Spotlight: The Spa at Lavender Lane by Phyllis Melhado. Black Rose Writing, 2020
About the book – from Goodreads: From her elegant atelier office, Nadia Demidova discreetly monitors the arrival of her latest guests. Legendary doyenne of the fabled Palm Springs getaway, she can always tell from the moment the women arrive, which ones will be problems.
This group will not disappoint: a burned-out Fifth Avenue retail executive…a striking former model and Chicago socialite… an overweight Texas housewife on the brink of her second divorce and her beautiful, teenage daughter…and a CEO who, unhappy with recent plastic surgery, is secluded in her room.
Fortunately, Madame Demidova can rely on her Assistant Director to help manage the herd, not knowing that this valued employee is poised to make an audacious move.
Lust, ambition, secrets, betrayal, competition for the ownership of the world’s premier spa and a chance to snag the uber-eligible man who unexpectedly arrives on the scene are all on the menu at The Spa at Lavender Lane.
From Every Free Chance Reader
Can’t Visit a Spa? Then Read Phyllis Melhado’s The Spa at Lavender Lane
We’re inundated with suggestions about what to read while in quarantine: biographies of presidents, historical accounts of past pandemics, cookbooks with new recipes, and humorous accounts by nighttime comedians. But what we really crave is a well-written gossipy novel set in a luxurious resort populated by rich, shallow people we love to hate. If you were once a fan of Jacqueline Susann, whose Valley of the Dolls remains an all time bestseller, or Jackie Collins, author of Hollywood Wives (“Power! Sex! Money! Fame!”), then Phyllis Melhado’s The Spa at Lavender Lane, is the perfect escape you need now.
Melhado writes about what she knows, having once served as vice president of public relations for Estee Lauder. Located in Palm Springs, Lavender Lane provides A-type personalities a place to relax, exercise, eat healthy food, and, ultimately lose weight. The brainchild of Madame Nadia Demidovo, the spa is a favorite for models, corporate executives, and socialites who enjoy being pampered and have the resources to pay for excellent service.
As she has done so many times, Madame Demidovo prepares to welcome a new group of guests. First up is the former model Mavis Perkins, a spa regular, who begins her visit by complaining that her usual suite, which provides breathtaking views of the mountains, is occupied by someone else. Nadia is reluctant to reveal that Dr. Eleanor Franklin, CEO of Franklin Nutritionals, is still recovering from a botched plastic surgery, and is forced to extend her stay at Lavender Lane. But she shares enough with Mavis to defuse the situation.
Three of the other guests are first timers. Antoinette Etheridge (Toni), a buyer for women’s sportswear, is expecting, planning to co-parent with the father, Kevin, a designer who is gay, married, and shares Toni’s desire for a child. While Toni is excited about becoming a mother, so much else about her future remains up in the air. She’s worn out from her job and worried that she will never find Mr. Right, especially now when she’s pregnant. Texan Charlotte Tanner, has brought her teenage daughter, Lauren, hoping the spa stay will help them heal some of the rifts in their relationship. Lauren who has aspirations to become a model, is anorexic, while Charlotte hopes to lose the pounds she’s put on from her stress eating following her second divorce.
The spa’s assistant director is Phoebe Bancroft, a British woman who believes the time has come for her to share in Lavender Lane’s profits. Before Phoebe can arrange a meeting, Nadia is found in her suite, dead from a possible heart attack. The question of who will inherit Lavender Lane is quickly answered when Nadia’s will reveals she has a son who knows nothing about her existence. Peter Culvane, a successful lawyer in Boston, is stunned to learn, not only that Nadia is his biological mother, but that she has left him Lavender Lane. Eleanor Franklin breaks the news to Peter over the phone and he is soon on a plane for California.
Even the appearance of Peter doesn’t quell Mavis’ desire to take advantage of Nadia’s death. And once the very attractive Peter arrives on the scene, Mavis is even more determined to force some sort of merger. Charlotte and Toni also have ideas for how they might become involved in Lavender lane’s future. And Phoebe, of course, is the one with the most to lose. Having been at the spa for more than 20 years, she not only enjoys the work but considers Lavender Lane her home. What will happen if Peter sells the spa and there’s no room for her?
All works out in the end, although there are many bumps along the way, including a rescue. Melhado’s descriptions of the spa – the treatment rooms, the fragrances, the music, even the food – will be familiar to anyone who has ever visited a spa, whether for a few days or a few hours. Since we can’t visit one now, The Spa at Lavender Lane is the next best thing. You can read about presidents later."
Posted by Charlene Gianetti in Reading Around
The Spa at Lavender Lane – Book Review
"If you’re looking for a good read to get away from all the hoopla, here is your chance. The Spa at Lavender Lane is the perfect ‘escape’ book.
Russian immigrant, Nadia Demidova is a very personable and professional businesswoman. She has operated her spa for twenty-five years and addresses every need of its rich and famous clientele. This will be another week of pampering for her guests and she will stretch the limits of her staff to provide the best courtesies, no matter how small.
Phoebe Bancroft, her longtime English assistant will deal with the more demanding requests and has the grace of a gazelle when called upon to calm the waters. The professional relationship between owner and assistant is just that – professional. And Phoebe has devoted two decades to this company, and she is feeling the urge to take on a more ‘invested’ interest in the spa.
Already installed at the spa is Nadia’s dear friend Dr. Eleanor Franklin, CEO of Franklin Nutritionals. Eleanor is a widow and inherited her husband’s company upon his death. Her experience and training brought the company into the twentieth century. But now that she is aging, the company is looking to push her aside for a more youthful image. Eleanor is recovering from botched facial surgery and has holed up in the most luxurious suite that overlooks the grand Coachella Valley.
Next to arrive at the spa is Mavis Perkins, the former global model. Previous trips to the spa have taught Nadia that Mavis will push her patience, especially when she learns her coveted spectacular suite is occupied. It will take a minor miracle and some tactful persuading to coach Mavis into less glamorous accommodations. But will Mavis be more of a challenge to Nadia, or the other guests?
Arriving in a tizzy are 42-year-old Charlotte Tanner and her 15-year-old daughter, Lauren Fanning from Dallas. Charlotte is escaping her latest divorce from her second husband. Lauren wants to be anywhere but at the spa; typical teenager. Charlotte discovered she had a knack for stock market trading a few years back and her soon to be divorced husband had no idea that he might be trading up with a younger woman but leaving behind a financial genius.
Toni, or Antoinette Etheridge, is a 40-year-old pregnant woman. Toni is fleeing her former job in NYC as a buyer for a famous sportswear designer. She is attempting to find her next life as she longs to be a mother. At the moment she is unemployed to-be mother, but that will pass and by then Toni knows she will have mapped out her future.
There will be one more guest to arrive late to the party, Peter Culvane. What will his interest be in the famous spa? Though his breeding was just as extravagant as the other guests, and his tastes similar in fine dining and embellishments, exactly what would this successful Boston mergers and acquisitions man want at The Spa at Lavender Lane? Peter had never had a manicure in his life.
Despite all the drama that will take place over the next week, Nadia has important matters to discuss with her attorney. Unfortunately, before she can keep this appointment, she expires.
I loved The Spa at Lavender Lane. I’m always suggesting to my blog readers to read the acknowledgments, introductions, and other parts of the book. There are always interesting tidbits one can pick up. So I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the previous glamorous life of the author, Phyllis Melhado.
This is not Phyllis’ first publication. As the former VP of Public Relations for Estee Lauder, she has a few other credits to her name. You’ll have to read the book to find out. As one who has used Estee Lauder products for over four decades, I can only imagine the lifestyle Ms. Melhado has been endowed. It was a pleasure to read her latest publication."
Via Lovely Things NC
I ADORED this book. And the word barely describes how immersed I was from start to finish. Each character w me into a story I couldn't get enough of. Engaging, surprising, unpredictable, intelligent, and in gorgeous unaffected prose…and the sense of place---wow."
Gabriella Contestabile, Author of Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos: How Italian Women Make the Ordinary Extraordinary
Thrilled to Recommend:
PHYLLIS MELHADO’S “THE SPA AT LAVENDER LANE” is a rollicking good read. Perfect for sheltering in place, or reading in wide open spaces, the book is full of wonderfully developed, diverse female characters. This witty, Roman à Clef makes for can’t put it down reading. MELHADO’S fully formed characters bring to mind a more modern contemporary version of “The Women.” And yes, it’s that good! If you are looking for something to escape the rigors of your daily routine, “THE SPA AT LAVENDER LANE“ will massage and soothe your soul and your funny bone at the same time.
Coty-Award Winning Designer, Author and Cultural Icon Jeffery Banks, as posted on FaceBook and Instagram April 29, 2020
Take a peek behind the curtain of wealth and glamour in Phyllis Melhado’s sassy and sultry new book. The guests who arrive for a 10-day stay at the nation’s premier spa at Lavender Lane seem to have everything a woman could want: high-flying careers, social and financial prowess, access to haute couture fashion and prestige beauty products and even a bit of fame. Yet each woman is in need of rejuvenation from deep-seated insecurities, flatlines business motivation and failed relationships –problems that will require more than the spa’s renowned anti-aging quince cream to fix. As the women learn to trust one another, they each figure out how to take :a second chance at life, and reclaim what’s most important."
The Beauty Influencers (This Week With George Ledes) featured book of the week April 27, 2020
What a fun and sassy read! This book is perfect for a book club or your summer beach read this year. It's a slightly naughty yet laugh out loud story that stays with you. The author has a wonderful writing style deftly written characters and a well developed plot. I loved the ending, which I don't get to say often enough for books. I love that it celebrates the sense of being a woman, in all aspects of life; in loving herself, love relationships, friendships and even second chances at careers. I found myself totally engrossed with this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Well done!"
GoodReads Reviewer Sheri rated it “amazing.”
The Spa at Lavender Lane by Phyllis Melhado is quite an addictive story. This is very much a story driven by the main characters, each of which is a real person. They have been developed with real personalities and real-life issues and show that women really can reinvent not just the wheel but themselves too. You will bond with these ladies, some of them you will relate to, and you will read on because you want to know how the story ends. This is a story of life, romance, and humor, a story of second chances in life, love and in business. It’s a steady story but there is plenty going on; at times you will laugh out loud and you’ll feel every emotion – that’s how well written this story is. It is compelling reading and I highly recommend it for any woman and for anyone who simply wants to disappear into another life for a few hours."
5 Stars from Reader’s Favorite
Turn off your phone, get yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, a comfy chair or couch and get ready for a riveting read. It’s the perfect get-away from your daily life. This book will take you away from your problems and into the life of glamour and excitement. Oh, and get dinner ready for your family before you start the read, because once you start you won’t be able to put it down!"
Christine Schwab, Author, "Take Me Home From the Oscars" (Skyhorse) and "The Grown-Up Girls Guide to Style" (William Morrow)
Phyllis Melhado has written a wonderful, lively, bitchy novel populated with a cast of women, young and old, that make the Real Housewives look like Girl Scouts. You'll love them. You'll hate them. You'll be glad they don't live next door to you. The perfect beach read, even if there's not a beach within a hundred miles."
Charles Salzberg, Award-Winning Author of "Second Story Man" (Down & Out Books) and the "Swann Series" (Five Star Publishing)
Loved my stay at The Spa At Lavender Lane. Felt like the pampered guest—with the delight of being a fly on the wall. Melhado understands her rich, famous, demanding and self-indulgent characters. Now, if only I can get hold of the spa’s Quince Face Cream!”
Alice Simpson, Author, "The Ballroom" (Harper)
Leaving a lasting impression because of its serene, enclosed setting and its luscious, sensory appeal, The Spa at Lavender Lane is a charming novel about women at a crossroads.”
Loved the book. I REALLY LOVED THE BOOK!!! I thoroughly enjoyed every chapter, every character and all the twisting and turning plots!! I love your writing. Congratulations."
Paul Thomas, Artist and Broadway Executive
Destined for best-sellerdom!"
George Christy, The Beverly Hills Courier
Bravo Phyllis. What a great fun read. The characters are just wonderful and if I may say, you let it all hang out! So now I hope and pray that dreams come true and it will be on the NYT summer best seller list. You done good, talented girlfriend...keep going."
Lyn Leigh, Co-Founder, The Perfumed Plume Awards
The Spa at Lavender Lane immediately drew me into a world that I wanted to be a part of. From Nadia's celebrity guests to the handsome man turning all heads when he arrived - I found myself reading every chance I could to be with them and see what was about to unfold. Ms. Melhado's ability to bring characters to life, spin a story that twists and turns and makes you long for the sequel is truly stunning."
Vivienne Fleischer, Health and Wellness Blogger and Ergonomics Entrepreneur
The Spa at Lavender Lane offers a "satisfying mix of humor, sexual tension, female friendship, and spiritual rejuvenation… Melhado’s prose is smooth and sybaritic, giving one the sense of reading a novel set inside a series of glossy magazine ads."
5.0 out of 5 stars - Claire Booth Luce's The Women Updated
Phyllis Melhado has performed a miracle. In the Spa at Lavender Lane, she's written an un-putable-down wry, bitchy and witty version of The Women for 21st Century readers. With it's cast of rich, yearning, clashing and at times desperate women of all ages and twisty plot, she hooks you from the start. A perfect escapist book for today's shut-in, Pandemic starved readers.
5.0 out of 5 stars - Great Read!
Once you visit the Spa at Lavender Lane you won't want to leave. And, you won't have to spend $1,000 a day to be in this fun world, filled with engaging characters you will love, hate and definitely recognize.
5.0 out of 5 stars Now more than ever you need to escape to The Spa at Lavender Lane!
If you need an escape from your day (and who doesn’t once in a while?) go to The Spa at Lavender Lane... so much fun! Great for book club discussions too... Which character are you?
5.0 out of 5 stars - I want to visit that spa!!
Reviewed in the United States on May 20, 2020
What a fun and sassy read! This book is perfect for a book club or your summer beach read this year. It's a slightly naughty yet laugh out loud story that stays with you. The author has a wonderful writing style deftly written characters and a well developed plot. I loved the ending, which I don't get to say often enough for books. I love that it celebrates the sense of being a woman, in all aspects of life; in loving herself, love relationships, friendships and even second chances at careers. I found myself totally engrossed with this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Well done!!
4.0 out of 5 stars
If you liked Liane Moriarty’s novel Nine Perfect Strangers, pick this up! This is an amazing book filled with a wonderful and crazy cast of characters. This would be an awesome pick for a book club (when we’re done quarantining) or for a beach read. It just has that vibe about it. I never read this author before, but I will be looking into her. Her writing style is to die for and allows you to completely immerse yourself in the story. The sense of girl power within this novel is also AWESOME!
5.0 out of 5 stars - A perfect choice for the beach or your book club
Reviewed in the United States on May 20, 2020
Reading offers us the opportunity to rethink our lives, and meeting the women at Lavender Lane gave me the opportunity to review my past decisions and choices. Melhado reminds us that women's friendships are sustaining--until they are not. Whether you have been betrayed or blessed by a dear friend, this book will keep you reading into the wee hours of the night. A true winner!
Judith Ruskay Rabinor
5.0 out of 5 stars - Simply Fabulous!
I loved this. Every word of it. I wanted to have lunch with the characters, sleep with the handsome surprise arrival, buy the face cream and take a tennis lesson. A great cast of characters, terrific setting, a story that unfolded beautifully and moments that made me want to cheer. The Spa at Lavender Lane does wonders for its guests.... and its readers. Enjoy. Relax. Dive in.
5.0 out of 5 stars - Wonderful writing and great characters
Once you start this book you won't put it down. Melhado writes with depth and wit about women's friendships, rivalries and passions.
Carol L. Hymowitz
5.0 out of 5 stars - Fun at the Spa......
I enjoyed it. It was a fun read but it also showed the meaning of friendship, whether old or new. Hope there is another novel in the works!