I’m delighted today to be part of the blog tour for Settlement by Anne Stormont, the second book in her three-book Skye series: published in September 2018, it’s available for kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited) and in paperback. My thanks to Kelly at Love Books Tours for the invitation and support.
When I discovered Anne’s lovely writing, this was the book I started with – no, I rarely do the obvious thing and start with the first in a series! But this is a book that can happily be read as a standalone, but I do rather wish I’d read Displacement too – not because it’s necessary, but just because I so enjoyed this book that I wish I’d discovered Rachel and Jack rather sooner.
Let’s take a closer look…
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.
I read and reviewed this lovely book in March 2019, and it’s a real pleasure to share my review just once more…
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…
I did go on to read Fulfilment – and I’ll share my review again on 3rd October for the new tour. But today, I thought it might be good to share an extract from Settlement to let you have a taste of Anne’s writing…
When I heard what had happened to Jack it was like hearing about the death of my son all over again. Although, when Finlay died, there’d been no uncertainty. He was definitely gone, blown up by an IED while serving as a Royal Marine Commando in Afghanistan. But with Jack no-one seemed sure at first. He’d been shot, that much was certain, and he was on his way to hospital with terrible injuries.
I’d only got back a few days before. I’d been away for three months working in Israel and Palestine, and I’d expected Jack to be at home on Skye when I returned. He hadn’t told me he’d taken a job with the Historic Crimes Unit in Edinburgh. But then that wasn’t surprising as he’d broken off contact while I’d been away.
And now it seemed he’d been shot by some notorious criminal from his past. I struggled to process it all, struggled not to faint, struggled not to throw up. I was devastated. I loved him so much. I couldn’t lose him as well.
I wanted to go to him right away. But it was night time. He was in Edinburgh and I was hundreds of miles away on Skye. I was persuaded to wait until morning.
I went to bed but I didn’t sleep. My body was flooded with adrenalin and anxiety, my head still full of questions, confusion … and Jack Baxter.
What was it that was troubling him so much during the months leading up to me leaving? Why wouldn’t he talk to me about it? And why would anyone want to kill him?
Was what had happened to him down to me? Had he taken the job in Edinburgh because he believed things really were over between us?
Why had it gone so wrong?
Why could he not support my return to the Middle East? Couldn’t he see how important my work is to me? Why couldn’t he trust me?
And when I couldn’t bear the circling questions any longer, I tried to focus on the things I was certain of. Things like not only had he saved my life, but he’d helped make it so much better. Things like how much I loved him and wanted to be with him. And that although my work on the croft, on the children’s books, and on this new Israel-Palestine project meant a lot to me, without Jack there’d be no joy in any of it.
I was also certain that I should have tried harder to put things right.
About the author
Anne Stormont writes contemporary romantic fiction where the main characters may sometimes be 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.
She has written four novels so far – Change of Life was her first. This was followed by the three novels set on the Scottish island of Skye – Displacement, Settlement and Fulfilment which tell the story of Rachel and Jack.
Anne is a Scot, living in the land of her birth. She’s a former 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 three 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.