Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay by Ali McNamara
Publishing Date: 27th June 2019
Source: Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 368
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance
The sun is shining on the golden castle on Rainbow Bay – and change is in the air!
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..
Down on her luck, single mum Amelia struggles everyday to bring up her son and keep their heads above water. It wasn’t always like that, she was happily married, that is until one day her husband simply left her and everything changed in this moment. One day she is contacted by a genealogist telling her that, through a very distant relative, she is the heir to Chesterford Castle in the Northumberland. sure, at first she thinks it’s a joke, because who in those times simply inherit a castle, right? However, it turns out that it’s true, so Amelia and Charlie move to the castle. It’s lacking visitors and this final touch, and so Amelia comes up with some ideas to get the castle earn some income. But when she fells in love with the place, and it starts to run smoothly, it turns out that perhaps there is another heir to it…?
The cover of this book is simply stunning, I love the colours and it corresponds with the whole story so very, very well!
I warmed to Amelia immediately, though I must say that I liked her even more with every page turned. She was first feeling so down, what is absolutely understandable, and I have a feeling that she simply couldn’t/didn’t want/was too fed up to show her other, funnier and sharper, side. From the very beginning you saw that she’s doing all to make Charlie’s life better and my heart went to her, understanding how she felt when she couldn’t afford better food, let’s not mention longer trousers for her son. Later, I loved the ideas she had to get the castle earn money again, she was really the right person in the right place, determined to make the place a success, and the digging she has made into the castle’s history was great, I truly enjoyed this aspect of the story. She wanted the castle to work not only for her own and Charlie’s benefit but also for the staff and the community.
The staff working at the castle is another story, Ali McNamara has created a bunch of vivid, colourful characters. There is Arthur, the gruff caretaker but underneath all this grumpiness he was a lovely and loyal man. His wife Dorothy, a housekeeper, loved the castle and was the best cook in the world probably. Joey, who helps Arthur, and Tiffany who works in the office are like a breath of fresh air, adorable and likeable. And Tom and Benji, which brings us to the more romantic side of the story, that I personally liked very much. It was absolutely not predictable – well, at least to one moment when there was the big reveal, or at least big to me as I haven’t seen it coming, but until this moment I was really all the time wondering which of the two potential love gods would be better for Amelia. I am actually thankful to the author for resolving this for me.
There’s always the magical element in Ali McNamara’s novels and either you buy it or not. I do. And actually, I don’t only mean the obvious magic, like ghosts in that case, but the magical and spellbinding atmosphere that the author can capture so well.
Overall, “Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay” was a light, entertaining read, brilliantly written – the writing style is flying, it’s so welcoming and warm and fabulously chatty – introducing us to well – drawn characters, including some cheeky ghosts! There is also a slight mystery throughout the pages and while it isn’t life changing, or taking your breath away, it added this last finishing sparkle touch to the story. Full of gentle humour, feelings and emotions, a charming summer read. Recommended!