A really enjoyable then-and-now tale…
I’m not normally a big fan of romantic suspense, but I do usually like the “parallel stories in different times” theme. So I was happy to receive an advance review copy of Kerry Barrett’s The Smuggler’s Daughter, which has two intertwined storylines – separated in time, but both revolving around the same pub on the coast of Cornwall.
In the long-ago story, Emily Moon is the daughter of the pub owner, who is being pressured to allow smugglers to use his pub as a storehouse. Emily has a speaking impairment which makes it difficult for her to communicate, but after she witnesses her father’s murder, she has to do something. Meanwhile, in the present, Phoebe Bellingham is a DS with a traumatic case in her recent past. So when her childhood best friend could use some help at the pub, Phoebe sees a good chance to get away and get a bit of space to work through her career issues. While in Cornwall she becomes fascinated by the bits-and-pieces that are still told of Emily’s story, and tries to figure out what really happened. But it also turns out that the pub is still an attractive spot for smugglers, and Phoebe finds she can’t leave her professional life behind after all.
Barrett does a good job of moving smoothly between the two periods, and although there isn’t really a lot of mystery to either story, I still found myself reading late into the night. Since this is romantic suspense, Emily and Phoebe each have a potential romantic interest, but I won’t say much more on that topic to avoid spoilers. Barrett doesn’t ignore reality either, though – she doesn’t hide that life could be harsh, both in Emily’s time and today.
All-in-all, I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed this book, and I will now keep an eye out for some of Barrett’s other books. Please note that I tend to try to fight “star-flation” a bit, and so I don’t give many 5-star reviews, maybe only one in thirty or forty books that I read. What that means is that the 4-star rating I’m giving The Smuggler’s Daughter is a solid “read” recommendation. And my thanks to HQ Digital for the advance review copy!