The Secret Seaside Escape by Heidi Swain
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date: 16th April 2020
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 400
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
Escape to the seaside with the brand new novel from Heidi Swain, the Sunday Times bestselling author of feel-good women’s fiction!
Tess Tyler needs a break. Weighed down by her high-pressure job and her demanding father, she’s left little time to take care of herself. But after a shocking discovery sends her spiralling, she flees to Wynmouth, the seaside town she fell in love with as a child, to escape it all.
With its sandy beaches, stunning rock pools and welcoming community, Tess feels like she can finally breathe again. And as she grows ever closer to local barman Sam, she dares to dream that she might never return to her real life. But when a familiar face returns to town, Tess realises that there are secrets in Wynmouth too, and that her own past may be about to catch up with her . . .
The Secret Seaside Escape is the perfect read this summer, promising sandy beaches, stunning rockpools and breath-taking romance. Perfect for fans of Carole Matthews and Sarah Morgan.
“The Secret Seaside Escape” introduces us to Tess Tyler, working for her father’s PR firm really hard – she has to prove to him and to the others that she’s worth his trust. It also helps her – or at least is supposed to help – to get over death of her beloved mother. And so, for over two years she actually doesn’t have a private life and hasn’t been on holidays… To say that she lives under pressure would be an understatement. So it’s no wonder that she catches herself thinking back to the better times, when they, as family, spent some of the best holidays in the seaside village of Wynmouth in Norfolk. When going through her mum’s possessions she finds a photo of Crows Nest Cottage, and also a printed diary that puts her parents’ relationship in a completely different perspective, Tess decides it’s time for a break – from work, from her father, from life. She hopes that returning to a place that made her happy so many years ago will help her and will bring her so much needed joy. But will it?
The book has a wonderful setting, with a very picturesque location in Norfolk, at the seaside, with a cosy pub Smuggler’s Inn, with its moody owner Sam, where you can play Scrabble and listen to some spooky stories, and lovely beach cafe where you can taste some brilliant and unusual recipes of Caribbean fusions. The author can easily transport you to her setting, she has a way with words and her descriptions are vivid and reach. I also do have such a place of my many happy childhood memories, where I spent the best time during my summer holidays, and I could truly relate to Tess’s need to travel to Wynmouth, to try and bring back this small bit of happiness back and thanks to Heidi’s writing I could really see why she loved this place so much, and why she felt like at home there.
As much as the story was light and undemanding, I simply wanted to bang the characters’ heads either together or on the wall – they were desperately immature, jumping to the worst kinds of conclusions immediately and offended at anything and everything at the word go. I know that you can’t always communicate with each other, that it’s hard to talk, but please, get a little depth, be more real and genuine, you the characters from “The Secret seaside Escape”.
It was a very easy and lightly predictable read, and everything happened as it should happen, you could easily just tick all the boxes. I would call this book “chick lit for beginners”, as there is really everything you should expect from this genre.
The family related twists at the end turned out really well. It was a thing you could see coming but the outcome was totally different to what I was expecting, and I liked it, this bit different view at the family.
As usual, the author also touched upon some heavier issues in her book, softening them through the lovely setting and light overall tone, but altogether, this book truly felt slightly heavier. And while Ms Swain has managed some of the heavier issues, the others dragged on as if they overwhelmed her? I would really love to read Tess’s mother’s diary, there was so much told about it, and it took ages before Tess even read one page, even though it was so important to her, and I must admit, I’ve lost my interest before it even picked up pace. Nevertheless, kudos to the author for trying to make the book this little bit more ambitious by adding mystery and intrigue to the plot.
There is, of course, everything you can expect from Heidi Swain: gorgeous food, friendship, romance and she, as usual, highlights the importance of community. If you’re in a need of a fresh, light and relaxing read then look no further – you’ve found your book!