There are some books that I pick up because I like the cover or the title or something in the blurb. It's hard to tell what will catch my eye when I go browsing on certain days.
This book I chose because friends speak so fondly of the setting. I have a magnet from the island and while I never have been, I know it to be a special place.
Let me put the review into further context with a TV show. Gran Hotel is set in Spain and I started watching it because I wanted to get a sense of not just the sites where it took place, but of the people who walked the streets of those towns and the footpaths through those valleys.
This book invites me into the setting in the same way that Gran Hotel does. I wanted to look up many of the locations, but felt like it would take me out of the story to focus on the topography of the book.
Instead, I found myself finding a rich ensemble cast. Maude and Ben, who have secrets to keep and very individual reasons for those deceptions, are almost tangential love interests. Their actions towards each other are period-appropriate and feel natural. Around them, some of the characters seem to be trying too hard--everyone has a kind word to say about Maude, who might as well be a Disney princess for her notoriety, but is more down-to-earth--but I was charmed by Jack, the aspiring Olympian cum trickster. I found comedies of errors in mistaken impressions of Maude's extended family.
Overall, the plot had good pacing and enough turns and intrigues for me to enjoy it.
ECPA-bestselling author Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is the award-winning author of a dozen Christian historical romances. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn't "cure" her overactive imagination! A self-professed “history geek,” she resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia but grew up as a “Yooper.” Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time! You can connect with her at www.CarrieFancettPagels.com.