Guest post: Welcome to Astonvale by Carla Caruso

12 Apr

My guest today is author Carla Caruso who joins us to talk about the setting for her new series. Carla was born in Adelaide, Australia, and only ‘escaped’ for three years to work as a magazine journalist and stylist in Sydney. Previously, she was a gossip columnist and fashion editor at Adelaide’s daily newspaper, The Advertiser. She has since freelanced for titles including Woman’s Day and Shop Til You Drop. These days, she plays mum to twin lads Alessio and Sebastian with hubby James. A Pretty Mess is her fifth novel. Visit to find out more about Carla and her writing.

Carla Caruso, author pic, HarperCollinsHello lovely fiction fans… and welcome to Astonvale!

That is the setting of my new rom-com mystery series, which comprises the titles, A Pretty Mess, Pretty Shore, and Pretty Famous.

Astonvale is a well-heeled (fictional) suburb in South Australia, with mansions set among leafy streets, ladies who brunch, and shiny four-wheel-drives galore. Think Desperate Housewives meets Gossip Girl.

Celeste Pretty has just bought her own postage stamp-sized abode in the area, which is very different from the ‘burbs where she grew up. The professional organiser de-clutters people’s homes and offices for a living and hopes to find many a client in her new ‘village’.

She does, but as tends to happen when you’re rifling through people’s possessions, she can’t help uncovering the occasional skeleton in the closet and becoming a reluctant sleuth on the side…

At her first gig in town, she meets the hunky builder, Lenny Muscat. There’s an immediate attraction but Lenny is the very definition of a commitment-phobe.

This is a little of how their first meeting goes… “Celeste looked up and into the coal-black eyes of an Adonis. An Adonis in a dirt-stained grey tee, cargo shorts and steel-capped boots. The coal-black eyes – which matched the healthy head of mid-length, wavy hair and faint stubble – were shielded by clear safety glasses. He was pushing a wheelbarrow of bricks, flaunting biceps like Rafael Nadal and sturdy, muscular legs like, well, Serena Williams – in an entirely good way. The mouthful of dust lodged in Celeste’s throat. She couldn’t decide whether she wanted to scrub the guy or jump him, even though clean-cut men were her usual type. Like Mitchell, her sometimes date from the lawn tennis club.

Celeste and Lenny are central to a colourful cast of characters. Celeste’s assistant is the very Gen-Y fashionista, Filippa Belmont, or ‘Flip’ as she likes to be known. Flip gets to share the spotlight with Celeste in Book 2, Pretty Shore, in which she falls for a holidaying model/polo player.

Flip’s diminutive grandma, Dolores, also drops in for a visit quite a bit. The sixty-something is known for wearing loud prints, even louder lipstick and her short brassy blonde hair in spikes. She gets about with her pet parakeet on her shoulder, too.

Dolores is a friend of Celeste’s hoarder dad. Yup, Mr Pretty is a hoarder despite Celeste being such a neat-freak. This seems to be his way of coping with the pain of losing his wife to ovarian cancer when Celeste was a child.

Then there’s Celeste’s nemesis, Imogen Karmel, who gets her time in the sun, alongside Celeste, in the third book, Pretty Famous. Imogen is an uber-blonde interior designer and Celeste’s former boss. Imogen is elitist, ruthless, good-looking and knows it, and her lifelong ambition is to marry a prince à la her idol, Grace Kelly.

There are more characters, too, like Celeste’s best friend, Betty-Lou, who is a baking addict and a nanny to triplets, but I don’t want to give everything away ;) Anyway, hope you’ve enjoyed a bit of an introduction to Astonvale and thanks kindly for your time!

Thanks Carla – I’m looking forward to visiting Astonvale!

Pretty Famous is out now in ebook formats from Harper Collins:

A dark secret from Hollywood’s Golden Age. A possible prince-in-hiding. Astonvale’s about to implode… eCOV_PrettyFamous_C1D2

Professional organiser Celeste Pretty swore she’d never work with uber-blonde interior designer Imogen Karmel again, but then she’s presented with a project she can’t refuse.

The prestigious Astonvale College is celebrating its centenary and needs the pair to ensure the festivities go off without a hitch.

As Celeste sets to work in a flurry of activity – in between organising her own engagement party – she finds herself blowing away the cobwebs on a sixty-year-old secret.

Meanwhile, Imogen becomes enamoured with a substitute teacher, Hudson Addison, who may or may not be a royal in hiding. And there’s nothing Imogen dreams of more than becoming a princess. Will all be revealed on party night?

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