The Arielle Lockley series is a narrative world steeped in fashion, romance and follows a protagonist who wants everything for nothing. I found it extremely hard to settle into Kept by Elle Field. I enjoy chick lit every once in a while – often a lighter tone to my usual choices and a lot more enjoyable on the weekend after a heavy week at work.
My first impression of Arielle Lockley, main character of the series, was one of disdain. Materialistic with no common sense at all, I didn’t care for her. More often than not, when I wasn’t being annoyed by her, I felt sorry for her – a feeling I don’t like to share with female narrative leads. These instances of sympathy happened as Arielle realises she needs to make up for lost time and a lot of her mistakes, including debt, weighing her troubles on her parents and not keeping in touch with old friends. As Arielle is 25, it is easy to empathise with some of these situations as a reader at 23.
I was really hoping for the story of a girl who becomes a woman in her own right. Arielle becomes driven by her love for fashion, but for the majority of the story does absolutely nothing about it which is a little frustrating. Just as she literally falls for her an extremely rich boyfriend – first met as he knocks her to the ground – her business venture at the end of the story literally falls right into her lap from an old woman, Felicity. There are very few challenges for Arielle, which unfortunately makes the plot too simplistic. The flashbacks can also make it Kept difficult read.
There are many supporting characters throughout Kept that also appear in the second instalment Lost. Arielle’s new, rich, lover causes a lot of confusion – although her showers her with money and gifts, I detected a few undertones of manipulative bullying. This was also clear in the second instalment of the series, Lost, where we see a lot more distance between the couple, despite preparations for their wedding day.
I was really hesitant to start Lost and actually put it off for a few weeks. However, this story was a hell of a lot more enticing. The distance from her husband, although for unfortunate reasons, means that Arielle finally looks inwardly and starts looking out towards her own future. No longer kept, there is a lot of growth in her character, her attitudes towards friends and family and her acumen as a business woman – despite a lot of mistakes. I really began to get on with Arielle throughout Lost. Her thoughts and actions become much more considered, and although she doesn’t always get it right, she finally becomes grounded in the real world. Again, she experiences many events that negatively impact her ability to move forward, but she always overcomes them and increasingly seeks to do this independently.
As she enters a world of tweets, blogs, pop-up shops and hard work, I really began to connect with her and couldn’t wait to finish the instalment. All I wanted to know is if everything works out for her, which is a huge leap forward from Kept, where I just wished she would receive some comeuppance. The plot is a lot deeper the second time round and also considerably slower, which makes Lost just so more enjoyable.
There is also a greater focus on the supporting characters. Ob, Arielle’s best friend, gives this chick lit some much needed humour. Finally, a completely lovable character who I really wish had ended up with Arielle. They seem to be the perfect balance for each other.
Arielle’s business partner, Felicity, also has a greater role to play throughout Lost. She quickly ages throughout this instalment and becomes victim to dementia. The way the author has embedded the illness into her narrative, giving fleeting glimpses of its effect is gentle, honest and extremely well executed.
Elle Field has also used Felicity’s character to enhance Arielle’s growth as a young woman. Where she begins in the first instalment only looking out for herself and for monetary gains, Arielle really becomes much more compassionate for others and loves Felicity as a member of her own family, prioritising her health and wanting to succeed just to make her proud.
For me, Lost really saves the Arielle Lockley series. Ending on a cliff-hanger of ill fate, I genuinely can’t wait to read the final instalment. I hope I get to read about the girl who has finally found herself. I’d like to thank Elle for sending me her books in exchange for an honest review.