Book Review: 'A Moral Dilemma' by Zara Kingsley

by - May 16, 2014



Rebecca Hardy wasn’t a naturally deceptive person, though she took quite well to the art of deception. Too well perhaps. She liked to think of it as helping someone out. Female camaraderie and all that. But it had gone too far. She had gone too far. She had, after all, ruined someone’s life. Hadn’t she?

Having theatrically caught her boyfriend cheating, Rebecca, convinced she was born in the wrong era, has had it with these modern day men. She has even less regard for these immoral modern day women, (of which she highly suspects her best female friend Abigail is one), who tend to prey on men in committed relationships. What is wrong with them?! Don’t they care that they’re breaking hearts and destroying lives?! Rebecca, with her high morals and family values, would never even consider dating a married man. Which is exactly why, it is of no surprise her friends are at serious odds, when Rebecca finds herself doing exactly that. Dating a married man. Albeit, at the fervent request of his wife; the notorious Isabella Coombs.

Isabella Coombs is one of Pamper Moi’s most important clients, and Pamper Moi is the elite Knightsbridge beauty salon, where Rebecca’s job as a therapist is hanging by a very fine thread. Out of the goodness of her heart - and fear of losing her job, Rebecca cautiously agrees to secretly help the highly emotional and seemingly insecure - but also very prominent, Isabella Coombs, find out if her husband Charles, would ever cheat on her.

But what Rebecca doesn’t know is that Isabella Coombs is not so much emotional and insecure, as she is a very good actress, with her own devious reasons for having Rebecca date her unsuspecting, principled husband. Believing her clandestine role as a human-man-trap is genuinely helping to prevent a fellow comrade from possible future heart-ache, Rebecca finds herself falling further into a tangled web of distorted emotion with Charles Coombs, where she alarmingly turns out to be the immoral woman breaking hearts and destroying lives.

But having ruined his life and won his heart, can Rebecca face the insolvable dilemma, of saving his life but losing his heart? And still find a hat in time for Ascot?


After reading the blurb for A Moral Dilemma I was really looking forward to getting stuck in. It sounded like it was going to be full of drama and it certainly delivered.

Becky is a girl who sees herself as being an old fashioned girl at heart, with very high morals. She clearly portrays her disgust at modern relationships; at the men who lie and cheat their way around, and the women who have no regard for the women in committed relationships. 

I loved the opening to the story with Becky going undercover to catch her cheating boyfriend and especially loved how responsive her friends were when she needed them by her side. Becky and her friends are all really relatable characters, and you really feel like they could be your owns friends. I love the different dynamics both Julia and Abby bring to the story as they each offer a different approach to Becky's problems and it is fun seeing them bicker between each other about how they should be helping Becky.

I think Kingsley's novel explores a really unique approach to morals - we are all quick to criticise those who lie and cheat in their relationships, but when you fall for someone you can't always count on yourself to behave how you'd expect yourself, or others, to. Kingsley also took a new approach as it's not often you find the wife of a man offering you large sums of money to try and get her husband to cheat on her! This was a very intriguing plot line, and suggested the theory that even when you're not out to have your judgement questioned, it can often creep up on you when you least expect it. 

It definitely makes you self-reflect as you become curious what you would do in Becky's situation - it makes the reader become very self-aware as you start to question, not only what Becky is doing, but what you would do. 

I really enjoyed A Moral Dilemma... it is fun, flirty and scandalous, and come on... who doesn't enjoy a dirty scandal every now and then! ;)

About the Author:

Luckily Zara Kingsley was born and raised in a City she loves living in: London, UK. And it’s just as well, as she can barely afford to go on a camping holiday much less move. She has an adorable 9yr old daughter, and is a single mom, who likes to think of herself as a bit of a yummy mummy, when in reality she’s still working on shifting a tonne of cellulite of her ass. She does actually make it into the gym from time to time, but admits that such visits are mainly to appreciate the…ahem …view

So what kind of stuff does she write?

Well, she writes what she loves reading: Romantic Comedy and the original kind of British Chick Lit. She doesn’t do vampires, werewolves, or horror. So if you like Bridget Jones or Shopaholic, then you might dig her stuff.

Zara Kingsley’s heroines are women in their late twenties / early thirties. Her heroes are hot, cute and not too hunky. Her stories are about life, love and friendship, with a few twists and turns and tons of fun. They’re not particularly deep, nor meaningful, they’re a light-hearted, easy read, that go well with a glass of wine and a few chocs, and just might make you laugh out loud.

Author Links:

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I had to do it. He’d left me with no other conceivable choice. He seemed intent on driving me crazy, turning me into a dithering, pathetic, neurotic maniac. The lying toe-rag!!
Becky, sweetie,” he would gently croon, whenever I’d mention the distinct scent of Dior about him. “It’s all in your imagination. You know you’re the only one for me.” Then more vigorously, “What the bloody hell is wrong with you!” when confronted with the unmistakable evidence of lippie on his shirt collar. “You really are going stark raving mad. And I thought I was. For a while. His reverse psychology skills were second to none. So I made a decision to either prove myself sane, or allow myself to be declared insane! I set about achieving mission (according-to-him) impossible, and catch him in the act.
I’d always fancied myself as a bit of an actress. I was still dancing around my bedroom at home, singing merrily into the hairbrush when I was sixteen years old! Yes, Annie had definitely left its mark on me. In fact, after watching that film, for the remainder of my childhood, I had wanted to be Annie (without the ginger hair and freckles, of course). I desperately wanted to be rescued by Mr Squillion Billion Dollar Man and have a dog called Rufus. Needless to say I never got rescued – but I definitely ended up with the dog. His name is Jeremy. And today I caught him cheating. So tonight, I’m kicking his lying toe-rag arse out of our apartment.
OK, I say I caught him cheating; well he wasn’t actually in the full throes of fornication or anything like that. It was more of a…foreplay situation, which in my world still counts. So how did I catch him? Well, like I said, I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of an actress, so; black bobbed wig, reading glasses, camcorder – hired not bought – even less make-up than usual, i.e. basically none, so as not to draw attention to myself, and a shot of brandy (YUK) for Dutch courage.

Wheelers, was an average enough, discreet British pub, on an average enough discreet City street, and was also Jeremy’s choice location for a not so discreet illicit tryst.
“Look, would you be ordering something or not lass?” the barman asked me with a slight Irish accent.
Shoo shoo shoo I had wanted to say, but for fear of him drawing any more attention to me, and in light of the fact that he was actually blocking my view of Jeremy and Miss Thingy, I quickly deduced that I had in fact better order something. “Coke please,” I snapped off, throwing down a fiver.
“Diet or regular?”
Oh for chrissakes, will you just move! Aargh! “Regular!”
“No!” rolling my eyes. He actually seemed to be enjoying this little exchange. Maybe he knew Jeremy and knew what both he and I were up to?! No. Not possible.
“Look, can you get me a coke or not?” I hissed.
“OK, OK, keep yer knickers on,” he said smiling cheekily and finally turned to go get me a drink. I quickly realigned myself to get a better view over the bar and through the window to the courtyard where Jeremy, the bastard, and Thingy were sitting extremely close to each other and laughing easily at this point. Still not incriminating evidence, but the night was young. I saw Jeremy lean into her and started talking into her ear. I would’ve said ‘whispering’ but he didn’t know how to whisper sweet nothings at the best of times let alone after he’d had a few, which by the way his face was flushed and his tie, usually perfectly positioned, was loosened and off centre, he obviously had.
“There you go now. Coke and change,” said the barman. I ignored him and continued fidgeting with my camcorder, hidden behind by handbag, whilst still keeping a sharp eye on the fornicators. “Pity you don’t get to catch the conversation with those things from a distance.”
“Excuse me?!”
“You need to get up real close to them to record conversation.”
“I haven’t the foggiest idea what you’re talking about,” I said turning beetroot, and started to scuffle about with the camcorder, desperately trying to stuff it back into my bag.
“Oh,” he leaned back comfortably against the bar, folded up his arms and nodded toward Jeremy and Thingy. “I thought for a sec you were spying on that pair.”
“I beg your pardon?!” trying my best to sound alarmed but at the same time careful not to draw any attention to myself…
“Oh, it’s no skin off my nose either way,” he said, “but let’s assume you were spying on that pair.”
“Which I am most definitely not!” I said furiously, whilst still trying to shove my camcorder back into my bag, but what, with my current state of panic and the fact that every time my head bent down my wig was starting to slip forward, I couldn’t quite manage it.
“Ah, but, if you were, you’d be doing it all wrong.” I looked up at him from under the fringe of my wig. “You’re too far away to even know what’s going on.”
“As I’ve already told you, I am not spying on anyone. But IF I were, I am able to see quite clearly exactly what’s going on.”
“Ah jaysus, you can’t tell a thing from what you see. They could just be having a great crack, with nothin’ in it at all.”
“Oh he’s having a crack all right.” I slumped on the bar, completely fed up, with the camcorder sticking out recklessly from my bag. I’d given up trying to tuck it away, just as I’d given up trying to film them. He was right of course. The barman. The footage I’d so painstakingly gathered proved nothing at all. Jeremy would be able to talk his way out of this one in a nano-second, and I knew that I’d believe whatever he would tell me, as per usual, because although I had doubts, many, many doubts, I never ever had any real concrete evidence of any disloyalty. We watched them silently for a few seconds, but when Jeremy slipped his hand up Miss Thingy’s skirt and started talking into her ear again, I just squeezed my eyes shut so I wouldn’t have to see, and so the barman couldn’t see the tears of humiliation that were starting to well up.
“Look, just pass it here,” he said reaching out his hand to me.
“The camcorder. I’ll get up close and record what they’re saying for yer.” I gave an incredulous stare and opened my mouth to say something, then as if on autopilot, I handed him the camcorder. “Ah, you can thank me later,” he said with a wink. And was off. Headed in their direction with the camcorder hidden underneath a bar towel on a tray. My heart started hammering against my ribcage and I wanted to dive under the bar and hide as he got to their table and started hovering, collecting glasses, wiping, and re-placing ashtrays. I half expected Jeremy to look up and wave at me but he didn’t even notice the barman floating around. Too engrossed in impressing Miss Thingy, which by the way she was giggling and batting her false eye lashes at each word he uttered, seemed easy enough to do. I looked at her. She was the complete opposite to me in every sense. Blonde, curvaceous, overly made up. She looked around twenty-eight but was probably twenty-four, whereas I may look twenty-four but am actually twenty-eight. She wasn’t so special. Fake hair, fake tits, fake tan. She was exactly the kind of girl that Jeremy would frequently refer to as “just a bit of fluff”. He would never betray me with just a bit of fluff… Would he? All of a sudden I knew that I did not want to know the answer to that question. I realised that I have never ever really wanted to know. I could live with my doubts. We had a good life together. He did love me, (albeit in his own bizarre way), and never made me feel anything other than number one…at least whilst he was in my presence. But that was OK. I could deal with that. What, I suddenly realised, I could not deal with, and more importantly did not want to deal with, was the actual factual knowledge that Jeremy, the man with whom I have built a wonderful life with and am expecting to grow graciously old with, would cheat on me. Because unlike a doubt which I can quite simply cast away to the back of my mind and allow it to gather cobwebs, a ‘fact’ would be a different matter altogether. A ‘fact’, a real life evidential fact, would most definitely need to be addressed. I felt a sudden stab of horror at that realisation; and started flapping my hands about like a maniac trying to catch the barman’s attention.
“Come Back! Come Back!” I mouthed in animation, but he just ignored me and moved to the other side of the table so he was standing right beside Jeremy as he moved in for another close-up with Miss Thingy. I watched the barman, wondering if he could hear what they were saying, and I swear I practically expired when I saw him shake a heavy head in disbelief.
The barman looked at me with an unfortunately sombre face as he came back to the bar. “Er, look lass, it’s none of my business…but is he your fella?”
“Yes. He is my boyfriend,” I said indignantly, and as he looked down with tight lips, I added with upturned chin, “Of several years in fact.”
“Right. Well…maybe you don’t really want to be listening to what’s on here then.” He tapped the camcorder and gave me a sympathetic look that knocked the wind out of me. He felt sorry for me. And he felt sorry for me because of what he’d heard Jeremy say to Miss Thingy? I inhaled deeply and stared at him defiantly, though I’m not sure why, as it really wasn’t his fault my boyfriend was a lying cheating toe-rag.
“It’s my camcorder and I shall bloody well listen to it if I so choose.” I feigned calmness as I placed the evidential camcorder into my bag and hopped down off the bar stool.

“You might want to have a…friend…come sit with you as you watch it though.” I swallowed hard and tried blinking really fast, but it was already too late. One must always be grateful for the small mercies in life, I said to myself, thinking at least I wouldn’t end up with panda eyes as there was no mascara to smudge. I nodded my thanks to the barman and turned to leave, but not before taking one last look at the joyful Jeremy, now nestling into Thingy’s neck. Jeremy. Humph. The love of my life.

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  1. Exactly Jess - who doesn't enjoy a scandal every now and then ...

    Fab review. Thank you for supporting Zara on tour.



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