At long last, I’ve managed to read and review a book by Rosie Travers. I’ve been trying to fit The Theatre of Dreams into my reading list since it came out – I’ve read enough reviews to know that I’d love it. But then Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources told me about Rosie’s new book and sent me a reading e-copy – Your Secret’s Safe With Me was published as an e-book by Crooked Cat Books on 18th February (also available as an independently published paperback) – and all my good intentions went out of the window. But this was a book I very much enjoyed – the other will just have to wait a little longer…
Career girl Becca Gates’ organised life is thrown into chaos when her mother, romantic novelist Pearl, announces her surprise engagement to Jack, a man she has only just met.
Worse news follows when Pearl tells Becca she intends to leave London, quit writing, and retire to her new fiancé’s idyllic waterside home on the south coast. Becca is determined to prevent Pearl from making a disastrous mistake, but when she at arrives at Rivermede, more shocks await when she stumbles upon a familiar yet unwelcome face from her past.
As Pearl embraces her new life amongst the local sailing fraternity, Becca receives a grim warning that all is not as calm as it seems at picturesque Rivermede, and if she wants to keep her family safe, she should keep them away.
But why should Becca trust the man who has betrayed her before, the man who broke her heart, the man who thinks he knows all her secrets?
What an absolutely lovely read – and although I’d read the blurb, I’ll admit it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. The first person narrator is Becca, and your enjoyment does rather depend on whether or not you take her to your heart – but I most certainly did. Dumped at the altar, she’s thrown herself into managing her novelist mother Pearl’s career: Pearl’s enthusiasm (if it was ever really present) has rather departed, and meeting Jack presents the opportunity to make some big changes that have far-reaching consequences for her poor beleaguered daughter.
The characters in this book are simply wonderful: I can’t really avoid the word “quirky” however hard I try, but they never veer into caricature territory, every one integral to the story and beautifully brought to life. And there’s a whole plethora of story lines, ranging from unexpected romance through family intrigue into edge of the seat drama – but there’s a wonderful lightness of touch to the writing, with gentle and well-judged humour that keeps a constant smile on your face.
I particularly loved the increasingly over-the-top plans for Pearl’s wedding, the mother/daughter relationship, Becca’s inquisitive nature and refusal to let things lie. But I also loved the minor characters – the mysterious housekeeping team, the Twitchers at the pub quiz night, the eccentric characters found on the waterfront, the nubile siren who ignites Freddy’s interest, and lovely Stella with her sad past.
I always enjoy a story with a strong sense of place, and the author brings this setting vividly to life – Rivermede itself, the house and its surroundings, the boathouse with its locked door and secrets, the harbour and waterfront, and the whole sailing and boat-building community and the many watering-holes they frequent.
This book is quite perfectly paced and balanced. It does embrace a few quite serious issues at times, giving it a tad more depth than a standard rom com: the key moment of drama and danger is really well-handled, as are the secrets of the past and Becca’s developing romance. And it’s so cleverly plotted and tangled – so many small story lines, never confusing, twisting and turning and keeping you totally enthralled to the very end. But above all, it’s an absolute joy to read: one of those books you put down at the end with a satisfied sigh and say “I really enjoyed that”.
I’ll really look forward to reading more from Rosie Travers – I loved this one.
About the author
Rosie Travers grew up in Southampton on the south coast of England and loved escaping into a good book at a very early age. After many years juggling motherhood and a variety of jobs in local government she moved to Southern California in 2009. With time on her hands she started a blog about the perils of ex-pat life which rekindled a teenage desire to become a writer.
Now permanently settled back in the UK, Rosie takes inspiration from the towns and landscape of her native south coast and enjoys writing heart-warming stories sprinkled with mystery, tragedy, comedy and romance. Rosie’s debut novel, The Theatre of Dreams, was published by Crooked Cat Books in August 2018. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association.