This week sees the announcement of the winner of the 2017 Joan Hessayon Award at the Romantic Novelists’ Association Summer Party. The competition is open to all graduates of the RNA New Writers’ Scheme. One of the contenders is Morton S Gray with her novel, The Girl on the Beach, which I am pleased to review:
Deep, dark, full of suspense but with a heart-warming love story at its core; The Girl on the Beach certainly hits the brief of ‘Romantic Suspense’.
It’s fair to say Ellie Golden has had a pretty rough past. After suffering domestic abuse at the hands of ex-husband, Rushton, we first meet Ellie, divorced and settled in the seaside town of Borteen where she runs her own art gallery and is single-handedly raising her son, fifteen year old Tom. She is dealing with the typical issues of raising a teen – something I certainly identified with – and the daily struggle of paying the bills on one income. Keen to encourage the next generation in their creativity, the novel begins with Ellie judging the art exhibition at Tom’s school, Borteen High. Her co-judge is the soon-to-be new Headmaster, Harry Dixon, only Ellie has an instant recognition of Harry. He reminds her of someone from her past. A man called Ben Rivers. A dead man.
I don’t want to say too much more than that because I don’t want to spoil the plot! Suffice to say, Morton S Gray has cleverly interwoven a dramatic, tense and thrilling plotline with a tender love story at its core. With believable characters like Mandy, Ellie’s best friend, and Nick, a peer of Tom’s who benefits from the mentoring scheme set-up by the school, the novel was, for me, more than just a suspense novel of what was going to happen next; the author has tackled themes, like how tough it can be being a single parent. What stood out most to me was the theme of domestic abuse which was well written, believable and came across as authentic.
If you are looking for a page turner full of action, love and suspense, The Girl on the Beach won’t disappoint.
Finally, I would like to wish all fellow NWS graduates good luck this week (I am a graduate but as my novel has yet to be published I will be contending next year!), especially my fellow Choc Lit Authors, Morton S Gray, Victoria Cornwall and Lynda Stacey, mwha!