Book: 448 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (21st January 2021)
On paper, Merina Wilde has it all: a successful career writing the kind of romantic novels that make even the hardest hearts swoon, a perfect carousel of book launches and parties to keep her social life buzzing, and a childhood sweetheart who thinks she’s a goddess. But Merry has a secret: the magic has stopped flowing from her fingers. Try as she might, she can’t summon up the sparkle that makes her stories shine. And as her deadline whooshes by, her personal life falls apart too. Alex tells her he wants something other than the future she’d always imagined for them and Merry finds herself single for the first time since – well, ever.
Desperate to get her life back on track, Merry leaves London and escapes to the windswept Orkney Islands, locking herself away in a secluded clifftop cottage to try to heal her heart and rediscover her passion for writing. But can the beauty of the islands and the kindness of strangers help Merry to fool herself into believing in love again, if only long enough to finish her book? Or is it time for her to give up the career she’s always adored and find something new to set her soul alight?
This is the first time I’ve ever read a Holly Hepburn book in one hit – usually her stories (like this one) are published as 4 smaller novellas, spread across a year, with the whole story being published as a whole a few months later. This story was published as: Broken Hearts at Brightwater Bay, Sea Breezes at Brightwater Bay, Dangerous Tides at Brightwater Bay, Sunset Over Brightwater Bay.
The story starts with Merry (Merina), a Sunday Times Bestselling author, having a romantic meal with her fiancé Alex, her childhood sweetheart who she has been with for 16 years – the only boyfriend she’s ever had. Over dinner, Alex breaks Merry’s heart and leaves her to re-evaluate her life. She’s missed her deadline for her latest novel and is suffering crippling writer’s block when she sees an advert for a ‘writer in residence’ in the Orkney Islands for 6 months. With nothing to lose, Merry applies and we next see her 3 months after her heartbreak flying to her new life.
On Orkney, Merry soon adapts to her new life and makes friends quickly with the locals – who treat her like a rockstar! She decides to keep some of her life secret from her new friends and neighbours and soon begins to regret this when she meets someone who takes her breath away.
The book was a fantastic read during lockdown – I needed the relaxed vibe and escapism offered by reading this. It’s funny because Merry talks about wanting her books to be easy reads and this is exactly what this book is – I think Merry actually says something like “just because a book is an easy read, doesn’t mean it was an easy write”. Something I’ve thought about a lot (especially around this genre) this last few months.
I found myself Googling many of the locations while I was reading this (as well as Googling “hot Vikings”!) and have put the Orkney Islands on my list of places to visit assign as we can travel again.
I can’t wait for Holly’s next series….and maybe we will revisit the Orkney Islands again in the future!
To buy this book, please click one of the links below:
To buy from Amazon
To buy from Gullivers Books (my local independent book shop)
Or to order from an independent bookshop, please click here to go to Bookshop.org