Thursday, 28 December 2017

Emma's Review: Ottercombe Bay Part One - Where There's a Will... by Bella Osborne

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Daisy Wickens has returned to Ottercombe Bay, the picturesque Devon town where her mother died when she was a girl. She plans to leave as soon as her great uncle’s funeral is over, but Great Uncle Reg had other ideas. He’s left Daisy a significant inheritance – an old building in a state of disrepair, which could offer exciting possibilities, but to get it she must stay in Ottercombe Bay for twelve whole months.

With the help of a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with plenty of attitude, Daisy might just turn this into something special. But can she ever hope to be happy among the ghosts of her past?

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Many thanks to Avon UK for my copy of Ottercombe Bay: Part One - Where's There's a Will to review via NetGalley and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

I managed to resist until Bella Osborne's book Escape to Willow Cottage was published in its entirety before reading it. But this new series Ottercombe Bay really caught my eye for its gorgeous, uplifting, colourful cover so when I saw part one – Where There's a Will, I just had to dive straight in,. I was glad I did as it was the perfect length for this time of year for when reading time is scarce, yet you want a few minutes just to get away from everything. Where There's a Will has set us up nicely for what is to come and I feel the reader really got a chance to familiarise themselves with our main female protagonist Daisy Wickens. There was enough of her back story and the reasons for her return to Ottercombe Bay introduced to keep me hooked and wanting to keep reading. Of course as with any serialised novel the ending left us on a cliff hanger to guarantee we'll be back for part two.

Daisy Wickens has had no choice but to return to Ottercombe Bay following the death of her Great Uncle Reg as there is a will to be read which may or may not include a little something for Daisy. The sleepy coastal village in Winter which bustles with tourists and activities during the Summer is a place which holds many memories for Daisy. Memories of a happy childhood until an abrupt event in her past Daisy would much rather forget. Daisy feels deep within her that returning is a major mistake that will only dredge up thoughts and feelings she has suppressed for so long. She is happy with her itinerant, nomadic lifestyle roaming various parts of the world, living hand to mouth only working as she sees fit to earn some money. As soon as she roars into town on her motorbike and encounters childhood friend Max Davey she feels even more that this has been one huge mistake and that she needs to turn around and leave. But she can't abandon Aunt Coral who has been left Sea Mist Cottage in Reg's will. Plus the fact money is an issue at the moment more so than ever, maybe these are the things that when faced with a challenge she feels no other option only to accept what has been laid down for her.

Bella Osborne did a wonderful job of setting the scene. She made it seem as if Ottercombe Bay was a real place that was charming and small where people would be there for you but on the other hand Daisy feels it's all a bit too intrusive and that people really want to get into her business. Daisy is a character who is difficult to warm to, she is always on the defensive and I found her to be rude and abrupt with people when really there was no need. I'm not saying I won't ever like her as a character but for the moment I am reserving full judgement as clearly there is a lot more to happen with plenty of secrets and reasons to be revealed as to why she is the way she came across for the majority of this part of the story. I could see her Aunt Coral and neighbour and childhood friend Tamsyn only wanted to help her, to get her to open up but she remained a closed book keeping her emotions and heartbreak very close to her chest in more ways than one considering the significance of the locket she wears around her neck. Daisy likes to keep all her life in one rucksack that way she can leave in a hurry if need be and she never has any significant ties to any one place. Ottercombe Bay holds a deep sadness for her and this will only be magnified the longer she stays there.

So what actually keeps Daisy in the bay once she has returned for what she presumed would be a fleeting visit? Reg has left her the old abandoned railway station and surrounding car park in his will. The proviso being she must stay in Ottercombe Bay for a year if she wishes to inherit it and a share of some money. Instantly Daisy feels like she is being chained to a place that she has spent her life running away from, she feels claustrophobic and a sense of being suffocated pervades. Whereas Tamysn views Daisy's bequest as a challenge and a way of finding happily ever after.

To be honest I felt Daisy was really over reacting with regard to everything. How hard could it be to stay in the same place for a year surrounded by people who love you and only want the best for you. She was stubborn and always resistant to any offer of help or wise words and the way she treated old friend Max, I just didn't understand it all. Daisy considers people to always be meddling in her life but really I found them to be kind and loving if only she could see that for herself. Her attitude of self preservation, look out for yourself or who else will, won't last that long if she manages to stay in Ottercombe Bay and the people and railway station can work their magic on her and the ice queen might melt bit by bit.

I immensely enjoyed my first visit to Ottercombe Bay and will definitely return for the remaining three parts to the story. I am more than keen to see will Daisy go the distance and last the year. What will she do in the intervening months? Will she continue to let the railway station go to rack and ruin or has she some ideas up her sleeve? And what of the mystery surrounding the exact circumstances surrounding an event in her past which still deeply affects her today? All these and many more questions need answering. I also want to discover will we see a more softer, friendly, approachable side of Daisy emerge? As realistically she can't continue the way she is. Roll on February 2018 when Gin and Trouble is published and I can once again enjoy what I know is shaping up to be an excellent series.

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