The House on the Shore by Victoria Howard starts off seeming to be a conventional romance and turns into a satisfying suspense story set in a beautiful, remote Western Scottish loch. The remoteness is central to the plot. After a love affair turns sour, Anna MacDonald leaves Edinburgh for her remote croft, once her grandmother’s, beside Loch Hourn in the Western Highlands. She longs for peace and quiet to write her book. Tigh na Cladach, a two bedroom cottage alone at the end of a twelve mile track, is her bolt hole where she hopes to nurse her injured pride and heart. When she arrives, an unknown yacht is anchored in the bay. On board is a rather handsome American sailor, stranded as he waits for a part to repair his engine. A combative relationship develops between the two; Anna resents the intrusion of Luke Tallantyre but is driven to help by the local community spirit; Luke bridles at the prickly, aggressive woman he must rely on for help. Meanwhile, Alistair Grant, heir to the Killilan Estate which borders Anna’s land, and who was a teenage friend of hers, returns from his life of luxury in the South of France to run the estate. But Grant’s plans for change upset the villagers. In echoes of the Highland Clearances of the 18th century, rents are raised, livelihoods threatened, sensitivities ignored. Anna inspired, begins to write a novel set during this troubled time, imagining her croft and what happened there.
The pace of the modern-day story changes when her tyres are slashed and someone takes a pot shot at her with a shotgun. Romance becomes romantic suspense. I confess during some romantic passages – eg. ‘his broad suntanned chest’ – I wished for less not more, but that is personal taste. The pace of the story was good alternating between Anna’s historical novel, the political dispute about the Estate’s future, the dark threats, and the growing romance.
This is modern day suspense story, mirroring the unique history of the region, with a touch of romance; rather than a page turning psychological thriller. An enjoyable read which I whizzed through on holiday, guessing the identity of the real villain but not working out the motivation.
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If you like this, try:-
‘Love and Eskimo Snow’ by Sarah Holt
‘Please Release Me’ by Rhoda Baxter
‘The Lost Letters of William Woolf’ by Helen Cullen
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE HOUSE ON THE SHORE by @VictoriaHoward_ #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4uf via @SandraDanby