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  • Title: Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay
  • Author: Ali McNamara
  • Publisher: Sphere
  • Publication Date: 27th June 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

Amelia is a single mother, doing her very best to look after her young son, Charlie – but money is tight and times are tough. When she first hears that she is the last descendent of the Chesterford family and that she has inherited a Real-Life Castle by the sea, Amelia can’t quite believe her ears. But it’s true!

She soon finds that owning a castle isn’t quite the ticket to sorting out her money problems that she’d first hoped: she can’t sell, because the terms of the ancient bequest state that any Chesterford who inherits the castle, must live there and work towards the upkeep and maintenance of the family home. So ever-practical Amelia decides to uproot her little family and move to this magnificent castle by the sea.

Living in a castle on the beautiful Northumberland coast is fun at first, but organising the day-to-day running is a lot more complicated than Amelia first imagined. Luckily she has help from the small band of eccentric and unconventional staff that are already employed there – and a mysterious unseen hand that often gives her a push in the right direction just when she needs it most. It’s only when she meets Tom, a furniture restorer who comes to the castle to help repair some antique furniture, that Amelia realises she might get the fairy-tale ending that she and Charlie truly deserve…

My Thoughts:

Ali McNamara is one of those authors I turn to when I need a glimpse of sunshine on a gloomy day. Her books are like a tonic for the soul and I always relish reading them, so when I found out about Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay, I knew that I was in for a treat.

Amelia is a character that I think many readers will connect with, her tale is one that is heartbreakingly real and one that many will be able to synpathise with.
Changes in circumstances has meant that life has been tough for Amelia and her son Charlie, she tries her utmost to protect him from the realities of it all. Her constant struggles to make ends meet are wearing her down, worrying if she has money to pay bills, put food on the table, she always has tries her hardest to do what’s best. So when she hears of an inheritance that could change her and Charlie’s lives, she can’t believe it!

What then follows is a wonderful and heartwarming tale of Amelia getting to grips with life in a castle, learning how it’s not all glamour and glitz as Disney might have us believe. The castle staff are an eccentric and fun bunch, their personalities feel so authentic and genuine, and it’s hard not to feel a liking for them, although some more than others. As Amelia’s adventure in Northumberland unfolds, readers are rewarded with seeing a different side to her, her confidence grows and she becomes more self assured. But she also opens up about her past, we find out about what happened to cause her and Charlie to live in such tough circumstances. It all adds to the likeableness of this character and secures her place in your heart. She’s the sort of character that you root for, you wish there’s a happy ending for and you’re almost racing through the pages to find out if things work out ok for her.

I’m purposely avoiding saying anything much about the plot of this book, it’s one you will have to discover for yourself, and I hope you fall in love with it as much as I did. But I will say that there is something magical in these pages … Ali’s writing to be precise. She is a wonderful writer, and always manages to transport me to the settings of her books. I could feel the claustrophobia of the tower staircase, the awe of the portraits in the galleries, the ethereal feeling that comes with a castle setting … it was all so vivid.
A highly recommended summer read, and the perfect escape!

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cover

Published 13 July 2017

 

Description:

The magical new summer novel by the author of Little Flower Shop by the Sea

One summer, property seeker, Serendipity Parker finds herself on the beautiful west coast of Ireland, hunting for a home for a wealthy Irish client. But when she finds the perfect house in the small town of Ballykiltara, there’s a problem; nobody seems to know who owns it.

‘The Welcome House’ is a local legend. Its front door is always open for those in need of shelter, and there’s always a plentiful supply of food in the cupboards for the hungry or poor.

While Ren desperately tries to find the owner to see if she can negotiate a sale, she begins to delve deeper into the history and legends that surround the old house and the town. But for a woman who has always been focussed on her work, she’s remarkably distracted by Finn, the attractive manager of the local hotel.

But will she ever discover the real truth behind the mysterious ‘Welcome House’? Or will the house cast its magical spell over Ren and help her to find true happiness?

My Thoughts & Review:

I must confess that this is the first book written by Ali McNamara that I’ve read, I do own a couple but they never seem to make it up to the top of the reading pile sadly.  But after reading “The Summer of Serendipity” I’ve rescued the other books, bought a few more and will be slowly losing myself in the wonderful world that McNamara creates for her readers.

The plot is full of mystery and intrigue, our leading lady Serendipity (Ren) is on a mission in Ballykiltara to find the perfect retirement home for a client with her assistant Kiki.  The dynamic duo eventually find the perfect house but cannot find out who owns the property to make an offer to purchase it.  The more they ask locals about The Welcome House, the more complex the mystery becomes.  No one knows for sure who owns the house, some saying that the house has always been there since the time of the monks and Viking invaders, some saying it’s a place of sanctuary for travellers, a shelter with food that asks nothing more of people to replace what they have used (if they can).  With so much folklore surrounding The Welcome House Ren and Kiki look to the local priest for help, but instead of shining light on their mystery, Father Duffy imparts wisdom onto Ren that makes things more complicated.  And if that wasn’t enough for Ren to struggle to get her head round, there’s also a wee romantic interest for her in the shape of the brooding and handsome hotel manager,  Finn.

The setting of Ballykiltara is so exquisitely described that you cannot help but imagine the hotel, the wonderful woodland walks, The Welcome House or even just the general tranquillity of it all.  Ali McNamara’s writing transports her readers to the settings she writes about, and has them invested in the characters being written about.  The way that relationships develop through the book is interesting, seeing the ups and downs of friendships makes this feel realistic as well as makes the characters stand out.  The way that they come to life from the pages is another reason to love this book, Kiki is a fantastic character, so lovely and endearing.  Her muddling of words just makes her even more appealing and she works well as a contrast to Ren.  Ren, whilst a friendly and cheery person has secrets she keeps locked away and sometimes forgets to take her business hat off.  Finn, well what can I say about the dishy hotel manager?  His charm and impish ways are so well written that I could almost see him as I read (swoon!).

This book has almost everything you need for a holiday read (whether it’s a staycation or far flung destination), it’s humorous, it’s magical and it’s so full of delightful charm that you can’t help but enjoy it!

You can buy a copy of The Summer of Serendipity via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

My thanks to Clara Diaz at Little, Brown Book Group for the opportunity to read this book and to take part in the blog tour.

 

Follow the blog tour:

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