Author Anne Stormont was my guest here on Being Anne back in November, setting the scene for her latest book: Settlement, was published in September, and is available in paperback and for kindle (also available via Kindle Unlimited), and you can read her post again here. Although I’ve never read one of her books, our paths first crossed quite a few years ago now – I notice I bought a copy of Displacement back in 2015, only for it to disappear into the depths of my kindle. I’ve always been convinced that I’d love her writing, knowing from her reviews that we’re often in total agreement over the books we enjoy. Anne was kind enough to send me an e-copy of Settlement, with no deadline for review – I had rather hoped it would take me a month or so, but it unfortunately wasn’t to be. But, at long last, I’ve read it – and must say it was everything I’d hoped it would be…
Can love truly heal old wounds? Can the past ever be put peacefully to rest?
If you like a complex, grown-up romance with lots of raw emotion, dramatic and exotic settings, all mixed in with some international politics and laced with elements of a crime thriller, then this is the book for you.
Falling in love is the easy bit. Happy ever after requires work, commitment and honesty.
She wants him to be her friend and lover. He wants her as his wife. Can a compromise be reached? Or are things truly over between them?
When former Edinburgh policeman Jack Baxter met crofter and author Rachel Campbell at her home on the Scottish island of Skye, they fell in love. It was a second chance at happiness for them both.
But after Jack proposes marriage, it becomes clear they want different things.
Then, as Rachel prepares to return to the Middle East to work on a peacemaking project that’s close to her heart, and as Jack’s past catches up with him, it seems their relationship is doomed.
Can Rachel compromise on her need to maintain her hard-won independence? Can Jack survive the life-threatening situation in which he finds himself? Will they get the chance to put things right between them?
Settlement is the sequel to literary romance novel, Displacement, but it can be read as a stand-alone.
Yes, it most certainly can be read as a standalone – quite perfectly, and that’s what I did – but I do rather wish I’d read Displacement too. And that’s not because it’s in any way necessary, but just because I so enjoyed this book that I wish I’d discovered Rachel and Jack rather sooner.
All the characters in this book are simply wonderful – Rachel and Jack are a couple with more baggage than many, but I was quite enthralled as I watched their relationship falter, change and develop through the course of the book. But there’s much more to this book than the relationship at its centre – I particularly liked the wider focus on friends and family, with a particular emphasis on daughters (both such well-drawn characters and relationships). But I also enjoyed the introduction of former partners, the steadfast support of friends Alasdair and Morag, and the interventions of the younger family members.
Rachel’s deep-seated grief at the loss of her son has a rawness that hurts, and the emotional content of the whole story is exceptionally handled as its complexity prevents everything being simply happy ever after. The people in this book are real, complete with all the faults and foibles that make them so, as the past casts its shadow over the present. The author really gets beneath the skin of her characters – I found it particularly easy to identify with Rachel, understanding her need for more, her passion about her work, and her overwhelming need to make a difference in her own way despite the collateral pain and damage.
I liked very much the way the story was constructed, with the voices and inner thoughts of both Jack and Rachel, and the dialogues and conversations that move the story forward. Understanding the reasons for some of the characters’ choices gives the whole an immense authenticity and depth of feeling – this is extremely accomplished writing.
The Skye setting is beautifully drawn – far more than a simple backdrop, full of detail, with the eye of an artist or photographer, but also evoking the healing powers of nature. I very much enjoyed Rachel’s research trip to Israel-Palestine too – a whole human context that I was shamefully unfamiliar with, just one facet of the story that gives the book its title, a reality sensitively handled and viewed from different perspectives. The book has elements of a crime thriller too, also superbly handled – we learn what led up to the book’s intriguing opening, and the author handles escalating danger, tension and edge-of-the-seat drama every bit as well as she does the quieter moments of tenderness.
I’d recommend this book most highly. While it has particular resonance for a reader who’s lived a little, with its insights into the challenges of a mature relationship, its appeal is considerably wider. I understand there is a third book to follow – and I’m delighted to see its to be called Fulfilment, because that’s what everyone must yearn for having encountered Rachel and Jack. I know I’m very much looking forward to it…
About the author
Anne Stormont writes contemporary romantic fiction where the main characters are older – but not necessarily wiser.
She hopes the stories she tells will entertain, but she also hopes they will move, challenge and inspire her readers.
Anne is a Scot, living in the land of her birth. She’s a retired teacher and when she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, country walks and gardening – and the occasional pillion ride on her husband’s motor bike. She also loves spending time with friends and family – especially her two grandchildren.
Anne has travelled all over the world and has visited every continent except Antarctica – somewhere she really should go considering her penchant for penguins.
She can be a bit of a subversive old bat, but she tries to maintain a kind heart.