Welcome to my stop on the #BlogTour for Island of Secrets by Rachel Rhys.
Doesn’t the beautiful cover design make you want to go on holiday? Or is that just me? It could just be me, it’s currently wet and cold here in Scotland and I am in the mood for sunshine.
Set in the exotic city of Havana on the cusp of revolution, an English woman discovers mystery, romance and scandal in the atmospheric new novel by Rachel Rhys for fans of DINAH JEFFRIES, LUCINDA RILEY and SANTA MONTEFIORE
1957: Iris Bailey is bored to death of working in the typing pool and living with her parents in Hemel Hempstead. A gifted portraitist with a talent for sketching party guests, she dreams of becoming an artist. So she can’t believe her luck when socialite Nell Hardman invites her to Havana to draw at the wedding of her Hollywood director father.
Far from home, she quickly realizes the cocktails, tropical scents and azure skies mask a darker reality. As Cuba teeters on the edge of revolution and Iris’s heart melts for troubled photographer Joe, she discovers someone in the charismatic Hardman family is hiding a terrible secret. Can she uncover the ugly truth behind the glamour and the dazzle before all their lives are torn apart?
I have found the Island of Secrets a really hard book to review – I loved some it, liked most of it and I was a bit bored by parts of the middle. And I could have lived without the romance, which I felt was rushed and gave me no fuzzy feelings. And I do like those fuzzy feelings. But, the take home message was I liked it. Island of Secrets was a good read.
The writing was great – Rachel Rhys knows how to use description to bring a place to life. I could picture Cuba, I could feel the heat of the sun and I scratched along with Iris with her mosquito bites. I loved the opulent, sultry, atmospheric setting and I would have loved to be a member of the wedding party – but the story only slightly dips into the turbulent history of Cuba around the late 1950s. I wanted more.
Island of Secrets was a really easy read. I flew through the pages and it was a good weekend read – something that didn’t need my full attention, which is ideal when I often feel pulled in several different directions. I found myself seeking out Island of Secrets when I had 5 minutes here and there.
I think my one real complaint (other than I didn’t quite feel the romance) was the pacing. I found the middle quite slow. The murder mystery is dragged out and there was a lot of just following the characters around. I did follow the characters to some beautiful locations and witness some very shady activity, but it was all a slow reveal. A slow build up. To what I thought was quite a good ending. I would also like to hazard a guess that Rachel Rhys was a fan of Agatha Christie because I felt this book was influenced by those types of classic murder mysteries. I bet it would make a great TV series!
Will I be reading more from Rachel Rhys? YES. Absolutely. I liked the book a lot and although I had a few criticisms they didn’t stop me from savouring the story and enjoying the scandalous characters all swanning about some opulent, rich and beautiful settings. I was kept entertained.
It was good. If you are at all interested then I do recommend reading it.
Have you read anything else by Rachel Rhys?
I received a copy of Islands of Secrets by Rachel Rhys for review from the publisher, which was all arranged by the blog tour organiser – Thank you!