Thirst by Kerry Hudson

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Dave is a hunky security guard who catches beautiful Russian red head Alena shoplifting shoes in his department store. They fall in love.

An unorthodox meet-cute, but you expect this to be followed by dates, trials and tribulations, maybe advice from a sassy best friend, and then happily ever after.

But this is not your usual boy-meets-girl. Alena comes from grinding poverty in Siberia, is essentially trafficked to London and horribly abused. Dave comes from a grim estate and loses his mother to cancer. Dark days ensue.

Its a backwards, inverted version of the chick lit genre as Alena and Daveys’ pasts unravel. Almost a send up, but still has a real heart. Two damaged people finding love despite terrible adversity is strangely uplifting. Its a bit grim at times, and too soppy at others but I rooted for them all the way.

Mainly because I like Hudson’s writing. Even the peripheral characters are well drawn, avoiding a classic pitfall of stories about a couple. The settings are wonderfully real- if her description of Siberia is as anywhere near as accurate as her description of Hackney, I’ll never need to go there myself to see it.

If only I could just figure out why its called Thirst…?

Read: for a grown up, gritty love story.

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