Wednesday 13 January 2021

Guest Review: Coming Home to Seashell Cottage by Jessica Redland

This book was previously published as Dreaming About Daran.

For Clare O’Connell, home is where the heart aches…

Since the age of sixteen, Clare O'Connell has lived her life by four strict rules:

1. Don't talk about Ireland

2. Don't think about Ireland

3. Don't go to Ireland

4. Don't let anyone in

And so far, it's worked well. She's got a great career, amazing friends, and she's really happy. The future is all that counts, isn't it?

However Clare is about to realise that you can run from the past, but you can't always hide from it…

When her boss insists she travels to Ireland for work, Clare finds herself drawn back to the village of Ballykielty – the home of her family, and the home of her secrets. The one place where vowed never to return to again…

With the door to her past now wide open, the first three rules have gone out of the window. Will Clare stick to rule number four?

Can she be brave and face up to her family and the demons of her past?

Review: This is book 4 in the series Welcome to Whitsborough Bay from Jessica Redland. The books each focus on one particular person in this North Yorkshire seaside town, at the same time bringing the reader up to date with what is going on with other inhabitants they have met in previous parts. It is best to read the books in order to give the best enjoyment of the continuing overall story. This title was published previously as Dreaming About Daran.

This book focuses on Clare O’Connell, friend to Sarah and Elise, main characters in previous parts of the series. Until now, Clare has always had a rather cynical outlook on life, careful not to let anyone too close or to learn about her past. In this story, we learn about her background and find an explanation for why she behaves as she does. When her boss sends her back to her home town in Ireland for work, she meets up with the family she hasn’t seen for many years. A letter from a recently deceased relative brings her shocking news and starts her on a trip down memory lane that finally leads to revelations that have been hidden deep inside her subconscious for a very long time. Clare is lucky that Sarah’s brother Ben is there to support her through the trauma and pick up the pieces. Could it be that once the secrets have been revealed, she and Ben could become more than friends?

In common with the other books in this series, I really enjoyed this one and would recommend it, and the entire series. The story of Clare is a lot darker than the other girls’ stories. What is revealed when she goes back to the home she had for the first 16 years of her life is truly shocking, and what is unlocked from her mind is even worse. Not all of what Clare discovers as the pages turn is distressing; there are happy discoveries too, but as a reader I never knew what was going to come out next. I thought it was really good writing to keep the suspense going right up to the end. As the last part in the series, I liked that the author ended the book with an epilogue letting us all catch up with the current status of the characters we had followed through the various instalments. Although I have now finished this series of books, I shall be on the lookout for more of Jessica Redland’s books set in Whitsborough Bay.

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