13 November 2016

Book Review: Wildflower Bay by Rachael Lucas

"This little island has some big secrets...

Isla's got her dream job as head stylist at the most exclusive salon in Edinburgh. The fact that she's been so single-minded in her career that she's forgotten to have a life has completely passed her by - until disaster strikes.

Out of options, she heads to the remote island of Auchenmor to help out her aunt who is in desperate need of an extra pair of scissors at her salon.

A native to the island, Finn is thirty-five and reality has just hit him hard. His best friends are about to have a baby and everything is changing. When into his life walks Isla . . ."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy the book now.

I have really enjoyed the few Rachael Lucas books I have read to date, so I was very pleased to be sent a review copy of her latest novel Wildflower Bay. This is set on a small Scottish island called Auchenmor, where Isla finds herself after her aunt falls in and needs help at her hairdressing salon. Isla is forced to leave behind the glamorous lights of Edinburgh, swapping posh hair-dos for something far less exciting. However, she doesn't plan on bumping into handsome islander Finn. But Isla is counting down the days until she leaves Auchenmor... is there going to be something that makes her want to stay?

Something I really enjoyed about this book was how Rachael Lucas manages to bring the island of Auchenmor, which has been lovingly nicknamed Wildflower Bay by a local lady, to life through her writing - I could imagine everything clearly from Isla in her small little flat, to the salon, the views, the ferry and the beautiful island scenery. It sounded beautiful and remote, and although I could understand why Isla was keen to return home, part of me wanted her to fall in love with the island and its slow pace of life and move there, it did sound idyllic!

There aren't that many characters in this book, but sometimes that works perfectly in a novel, and this was definitely the case here. The book follows Isla, who I liked very much. I felt, though, that she was trying to prove herself for the wrong reasons - it wasn't about making herself a better person, it was about impressing everyone she went to school with, to show them that she had been a success despite what they thought many years ago. I enjoyed the part of the story where Isla went to a school reunion, somewhat reluctantly, but it certainly opened her eyes and I liked how the focus and her priorities changed from there.

Finn was a wonderful character. He had a bit of a muddled past, and I admired him for the family dramas he has endured, and there were some very touching scenes in there involving members of his family, particularly towards the end of the book. I'm not going to lie - it had me in tears, and Lucas' writing for this part was just brilliant, portraying the raw emotion of these scenes so beautifully and treating them delicately. You could see why Finn caught Isla's eye, even if he was only one of a few eligible bachelors on the island! The other characters include the young women who work with Isla at her aunt's salon, and Isla's father, albeit not very much.

For me, the draw of this book is in Lucas' descriptive writing. I loved imagining everything on the island throughout the book, I could close my eyes and imagine I was travelling around with Isla, it just sounds wonderful and certainly somewhere that would be just my cup of tea! I also loved the friendly atmosphere the island had, with everyone looking out for each other, it did sound quite perfect. But woven in among this was a lovely story of personal growth, someone realising that success isn't measured by what others think of you, and of course, a little possible romance thrown in there too. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and am very much looking forward to more from Rachael Lucas!

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