At times only a light romance or a book about women and their issues will do. Those who follow this blog (and there are a larger number of you every month) will realise that I like to read a variety of different types of novel – some light and some heavier. I find light romance or women’s fiction relaxing – usually these books don’t require much effort to read and have a very satisfying ending. I couldn’t read them all the time but lots of people do – there are certainly plenty of similar stories on the market.
Starcross Manor by Christie Barlow is from an author new to me (I was given the book in a pile of similar titles from a friend) and is part of a set of books all based in the same, small, fictional Scottish town. I don’t think that it matters that I hadn’t read the others but there were references to people and events which I didn’t understand which I would have known about had I read the previous titles. The book is mostly a romance but the romance isn’t the whole of the story.
Julia first met Flynn in her home town where he took advantage of her grief to buy her grandfather’s property at a knock down price and where he then walked out of his marriage to Julia’s friend on the morning of the wedding. When he appears in the town where she now lives she immediately mistrusts him, especially when she hears that he has bought the local manor house to turn into a hotel and is threatening to provide a range of services which will have a devastating impact on the local traders and small businesses. Julia rouses the town against him and stops his building work but when she talks to him she fears that she may have made a mistake. Then her B and B is flooded and she needs Flynn’s help with her stranded and soggy guests.
You can work out the ending from the beginning of most of these books but the enjoyment in reading them is to see how the author gets there and to spend time with the characters. Julia is adamant that Flynn is not to be trusted but she soon finds out that he is of great help to her when she needs assistance. What starts her reconsidering, however, is that she feels attracted to him and she seems to have the view that if she finds him attractive that he can’t be all bad – I’m not quite sure that that view is upheld by the experience of many people !
This is an easy to read story but it does require quite a lot of suspension of disbelief. For example I couldn’t believe how easily Julia recovered after the flood and how little damaged her premises were. I really thought that a man who had a string of hotels would have an interior designer as part of his staff and wouldn’t need to ask for decorating ideas from a local resident. I wasn’t sure how realistic it was that everyone stopped working for Flynn – didn’t they have contracts with penalty clauses ? I also found it unbelievable that the locals didn’t realise that the Manor was being turned into a hotel. These are very picky things but there were a few too many of them for me in this novel which means that I wasn’t captivated enough by the story to overlook these issues. In the end, the whole book just didn’t engage me enough to become an escapist read and I found myself finding things which I considered to be unrealistic as I read.
If you are captivated enough by a book then you overlook or accept things which don’t seem realistic or consistent because you are totally immersed in the story. This book didn’t do that for me and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped.