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May 26, 2010

Book Review: A Cottage By the Sea by Ciji Ware

A Cottage By the Sea by Ciji Ware
Sourcebooks Reissue, June 2010; Random House 1997
$15.99 544 pages
Review copy provided by the Publisher, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:Five stars!

Some might call it running away..

But after a scandalous Hollywood divorce, Blythe Stowe considered it damage control for body and soul. The pain, the humiliation, the daily tabloids shouting details as her famous husband dumped her for her own sister demanded a serious getaway: to the wild coast of Cornwall and a cottage by the sea that her Wyoming grandmother claimed had been home to her ancestors.

Some might call it chance..

But Blythe encountered more than just a quaint retreat nestled amid vivid skies and gorgeous ocean. And she had the odd sensation that her wickedly handsome neighbor Lucas Teague was more than a British gentleman going broke. He might be her destiny..

This is a delightfully fun novel that contains essences of romance and history and modern times all expertly crafted into a cohesive and addictive narrative. Blythe Barton whisks herself to Cornwall to escape the prying reporters and her ruined marriage, and the reader gets to know and like Blythe as she rediscovers herself during this much needed respite. Complete with a captivating historical atmosphere of a misty Cornwall, author Ciji Ware does a fabulous job of recreating the nuances of epic authors such as Daphne Du Maurier and Mary Stewart.

I was one of the readers of the recent reissue of Island of the Swans by Ciji Ware (reviewed here) and I had fallen in love with Ware's writing style. While the last novel was more about a true historical character, A Cottage by The Sea offers a modern tone with flashback settings to 1700's England. The novel mentioned Daphne Du Maurier several times, and there were many times especially during the flashback settings that the gothic style was prominent within the book.

Blythe Barton finds herself with an uncanny ability to see into the past, and this past contains her probable ancestors of the Barton/Trevelyan clan of the eighteenth century. While renovating Cornish property Blythe comes across a framed family tree that beckons her soul. The owner of the Cornish property where Blythe finds her quaint English retreat is of course a handsome sexy man who Blythe falls for immediately. She goes into business with him, among other things, and along the way tries to recuperate and heal from her messy divorce. Strong family ties are a theme in this novel, with the past family members invading her thoughts as well as Blythe's present-day family; such as her grandmother's quotes and her immature, conniving and betraying sister. Since the novel echoes with themes of gothic romance novels, this one made me want to delve into Du Maurier and Mary Stewart again. I really enjoyed the details of the land and the old estate which featured a castle, of course.

Blythe needs to find the missing link of the past and find contentment in the present, and readers are taken through a haunting love triangle of the past that reverberates mystery and intrigue throughout the novel. I loved the past day revelations the most, and the characters of the past deserve a novel all their own. The supernatural elements were believable and added much to the story without becoming outlandish. Ciji Ware does a splendid job of merging the two stories into a suspenseful family saga that I loved getting lost in. Prudish readers like me who are not accustomed to ardent loves scenes may find themselves blushing at a few intervals in the novel. I would have appreciate a lot more depth to the characters overall, but I was totally entertained by the novel and that's all I would ask for in this type of read. This was a very enjoyable adventure that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to history lovers, romance readers and even those who like a little trip to the past via ghosts. The story was written so well with the links of the past to the present complete with the genealogy chart that had me wishing that the story was true.

I previously featured the author Ciji Ware at The Burton Review, read the interview here. My review of Island of The Swans can be found at this link.