Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“I do not leave behind an empire designed for you to fiddle away the rest of your lives while frolicking in pools of gold and gemstones. I leave behind a mission in need of a guardian.”
Argh, this book! Quite possibly one of the best chick lits I’ve read by a mile. It’s filled with wonderful characters, a very engaging plot and is just the perfect book for a quiet night in. I guess we’re all having a lot of those right now! Splitting Heirs by Diane Michaels is Book 1 of the Empire State of Mind series, and I’m so glad there’s going to be more books where this one came from. I really enjoyed writing this review – I think everyone needs to know how great this book is! Before I start, I want to mention that you can win a copy of this book (and many others) over on my book club’s Instagram page, @aquintillionreads! Give us a follow and check it out 🙂
A family fight over a New York-sized fortune? Fugetaboutit! In her dreams, Lauren sells the most fabulous properties in New York City. In reality, she’s scraping by on the tiny commission she earned seven months ago. Plus she just accidentally set fire to the only other listing in her portfolio.
Lauren hopes inheriting a small share of her eccentric great-aunt’s real estate fortune will be the win she desperately needs. But there’s no such thing as easy money. Before she can earn her inheritance, she has to compete against her family in a series of quests. To make matters worse, the quests involve the surprise reappearance of Johnny, the bane of her existence in high school and definitely the last person she wants to see. As the circumstances push Lauren beyond her limit, she discovers the prize she’s fighting for may not be what she thinks it is. And the more time she spends with Johnny, the more she wonders if she is also spectacularly wrong about both him and her life-long dream.
A perfect balance of humour and intrigue hit me from the very first page! You know that feeling you get when you don’t even have to read much to know that a book will be truly fabulous? That was exactly what I experienced here, and the pages that followed were just as witty and wonderful. Lauren is such a likeable character and is a real dreamer – in fact, she dreams big, especially where her career is concerned. It was very refreshing seeing a female main character with ambition and determination, and it was really rather contagious! Even though, in reality, she isn’t quite where she wants to be, I was sure her story would teach her a thing or two. After all, she managed to keep her cool after bumping into an old acquaintance and getting peed on by a Poodle – that’s got to count for something, right?!
The Piccolo family aren’t the most tight-knit group of people. We come to learn that there are cracks in this family tree, but some saddening news forces a reunion between both sides. I found it really easy to learn more about each of Lauren’s family members in one particular scene and the author seems to have effortlessly painted the perfect picture of this imperfect family. We get a shock as Lauren bumps into Mr Johnny Skeegs yet again, and I had to laugh at her reaction to this! Was there a reason why Johnny kept showing up in her life? Or was Lauren really that unlucky? The author subtly builds the foundations for the story early on, and even though we don’t necessarily realise it at this moment, it wouldn’t be long before all the pieces start to fuse together. It took me no time at all to get into this book and I only became more excited for Lauren’s journey!
I loved learning the ins and outs of Lauren’s job and the kinds of clients she works with to find their perfect homes. However, it’s not long before the bad luck begins at one of her open houses, and what should have been the delicious and inviting smell of cookies wafting through the house quickly turns into smoke! The author gave me such a laugh and I could really visualise Lauren’s reaction to this unfortunate catastrophe. I also liked the description of Leon too and just how much Lauren takes a disliking to this guest. Humour plays a big part in this book, so if you like a good giggle, you’ll love this. However, even though she dreams of a successful career and a happy life, it seems to be a little out of reach for her at the moment.
“No need to complicate things with a man, no matter how good I believe he can make me feel.”
With Johnny annoyingly still on her mind for reasons she simply can’t explain, I felt like there was still a lot more to uncover, and I was eager to find out what that was! Lauren potentially has the opportunity to sell her most expensive listing to date, or even live in her Aunt’s super swanky apartment rent-free, which sends her imagination soaring. How much different and more fulfilling would her life be if something like this happened?! I just hoped Lauren would get her wish, instead of these visions being another ‘if only’. The more I read, the more I thought that this story was completely different to any other chick lit I’ve read in the past, and already, I knew it’d stick in my mind long after reading that last page.
Wow! The story took a very unexpected turn! As Lauren and her relatives listen intently to Aunt Donna’s message regarding who will inherit her estate, they’re given a series of tasks; tasks that will show who is the most worthy and who will be most deserving of her fortune. I loved how this played out – it felt like the survival of the fittest! I was even more excited about which way this could go and ultimately, who would end up with the most precious ‘prize’ of all. We really see the true colours of all Lauren’s family members and some of their actions were shocking! The author has injected so much personality into these characters and made them so memorable. Even that one character Lauren really doesn’t want to see makes an appearance…
In fact, Johnny plays quite a big part in Aunt Donna’s tasks, and it’s quite the unexpected part! There’s a competitive feel throughout the middle of the book too, which I liked, even though it causes some unfortunate falling out between Lauren and her cousin/best friend, Emma. The more we read, however, the more we learn about this family and just how much Aunt Donna valued them, even if it didn’t seem this way on the surface. One of her goals was to get the whole family back on speaking terms through a particular challenge, which felt really heartwarming. The author keeps things interesting and consistent all the way through the book, and you can just tell writing engaging stories comes naturally to her!
As time goes on, Lauren finds herself being drawn to Johnny more and more. She begins to see a completely different side to him from what she remembers from school all those years ago – is it possible the two of them are actually compatible? I loved how the story covered the themes of loss, family feuds and love in such a unique and wonderful way, but Lauren’s feelings for Johnny could be detrimental to her chances of becoming her Aunt Donna’s heir. This made for some real nail-biting reading in parts! Lauren has so much on her plate; Johnny, the news of her brother losing his job, keeping things civil between her parents and cousin and the task of winning her Aunt’s property. With so much going on in her life, could she really prove herself worthy?
“Choose not to fight. We have no control over how anybody else acts. “
From learning more about Lauren’s mum’s relationship with Aunt Donna to putting her feelings for Johnny on hold for a while, emotions are still up in the air for Lauren. As well as the main story of who will become Aunt Donna’s heir, the author has created many more ‘side stories’ too, which were such a great addition. These stories assisted the main story well, and even gave us more understanding for each character’s motives. Relationships play a huge part in this story too, and it was an absolute delight to learn more about these characters. While I had no idea how the ending of the story would play out, I had some theories, and also some wishes for Lauren, especially after everything she’s experienced and put up with! I was curious to see whether she would get everything she truly wanted, or whether she would have to make some sacrifices.
Eeeeek! With a secret coming out in the worst possible way, another spanner is thrown in the works which could really affect Lauren’s success. My heart sank as I read – I think this was because of how attached I’d gotten to her throughout the whole of the book. I just wanted happiness for her! Johnny stands by her in times of need, and I have to say, my thoughts about this character had changed dramatically from where they were at the beginning of the book. The author has perfected this and changed her reader’s impressions effortlessly. Would Lauren be able to put things right with her relatives? Would she be out of the running for good? With so much at stake here, the ending of the book soon became more exciting than ever and I was keen to see how she’d fix this whole mess!
With the final task imminent, Lauren has to really prove her worth – more than she has throughout the entire journey. Thankfully, Emma understands how Lauren feels and agrees that she’s handled things in the right way. It was nice to know that she had someone else on her side and she wasn’t alone! The ending of the book was really enjoyable, with the perfect humour, dialogue and descriptions to really satisfy that inner book nerd. No matter how much I tried to find anything the author could improve on, my search was unsuccessful – I wouldn’t have changed a thing! With a few final details to explore before that last page, I was curious to know how the author would end the book, and whether she would leave us with a cliff hanger, or provide us with a nicely rounded of journey for the characters.
There is one particular scene close to the end of the book where Lauren airs all her family’s dirty laundry (metaphorically speaking) and it is absolutely FABULOUS. It was like one big cat fight! I hoped this would make her family see sense and that her feelings for Johnny weren’t the worst thing to come out of this whole situation. The entire story and the build up to the concluding chapters was so flawless and perfectly developed, and it was at this point where I was curious about how the second book in this series would play out. If it was anywhere near as good as this one, I’d be very happy!
“What do my dreams of landing multi-million dollar listings say about me? Am I also motivated by greed?”
The end of the book tells an important life lesson where family is concerned and it hit me right in the feels. Bringing the family together and restoring the peace was an important part of this puzzle! You can really see how much Lauren has grown throughout the story, and even Lauren and Johnny’s fate was a perfect story in itself. Lauren takes a long look at her career path and just exactly what she needs to do to get to where she wants to be – the whole thing was just uplifting and inspirational. We also finally get to see the split of Aunt Donna’s estate! It was a wonderful experience to see the story end the way it did and I’m now so excited to read the next installment of the Empire State of Mind series!
This book was just the pick-me-up I needed! I enjoyed it so much – from the hunt to find Aunt Donna’s perfect heir to understanding more about the importance of family, friendship and love, this story simply had everything I’d hoped, and more. The author’s humour, attention to detail and unique way of portraying her characters made this book so special, and I have no doubt in my mind that the next book in the series will impress just as much! A very worthy five stars – I definitely recommend this one for lovers of chick lit and a good old rom com.
Thank you so much to the author, Diane Michaels, for the copy of her book for me to review! You can pre-order your copy of Splitting Heirs now over on Amazon, available on Kindle or paperback. Make sure you’re following the author over on Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date with the release!