Cate Boyd is searching for a place where nobody knows her name. The sleepy Maltese village of Xlendi offers privacy, anonymity, and the serene life she craves, far from her former world. But her peace is shattered when monolithic development company Vena announces its plans to level her village, and threatens to expose Cate’s secrets if she stands in its way.
The arrival of seductive, nosy professor Brandon Blackshaw seems too coincidental for comfort — especially when she discovers that Vena is his research partner. As the pressure mounts, Cate must decide which is more important: her hard-won privacy, or the future of her beloved Xlendi.
After the mysterious disappearance and implied death of her husband, Cate needed to escape from the accusations, stress and crushing memories. Her life started afresh in Xlendi, a small town on the coast of the Maltese island of Gozo, and Cate was finally finding some relief from the grief that was controlling her days.
But the appearance of handsome and mysterious college professor, Brandon throws a spanner into the works. The ever-present threat of Xlendi being taken over in the name of unfettered development brings Cate and Brandon together in a way neither expected. Even with the secrets she is holding from her past, his presence in her world (and in her house) shows her that maybe, just maybe, she might be able to leave behind the past and move forward.
I tell you now, after reading this book, I was ready to pack a bag and head off to Gozo. The words Gracie Macgregor uses to paint the picture of this village, its people and the romance between Cate and Brandon are exquisite, and you can almost see the setting without even closing your eyes.
I liked that despite Brandon’s connection to the developer that is eyeing off historic Xlendi, Cate didn’t entirely lose the plot and dismiss him out of hand. Where on occasion this story veered a little away from being a strict romance, the connection and chemistry between Cate and Brandon was really well done. It took a little while to get to that point where I was totally invested in them, but once I hit that, it was like “aah, now I get them”.
The mystery that is threaded through the story occasionally threatened to take over, but with careful and deft crafting by Ms Macgregor, this thankfully didn’t happen. What I thought was going to happen wasn’t what did, so it was nice to be surprised in this way.
I’ve been thoroughly blessed to be able to read some amazing work by Australian authors of late, and if Gracie Macgregor’s future work is anything like this, I cannot wait to read it. It’s hard to believe this is only her first book.
My rating: 4 out of 5
Release Date: 1 July 2013
Note: I was provided with an advanced reader copy of this book by Escape Publishing, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Australia via NetGalley in return for an honest review.