I give a lot of weight to first impressions; there were several typos in the blurb and one in the first sentence (even allowing for the 'first sentence' to actually be a quirky chapter title--this is not evident until seeing further chapters as it is not in bold or italics--which does not cite the original source).
Read the story now
The first thing I noticed as I was introduced to Nik and her friends is how very well-read they are; the word choices both in dialogue and narration often drew attention to themselves. In the first chapter alone I found: entrails, querulant, unagitated, rattan (misspelled), bohemian, heedlessness, nonsenses, preposterous, provocatively.
The writer is without question intelligent and is attempting to set an interesting, idiosyncratic scene with identifiable characters - but the dialogue doesn't always come off as realistic, and any word choices that draw attention to how clever they are...are simultaneously pushing the reader out of the story.
Further vocab words noted throughout the manuscript: vagabond, ubiquitous, euphoric, chambermaid, provocateur, culminated, reminiscences, intractable, obnoxious, macerated, crystallized (misspelled), quadrate, stupefied, ejaculate...
Overall the technical side of things was pretty good; some minor typos and occasional tense changes.
The largest issue I struggled with beyond the slap-in-the-face four dollar words was the plot movement. For the first seven chapters there...basically wasn't any.
Very little conflict and zero stakes; I was reading about four people on vacation and their interactions, while excessively intelligent, remained unstimulating.
Things do ramp up in Chapter Seven, to be sure - more than one-fifth of the way through the story.
Also...the source of said conflict is something that, while worth exploring, needs to be handled extremely carefully and might turn off some readers. (I wasn't a fan at all, if I'm honest. One of the four main characters committed, knowingly or not, a harmful act towards a minor and from what I read received no comeuppance or punishment)
The Character Agency of Nicole might benefit from some tweaking; in the first third of the book she seems to stay at a very even keel. She's not being dragged around by the ear, but neither is she doing much to advance the story. She's just...on vacation.
Once the mess does hit our heroes, the inherent conflict as they try to untangle it was compelling, if ultimately unsatisfying for me personally.
One odd note; there's a Mature Content warning in Chapter 32 that comes after the Mature Content the reader is warned about.
And finally the Epilogue reveal feels not like a natural story closer but a rather blatant attempt to interest a reader in a sequel. As though Chapter One of Book Two had slipped in.
The writer is definitely talented; that I could be as interested as I was in a largely plotless narrative for seven full chapters speaks to their ability. Lots of potential here!