There’s always something rather special about launching a blog tour on publication day. I’m particularly delighted today to be launching the blog tour for Summer in Tintagel by Amanda James, published by Urbane Publications because – I must admit – I’m just a bit of a fan of her writing. Both her time travel books – A Stitch In Time and Cross Stitch (links are to my reviews) were so entertaining, full of really clever and original ideas, and exceptionally readable and well-written. And Somewhere Beyond The Sea – a darker tale of blackmail, abuse, death and betrayal, but still infused with gentle touches of humour – has long remained a personal favourite.
The wait for another book has been far too long, but I’m delighted to report that this lovely book was well worth it. I’ll tell you a little more – the cover “blurb”, then my review. And then I’m thrilled to be able to offer one UK reader a chance to win a signed copy. And you will remember to follow the other stops on the tour, won’t you?
We all have secrets……
Ambitious journalist Rosa Fernley has been asked to fulfil her grandmother Jocelyn’s dying wish. Jocelyn has also passed on a secret – in the summer of 1968, fleeing from the terror of a bullying husband, she visited the mysterious Tintagel Castle. Jocelyn wasn’t seeking love, but she found it on the rugged clifftops in the shape of Jory, a local man as enigmatic and alluring as the region itself.
But she was already married, and knew her husband would never let her find happiness and peace in Jory’s arms. Now as her days are nearing their end, she begs Rosa to go back to Tintagel, but is unwilling, or unable, to tell her why. Rosa is reluctant – she has a job in London, a deadline that won’t wait and flights of fancy are just not in her nature. She realises it might be the last thing she will do for her beloved grandmother and agrees to go.
Once in Tintagel, Rosa is challenged to confront secrets of her own, as shocking events threaten to change everything she has ever believed about herself and her family. She also meets a guide to the castle, Talan, a man who bears a striking resemblance to Jory. Will the past remain cloaked in tragedy, sadness and the pain of unrequited love? Or can Rosa find the courage and strength to embrace the secrets of the past, and give hope to the future?
In tone and style, I think it’s fair to say that this lovely read sits somewhere between the Stitch books and the romantic suspense. It opens dramatically with a vivid scene from childhood memory – the relevance of which later becomes pivotal to the story – then focuses on Rosa’s relationship with her grandmother and her promise to visit Tintagel to fulfil her last wish. I warmed to Rosa instantly – a well drawn twenty-something, she has an infectious enthusiasm and sense of humour, as she explores Tintagel, encounters the local characters and finds herself involved in a series of events that are as much of a surprise to her as they are to the reader.
There’s a strong psychic and supernatural flavour to the story, but nothing that ever becomes in the least uncomfortable – the strangeness and magic (what Rosa calls the “spiritual hoo ha”) is handled with a light touch, and sits well with the setting, with much of the action focused on the vividly described castle and the church on the headland. And there’s a good balance between the psychic elements and day-to-day life – meals in the pub, full English breakfasts, walks over uneven ground in unsuitable shoes, the choice of clothes for a day out when you’ve dropped chips on your only sensible t-shirt, encounters with a surly waiter… and the most endearing white witch in Morganna that you’re ever likely to meet. And as for Talan, the castle guide – he’s simply gorgeous, a quite perfect romantic hero, but a sequence of misunderstandings and the shadow of the past mean that the course of true love never runs as smoothly as it should.
Family relationships, history and layered secrets give the book a little more depth than you’d expect – all handled really well, and never heavy. Despite the seriousness of some of the themes, the humour is always present – but at a perfectly judged level. I’m not usually a laugh-out-loud person, but some of Rosa’s observations and conversations were simply wonderful.
If I’m really honest, this book wasn’t what I was expecting at all – maybe partly because of the dark and brooding (but beautiful) cover – but I really loved it. Don’t overlook this one, whatever you do – it’s a perfect read for the summer.
With thanks to Amanda and Urbane Publications, I’m pleased to be able to offer one lucky UK reader the chance to win a signed paperback copy of Summer in Tintagel. Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
My thanks to netgalley and Urbane Publications for my advance reading e-copy.
Amanda James grew up in Sheffield but her dream was to eventually live in Cornwall. Having now realised that dream, the dramatic coastline around her home inspires her writing and she has sketched out many stories in her head while walking the cliff paths. Known to many as Mandy, she spends far more time than is good for her on social media and has turned procrastination to a fine art.
Amanda has written many short stories for anthologies and has four previous published novels. Two are about a time travelling history teacher, A Stitch in Time and Cross Stitch, two are suspense – Somewhere Beyond the Sea and Dancing in the Rain.
Amanda left school with no real qualifications of note apart from an A* in how to be a nuisance in class. Nevertheless, she returned to education when her daughter was five and eventually became a history teacher, though she never travelled through time, apart from in her head. When Amanda is not writing she can be found playing on the beach with her family or walking next to the ocean plotting her next book.
Follow Amanda on Twitter or through her Facebook author page: she also has a rather lovely blog called Mandy’s Musings.