When we first meet Merry Wilde, she has just been rather unexpectedly dumped by Alex, her boyfriend of 15 years and although a best selling romance author, is suffering from a bad case of writer’s block. When she sees an advert for a writer in residence in Orkney, miles away from her London home and Alex, she decides to apply in the hope that a change of scene will get the creative juices flowing.
Coming Home to Brightwater Bay was originally published as four novellas and you get a sense of this occasionally when there is a recap of some of the main plot-points. Having said that, it flows well as one book and so much happens during Merry’s months in Orkney. There are some fantastic characters from handsome Orkney librarian Niall to hot ‘Viking’ Magnus, as well as Merry’s elderly but fit-as-a-fiddle neighbour Sheila who loves nothing more than to go for long runs on the clifftop. And I can’t miss out the other memorable character, Gordon the goat!
Orkney itself was such a wonderful setting, really the star of the show. It’s a long time since I’ve been there and this book had me longing to go back again. In fact, I suspect a lot of readers will now be planning a trip to Orkney when we are finally allowed to go there. With the mix of windswept cliffs, beautiful bays and so many fascinating and inspiring historical sites to visit, it really did sound idyllic.
As Merry began to find her place in her new home, it was lovely to see her welcomed into the community and to begin to take inspiration from her surroundings. Her friend had said to her that perhaps she could no longer write about love because she had forgotten what it felt like to be in love. Well, there was plenty of love in this book from romantic love in the past and present, to the love of friends and indeed the love of her surroundings. There was quite a lot of love for Highland Park whisky going on too!
If you don’t already follow the real Orkney Library on Twitter by the way, I really recommend you do. It’s a very funny account and the ‘friendly’ rivalry with Shetland Library is hilarious. Coming Home To Brightwater Bay is a real treat of a book and just what you need to whisk you away to somewhere beautiful, especially when we can’t travel for real at the moment. It’s a charming and witty read, a very uplifting book. If this book doesn’t make you believe in the possibility of finding true love in unexpected places, I don’t know what will!
My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and arranging a review copy of the book. Coming Home to Brightwater Bay is published by Simon and Schuster and available now in paperback and ebook formats. If you can, please order your copy from a local bookshop. Alternatively, you will find buying links for various retailers on the Simon and Schuster website here: Coming Home to Brightwater Bay.
From the back of the book
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?
About the author
Holly Hepburn is the much-loved author of commercial women’s fiction. She lives near London with her grey tabby cat, Portia. They both have an unhealthy obsession with Marmite. Follow Holly on Twitter @HollyH_Author.