It’s a little bit of a coincidence that my review today is of another book from the excellent New Romantics Press. But when you find a good thing, it is rather good to shout about it. This time it’s the turn of Adrienne Vaughan, and you might remember seeing her as my guest with her lovely Celtic Roots post back in November – do read it again here. I’ve been wanting to read one of Adrienne’s books for such a long time, if only to test out Sue Moorcroft’s confident assertion that I would love her writing. Maybe I really should have read the latest, Fur Coat & No Knickers, a short story anthology that’s had so many great reviews (and I’ll catch up, promise!). But I was in the mood for a novel, and I couldn’t think of anywhere better to start than with the first of her Heartfelt three book series, The Hollow Heart, available for kindle and in paperback. And do you know, Sue Moorcroft was absolutely right…
This heartrending mystery thriller is the story of Marianne Coltrane a feisty, award-winning journalist who uncovers a devastating travesty of justice involving the sale of babies by the church in Ireland. Fighting her corner in the male-dominated world of newspapers she witnesses a terrorist attack that changes how she thinks about her future and what she really wants.
Taking herself off to the wilds of the west of Ireland to re-evaluate her life, she encounters the soon to be world-famous actor Ryan O’Gorman, to her mind the most conceited, infuriating man in the world. He in turn loathes journalists, especially female ones. One thing they do have in common is they both think their chance of true love has passed them by. As they both begin to fall in love with Innishmahon, their spiritual home, they discover the very fabric of the island is threatened and as the islanders find themselves in grave danger, Marianne and Ryan join forces to save that which they hold most dear.
But the road is rocky for this fiery, opinionated pair … and when Ryan discovers his ex-fiance is carrying his child, things take a turn for the worst. Can he talk his way out of this one? And will Marianne even care, when she unwittingly reveals the most devastating secret of all, the truth behind her past and her own parentage.
Sexy, moving and funny, this heart-warming duo and cast of colourful characters will stay with you, long after the last page leaves you smiling.
How gorgeous was this book? The story is just wonderful, moving from the cut-throat world of investigative journalism, through glamour, glitz and mayhem,and on to the perfectly-drawn setting of Innishmahon, where it continues as a very moving love story with an uncertain outcome and a gripping tale of the lives of a cast of characters I really took to my heart. At the story’s centre is Marianne – it took me a while to get totally on her side, but I grew to love her, and her day to day struggles against life’s challenges became compulsive reading.
The whole book really came to life for me when the story moved to Innishmahon – although I must say there was plenty to keep me gripped into the early hours in what came before, as well as some real shocks and surprises, and quite a few tears. But I just loved the island community and its vividly drawn characters: it’s an immense achievement to make a reader care so much about a diverse (even strange?) collection of people, every one beautifully rounded with a back story of their own, all coming together to support each other through a whole range of problems, whether small and personal or cataclysmic and life-threatening.
The central love story is totally engrossing as it ebbs and flows and sometimes founders – fraught with misunderstanding and breakdowns in communication, quite agonising at times, but totally beautiful when everything comes together. And should you think that a relationship between a journalist and reclusive movie star seems a tad unlikely and far-fetched, it most certainly isn’t – every moment is absolutely real, believable and touches your heart.
The island setting against which the story plays out is almost a character in its own right – I really wanted to be in there, helping to lay the stones, when the community came together to rebuild that vital bridge. And there are so many threads and themes in this book that I’m not even going to try to cover them – I loved the complications around Marianne’s parentage (and particularly enjoyed its resolution), and some of the personal stories of the islanders were so wonderfully handled. All of life is here – and I loved every moment.
Adrienne Vaughan writes just beautifully – perfect handling of relationships and emotions, dialogue so real you can hear it, a great touch with gentle humour, and she can really tell a superb story. And it hasn’t escaped my notice that The Hollow Heart is just part one of a trilogy – I still have A Change of Heart and Secrets of the Heart to look forward to. Now isn’t that simply wonderful?
About the author
Adrienne Vaughan has been making up stories since she could speak; primarily to entertain her sister Reta, who from a very early age never allowed a plot or character to be repeated – tough gig!
As soon as she could pick up a pen, she started writing them down. No surprise she wanted to be a journalist; ideally the editor of a glossy music and fashion magazine, so she could meet and marry a rock star – some of that came true! And in common with so many, she still holds the burning ambition to be a ‘Bond Girl’.