Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell

In brief: St Carys is an idyllic English seaside town, but its inhabitants have a number of secrets. Can they be untangled so love can win the day?

The good: Absolutely jam packed full of twists and turns in the plot.

The not-so-good: Read this one pretty fast!

Why I chose it: Never read a Jill Mansell novel before and decided this looked so summery – many thanks Hachette for the copy.

Year: 2017

Pages: 405

Publisher: Headline Review (Hachette)

Setting: St Carys, Cornwall (England)

My rating: 8 out of 10

I simply adore the cover of Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay – it’s warm and relaxing, just what you need for summer. Unfortunately, I read this under a pile of blankets with a summer cold but it was just the treat I needed. Because that’s what this book is, a treat. It’s simply delicious, combining love, mix-ups, heartfelt reunions and delicious takedowns all in one big box. All the twists and turns (and some are a little out there, it must be said) are just a bonus. Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay is a true delight – it’s like opening a box of chocolates to find it only contains your favourites!

The overarching theme is love, in all forms and sizes. It seems that all our characters have issues that are best solved by true love in the gorgeous seaside backdrop of St Carys, a seaside resort town in Cornwall. We open with Clemency, a real estate agent, finding true love in the seat next to her on a plane, until her seatmate Sam tells her after landing that he’s married. Fast forward three years, and Clemency is single but pretty happy. Then her stepsister Belle brings home her new boyfriend, who is looking for a place in St Carys. Of course, it just happens to be Sam! Belle lords it over Clemency yet again, until Clemency decides to invent a fake relationship with Belle’s ex-crush and her best friend Ronan. Ronan is known in town for being a ladies’ man, but he’s okay with the pretend relationship as he lost his heart to mail-lady Kate months ago. Plus, he really wants to find his birth mother without upsetting his beloved adoptive mother. Painter and friend Marina hides a secret – and it’s not her annoying ex-husband, as does Kate. Will all of this unjumble itself?

Of course it will, but it’s an absolute delight getting to that point. Plus, there are even more twists (only one of which I saw coming) that make reading this novel so delicious. It’s incredibly funny in places too. And the final wedding – well, that was the piece de resistance. Master subterfuge right there! I read over half this novel in one day as it really is that much fun. The characters range from gorgeous (Ronan with his cheeky ways) to sweet (Sam, the man with a heart of gold). Even the minor characters, such as the pharmacy assistants who seem to do nothing but gossip are quirky and individual. But my favourite character was Marina’s ex-husband George who is equal parts repulsive and hilarious in his self-assured, blind faith that he is God’s gift to women!

There’s plenty to love about this book – it’s warm, witty and as sparkly as the sea on a summer’s day. Yes, it’s a fast read but it’s as satisfying as your favourite treat – without the calories.

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