Book four of 2017 was an impulse buy from Waterstones, because I was drawn to the picture of a Southern plantation house on its jacket. I’m a sucker for a beautiful old house, and when the inside jacket promised that this story was about a family mystery set in the pictured house, I was convinced.
Unfortunately, this was no mystery, and the house was not central to the plot. It was more like a perfectly respectable romance, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, twenty-years later boy tries to win girl back, suffers set-back, you know the rest.
Now for the proper synopsis: Jim is a successful international hotel developer, whose boss has asked him to procure a Gone With The Wind style property for their next venture. As it happens, Jim once spent a summer in a lake house next to just such a plantation house, and even better, the house is now for sale. This brings Jim back into contact with Jennifer, with whom he had a brief fling that summer twenty-years ago.
The front jacket proclaims ‘a mystery to unravel’, but I am quite cross about this because it’s not a proper mystery in my book. The problem is that although a few things might be a mystery to the reader – such as why Jennifer abruptly ended her and Jim’s relationship at the end of the summer – these things are known to the characters, and drip fed to us through flashbacks. I find this really irritating and not deserving of the label ‘mystery’. And although there is a twist, of sorts, in which something unexpected is revealed to one of the characters, this comes out of the blue and doesn’t constitute an ‘unravelling’.
I did appreciate the details about the hotel-development business, especially where it indulged my hankering for descriptions of the grand old house, and I enjoyed a bizarre sub-plot involving a Caribbean gangster. The characters were reasonably well-drawn and believable, the writing easy to read and well paced.
All in all, a fairly inoffensive romance novel with a misleading jacket description – not exactly a ringing endorsement but not terrible.
This year I have set myself the challenge of reading 40 books. Pre-baby I'd have gone for the big 52, but that may be a tad too ambitious! I shall be posting a review of every book here on my blog, and welcome your comments and discussion.