-deep at the bar--all while angling for tips, fielding bad pick-up lines, and trying to keep up with the other bartenders who party as hard as their stylish clientele.
When Cassie accepts a summer gig bartending in the Hampton's, New York's most elite summer destination, she finds herself catapulted into a whirlwind of dazzling celebrity and over-the-top wealth unlike anything she's ever seen. Life behind the velvet rope is hard to resist, especially when she finds herself falling for a Hampton's hottie named James. But as the summer progresses, and she finds herself surrounded by playboys, moguls, spoiled rich kids, and Paris Hilton clones in strappy stilettos, she soon wonders if playing the ersatz socialite--while actually trying to make a living--is more than she bargained for.
Being a transplanted Brooklyn girl, to Long Island (and no...I do not pronounce it Long Guy-land) I never really got the allure of the Hampton's. I mean, yeah the richie-riches vacation out there in their summer homes, and during the summer the Hampton's is *the* place to be. But I never understood why your regular joes would shell out thousands of dollars for a share house, or drive over an hour to a nightclub all the way in the boonies to drink until their faces fell off. However I have *always* loved the bar scene....and always dreamt of mixing drinks behind a bar. There is something alluring to me about it, and believe me I do know the downside to being a mixologist although I never made a career of it. I would have to say I was a heavy party-girl from 20 years old until 24 or 25 years old. In a bar or night club 2 and even sometimes 3 nights a week as I had friends in the industry. I wound up even 'dating' a bartender for a short time. There were nights where I don't remember the drive home, and there were nights where the toilet was my best friend. There was the rush I got when I would work the bar for my boyfriend, and get strange guys to buy me drinks.The nightclub world can indeed be a very seductive force.  And I can honestly say that I am *so* glad to have walked away from that world and be way past that stage in my life.
The Perfect Manhattan by Tracey Toomey and Leanne Shear totally brought me back to my 'wild' days. Although I have only been out to the Hampton's on 2 occasions to play, from knowing of the clubs which are out there and reading this book, I felt like I was actually in the Hampton's. This book is drawn from experiences which these two women authors have had, while supporting themselves as bartenders, and I think they have captured the true grit of what it is like to live as a bartender, deromanticizing the profession. The caste system of the wealthy where old money looks down on new money has been in existence for several era's, and it was nice that it was brought up in the book too, to show that it still exists. And then you have the  'Pearl Girls' in this novel, which are the elite Hampton princesses, who look down on the working class, and refuse to allow an 'outsider' in to their world. This brought back many memories of the cliques from my childhood school years, up to when I would hang out in the nightclub where my boyfriend worked and his ex girlfriend would show up. It brought up past memories both good and had me cheering for the main character Cassie, as I related tot his young woman who was just looking to make some money to make it on her own. Do I think that 'The Perfect Manhattan' is an 'awesome' book which I will reread throughout my life? Absolutely not. I thought it was a fun read, as it takes place in my own 'backyard' and was very easy for me to connect with as I too was a party-girl. It made me reminisce about those days when I was carefree, and just looking for acceptance from my wealthier friends, so I allowed myself to get swept up in all the materialistic bullshit and drama. But it also made me realize that I had a blast int he last decade which made me who I am now...and that is not something I regret. I think this book is ideal for young women in their early 20's to it will show them that bartending is not 'easy money', and that if you're looking to meet 'the man of your dreams' the club scene is not the place to do it. It will also remind you to stay true to yourself.
You can purchase 'The Perfect Manhattan' your local book store as well.

This is book review # 2 for the Chick Lit Plus 2011 Challenge.


  1. Nice Review! I like the cover a lot!

  2. LoL...that cover really makes me jones for a nice cocktail. And for a book which is not necessarily a favorite of mine, it did have me up until the early hours of the morning, reading to find out what happens with the main character.

  3. Thanks for this thoughtful review! You brought up a lot of good points--it's funny for me to even read the book now, because I feel like Tracey and I have grown SO MUCH as writers that we now have a better sense of making a story deeper (aka, an "awesome" read rather than just a fun one). But like Cassie Ellis, our heroine, learned--you live, you learn! Thanks again for reading our book and for the thoughtful analysis. --Leanne Shear

  4. Leannne,

    I am very flattered that you actually found my review and stopped by to comment. I hope that it did not offend you, and I look forward to giving some of your more recent work a try. I am a budding author myself...and hope one day to be lucky enough to be in print as you are. ~Rose Lucivero~ aka Brown-Eyed-Girl