01 Apr The Cornish Hideaway by Jennifer Bibby
A stormy romance in sunny Cornwall
It’s great to be invited to review a summer book in the cold days of spring – I’ve been freezing here in Dundee, and was glad to escape to Cornwall with heroine of The Cornish Hideaway, Freya. A bit of sunshine is just what I need, even if it is virtual.
I’m glad I don’t have Freya’s problems though! An aspiring artist, she has just failed her masters’ degree (which I would have thought was impossible) and Matt, her boyfriend of seven years, has decided they should go their separate ways.
Homeless, with no prospect of a job, and not wanting to return to her family – who will only say “I told you so” and urge her into teaching, Freya accepts her friend Lola’s offer to spend the summer working in her café in the Cornish village of Polcarrow.
As she settles in, a stranger arrives in town, roaring in on a motorbike. Angelo is tall, dark, handsome and troubled.
Freya recognises him as a once well-known artist who has disappeared off the art scene, but wisely does not probe, instead offering him support in the form of hearty bacon butties, freshly brewed coffee and a listening ear.
As summer progresses, their friendship deepens into something more, but whatever is troubling Angelo makes him wary of commitment.
Will Freya be left out in the cold again?
It’s easy to see why Freya fall for Angelo
This was an enthralling and emotional read, the pages full of warmth and humour.
I loved the characters – Freya may be down, but she is not out, and she and Lola complement each other perfectly.
Angelo is described as a man with “a hint of danger and the need for salvation” and he more than lives up to this promise. As dark brooding heroes go, he’s up there with Heathcliff or Mr Rochester, but he can never fully conceal his softer side, and it’s easy to see why Freya falls for him.
The villagers are a delight – from vicar Tristan (who has an unholy interest in Lola) to WI stalwarts Jan, Cathy and Sue, to old seasalt Alf and his dog Scruff. They form a fun and strong backdrop to the narrative, providing opportunities for the plot to develop. Angelo gets involved Alf’s boat restoration project, and he and Freya both have a big part to play in the newly-revived Fisherman’s Festival the WI are keen to put on.
I loved the background, too. In many ways, the cliché of a picture-perfect Cornish village, Polcarrow seen through Freya’s artistic eyes becomes authentic, and is never too twee.
Freya is a stand-out heroine
The pace of the narrative works well – overall, the tone is light and breezy, deepening into thoughtfulness when the plot demands it. Author Jennifer Bibby uses the elements to great effect – for example, the storm which heralds Angelo’s arrival in the village signals the mood of the man who is about to disrupt Freya’s new found peace.
As a romance, this is a really good read, but it is also a lovely exploration of one woman’s quest to find her true place in life after a series of disappointment.
Freya may fancy the pants off Angelo, but she isn’t looking for love to validate her – she knows she must find her own way to fulfilment without relying on others, and her determination to overcome failure makes her a stand-out heroine.
The Cornish Hideaway by Jennifer Bibby is published by Simon & Schuster in paperback and ebook
About the Author
A lifelong lover of stories, Jennifer Bibby enjoys exploring the lives of women as they set out on life changing adventures, which usually lead them somewhere picturesque and full of new friendships and of course, the promise of romance. The Cornish Hideaway is her debut novel.
Thanks to Sarah-Jade Virtue of Books and the City for inviting me on this blogtour and to publishers Simon & Schuster for the copy of the book.
Catch up with the rest of the blogtour at the links on the poster
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