Friday 15 December 2017

Champagne bubbles remain fizzy for finale

Our heroine goes undercover -- and keeps under the covers, Margaret Carragher learns
Champagne Secrets
Amanda Brunker
Transworld Ireland, €16.05

Sex appeal: Amanda Brunker places Eva the Diva in the murky underworld of London's strip
clubs to rack up stories for a TV show and notches on her bedpost. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Sex appeal: Amanda Brunker places Eva the Diva in the murky underworld of London's strip clubs to rack up stories for a TV show and notches on her bedpost. Photo: Gerry Mooney

In 2008 in Renards, the Dublin nightclub where Amanda Brunker once worked as a hostess, the self-styled model, TV presenter, party girl and former Miss Ireland launched Champagne Kisses, the first in a trilogy of novels charting the doings of one Eva "Da Diva" Valentine, gossip columnist, party animal and general good-time girl.

With her designer rag-bag of chums -- catwalk queen Maddie, minted "Princess" Lisa and maypole gay Parker -- Eva's reckless, fizz-swilling antics mirrored those of many perhaps not-so-bright young things hitching a ride on the Celtic Tiger even as it loped inexorably into extinction.

The boom-to-bust year of 2009 saw Eva go from Diva to Desperate Housewife, as she battled life-threatening illness, an errant husband, several spare tyres and the birth of her special-needs daughter Daisy, in Champagne Babes.

Now Eva the Diva is back, albeit undercover, in Champagne Secrets, the final book in Brunker's best-selling trilogy.

Having caught a footballers' wives catfight on camera phone and flogged the resulting footage to an English breakfast telly show, Eva duly bags the job of undercover TV reporter -- as you do.

Charged with capturing the doings of sneak thieves, drug barons and other such disreputables on a concealed camera whilst posing as a hostess in a seedy London nightclub, Eva embraces the task with customary gusto.

Meanwhile, her Auntie Maura, conveniently living nearby with her large and noisy Maguire brood, rises valiantly to the task of minding baby Daisy, leaving Eva free to rediscover her inner diva between stints of sequinned cloak-and-dagger escapades in London's murky underworld of strip clubs, crack dens and illegal drinking dives.

To this end, Eva is aided and abetted by her old chums, most notably Parker, who, recession notwithstanding, flies practically on a loop between Dublin and London to fund her party lifestyle with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of pink pounds.

Predictably, given her penchant for sex every which way with pretty much anyone that's even half way up for it, it doesn't take Eva long to rack up the notches on her bedpost.

But despite triple X-rated dalliances with the likes of Blair, a bleached-blonde Aussie toyboy with a "Brace yourself Sheila" line in sweet nothings, what Eva really wants is, yes, you've guessed it: good, old-fashioned lurve.

Enter, direct from central casting, the macho, lantern-jawed Rory, a photo-journalist who specialises in all manner of natural and man-made disasters, and is just back from risking life and limb in flooded, war-torn wherever.

It is, of course, love at first sight and Eva duly dreams of a rose-tinted Happy Ever After.

But having entangled herself in a web of lies: "My name is Alice, I'm running the London Marathon to raise money for Amnesty, I want to study photography ... " how can she come clean to her ideal man without losing him forever? Presuming, that is, she can ditch the dirty raincoat and emerge unscathed from the murky depths of undercover surveillance.

Two years ago, Da Diva's champagne-fuelled antics pushed her creator to Number 1 on Ireland's bestseller list. Despite the intervening economic downturn, there's little doubt she'll be keeping Brunker in fizz for a while yet.

Buy 'Champagne Secrets' from Eason

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