When I was asked by Hachette Book Group to review Anna Sullivan’s Hideaway Cove: A Windfall Island Novel, I wanted to do it for a couple of reasons. First, the whole Hachette v. Amazon thing I find to be incredibly irritating as Amazon puffs itself up and tries to take over control of ideas, attempting to place a stranglehold on e-book distribution. That really ticks me off, and Hachette gets my support for the stand they are taking against the huge gorilla in the room that Amazon has turned into.
The second, of course, is the fact that the concept of the book was interesting, as a young single mother, Jessica Randal, attempts to save her son Benjamin, Benji for short, from the attacks that have occurred against the citizens of Windfall Island which leave her son in grave danger. Of course, as this is mostly a romance, there is the tall, handsome stranger, Holden “Hold” Abbot, who is in town working on a genealogy project that could answer all the questions, as well as putting Benji and his mother in grave danger.
I liked that there was a sharp edge of suspense in the book, which brings it up above the common and garden ‘met the guy, bang the guy, marry the guy’ trope. Both Hold and Jessi have their trust issues, falling over each other in their attempt to protect themselves from any more emotional damage. And of course, Jessi is determined to protect her son – sometimes to a fault. As the book moves further along, the action and aforementioned suspense ratchet up to a razor’s edge, keeping me reading to the end.
The opposite side of the coin is that this is, as I figured out by the end of the first chapter, the second in a new series for Anna Sullivan, which caused me to be lost for, literally, the whole first half of the book. The slanting references to happenings in the past are utilized with no clarification, which was massively confusing and irritating as well. There are a lot of series out there that you can pick up at any point and get a concise update on what is going on, from the view of the previous book(s), in such a manner as to bring you into the ‘loop’ of the story without rehashing the whole series. This book doesn’t give you any guidelines. Instead, we are apparently supposed to have read the first book in order to understand what is going on in this one. That fact, to be honest, would have kept me from finishing the book once I had gotten into the third chapter and still couldn’t figure out what was going on. However, as this was a requested read, I stuck it out, though I admit to skimming through a major portion of the book. It simply couldn’t hold my attention because I was so lost. Who was Eugenie, why was someone trying to kill any great grandchildren she may or may not have still living, or was it grandchildren of this Eugenie or just what the heck was going on anyway? The prolog gave you a happening in 1931 or so that I suppose was supposed to give you all the clues you needed, but the fact that there was no modern day clarification meant the questions were annoying and kept me from enjoying the book as much as I could have.
Overall, if you are willing to purchase the previous book, Temptation Bay, you will be much better equipped to pick up this volume of the series and actually enjoy it from the beginning. The blurb for the book is rather disingenuous as well, as the book is much more about Jessica and her relationship with her son and the lengths she will go to in order to protect him rather than simply about the ‘love interest’ Holden getting what he wants. The HEA is there, of course, and I suppose the blurb will pull in “strictly romance” readers, but if you are fond of a suspense with a strong thread of romance versus the opposite, this may be a series you will want to give a read. From the first book, of course.
I received this book from the Forever (Grand Central Publishing) arm of Hachette Books. All opinions are my own and are not based on my receipt of the book from the publishers.