Reviewed by Emma Crowley
Love is in the air in St Carys, but you'd never know it - the people of this seaside town are very good at keeping secrets...
The man Clemency loves belongs to someone else. She has to hide her true feelings - but when she ropes in an unsuspecting friend to help, wires start to get crossed.
For the first time in Ronan's life his charm has failed him in winning over the woman he wants. Loving her from afar appears to be his only option.
Belle seems to have the perfect boyfriend, but something isn't quite right. And now a long-buried secret is slowly rising to the surface.
The truth has a funny way of revealing itself, and when it does St Carys will be a very different place indeed...
As a long time fan of Jill Mansell's books I always look forward to the beginning of a new year as I know it won't be long before those fans of Jill's writing will once again be swept up in another brilliant book. I've read everything she has ever written and many years ago when I first discovered her writing she just became one of those authors whose books I readily gobbled up one after the other and then was sorry I had read everything and had to wait for a new book to be published. This new book Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay was just an utter delight from beginning to end and really was Jill Mansell at her very best. She was on sparkling form and everything about this book just screams read me now and I'll provide you with this feel good warm feeling inside and make you forget all your troubles... well at least for a couple of hours or more.
The setting for this book was a return visit to the small Cornish village of St Carys which featured in one of Jill's previous books The Unpredictable Consequences of Love. It sounds picture perfect and so vividly described that the reader wishes it could only be real so they could pay a visit there. Lots of authors during the last year have used Cornwall as the setting for their books and I thought am I getting a bit too tired of this? But no this didn't happen with this book, something new and fresh was brought to the setting and I loved everything about it and the trials and tribulations of our cast of characters of which there were many. Despite it not being a busy bustling metropolis like a large city, there was still an awful lot going on amongst the characters that reeled you in from the very first page and didn't unhook themselves from your mind until the last word. In fact they are still playing on my mind now that I would love a re-visit to St Carys again in the future.
The story begins as Clemency is flying back to London from Malaga and she is late for her flight after mislaying her passport in duty free. This is not like Clemency at all and she arrives on board flustered and in a heap but yet is delighted when she finds herself sitting next to a hunky man even if he is doing her best to ignore her as she offloads her story about being late. Clemency doesn't give up and keeps talking about various things and soon said man has no option whether he likes it or not but to engage in conversation. Clemency soon feels a zing, a spark, an undeniable chemistry and thinks is this too much of a cliché to be true, meet a man on a flight and fall in love. Despite their chat this proves true as Sam can't get away quick enough once the luggage has been collected at the airport. Clemency is crushed and figures that's that, so much for that connection. Yet the reader sensed the chemistry between the pair and hopes that won't the last we will see of Sam.
Fast forward three years later and Clemency is an estate agent working alongside Ronan in the picturesque seaside town of St Carys. She is happy with her life although the romantic side is not what she had hoped it to be at this point in time. I warmed to Clemency immediately from the first time we encountered her at the airport, she was friendly and supportive to everybody and we could see the meeting she has on the plane has a profound affect on her. Being a women's fiction romance book the reader knows there is going to be quite a lot in store before any sort of happiness and long term fulfillment can be achieved before one reaches the final pages and the author certainly provided us with so much in this story.
There were plenty of characters to get to know and each had their own storyline and it could have been in danger of going off on irrelevant tangents, or things becoming too muddled to follow, but thankfully this didn't happen and there was a lovely flow and feeling to the book. Yes it was slightly frustrating the reader could see the wider picture as characters were covering things up to protect other people's feelings and avoid hurt and heartache but I wanted it all out in the open. That's the impatient side of me that wants resolution quickly, yet the other side of me while reading wants to be left hanging and kept constantly surprised which I was with this book. There were two points in particular where I went wow I so didn't see that coming. Jill really had pulled the wool over my eyes and I like how the element of mystery was coming into play throughout the story.
The more we read the more everything seemed to become more tangled for our characters but I was riveted to the storylines and was more than enjoying how everything was unfolding. Belle, Clemency's stepsister, arrives in town with her new boyfriend in tow and this proves quite a shock for somebody. He is looking to settle down in Cornwall and Clemency is tasked with finding him a house to buy. Things aren't smooth sailing as she is forced to confront feelings pushed firmly to a safe place in her mind. Regarding this issue she proved so selfless and I was amazed at what she did to protect others and the front she had to partake in. I know I wouldn’t have done it instead I would have instinctively blurted out the truth I wouldn't have been able to keep it in. There was a nice bit of sibling rivalry between Clemency and Belle and this was good to see as sisters don't always have the most perfect of relationships. Initially I thought Belle a bit light and fluffy and there wasn't much to her except she really liked her boyfriend and showing him off and of course shopping. But there was alot more depth to her than at first you would think and her storyline was excellent and one which I never saw coming although the clues were there.
Ronan, Clemency's co-worker, seemed all about bedding as many women as possible or again was this a front? Fair play to him though he stepped up to the mark when needed and again the author gave him a great storyline. I think that's what made me enjoy this book so much it wasn't all just about Clemency and her search for love and to feel complete, all the characters had great storylines which merged very well with the main plot. They were all so well developed and there weren't endless chapters devoted to each person instead they came in and out at various points and just the right amount of detail and attention was given to them when needed. We didn't forget about any person, they popped up when appropriate to do so. Kate is the local post woman on the search for a new home due to having had some inheritance money come her way. She kept everything close to her chest and I felt sorry for her that she couldn't express how she was feeling but she didn't really want to upset the apple cart. Marina is the local artist who works outside on the café terrace painting and I did think she was getting just that bit much prominence for a minor character but again Jill played a blinder with her crafty twists of which there were many.
Meet me at Beachcomber Bay is much more than the traditional women's fiction boy meets girl story, it gave me everything I had hoped for me and I completely lost myself in the story. There were so many surprises and twists that kept the reader guessing yet for the majority of the time a sweet, uplifting feeling was created that despite the trials and obstacles they were encountering just gave me that warm feeling inside. This was a comforting style of writing and I suppose in a way a comforting, reassuring book that you would want to read with some comfort food in one hand the book in the other. I wanted all the characters to see the light and speak the truth so that happiness and personal satisfaction could be found but I found the journey to achieve this so absorbing and completely written from the heart that by the end you just have a smile on your face and heave a sigh of contentment upon reading the last sentence. This is Jill Mansell on top writing form and trust me when she is writing like this you really wouldn't want to miss out on such an excellent, delightful read.
Many thanks to Headline review for my copy of Meet me at Beachcomber Bay to review via NetGalley and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.