Title: The House on Sunset Lake
Author: Tasmina Perry
Published: August 25th 2016
Publisher: Headline Review/Hachette Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 3 stars
Tasmina Perry is the bestselling author of The Last Kiss Goodbye and The Proposal. Her new novel is a heart-wrenching love story bejewelled with mysteries and dark secrets, set in the Deep South. If you love sailing away with Santa Montefiore’s novels or unwrapping the layers of the latest Rachel Hore, you will adore losing yourself in this book.
1995. Savannah, Georgia, where the sunsets are long and golden and the air is hot and heavy with promise. Student Jim Johnson isn’t happy when he has to abandon his plans of a carefree month of inter-railing to spend the summer in the Deep South with his mother and his father, a down-on-his luck author who has been sent to Savannah to rediscover his muse. But when Jim meets the beguiling Jennifer Wyatt, the daughter of the owners of Casa Seta, the mysterious plantation house on the shores of a lake, Jim knows he has made the right decision in coming along. Until an event happens that shatters Jim and Jennifer’s lives for ever and sets both their lives on a different course.
2015. Twenty Years later Casa Seta stands abandoned and neglected, a victim of tragic events that everyone wants to keep buried. But when Jim Johnson’s boss buys it as the latest acquisition to his hotel chain, Jim is forced to return to the house and restore it to its former glory. Fate throws him back into the orbit of Jennifer Wyatt, the woman his heart has never truly got over, but as he tries to put the ghosts of the past behind him, he unearths a chilling secret that makes him wonder what he has ever really known about the people he loves.
There were a number of features that caught my eye when I chose to read The House on Sunset Lake by Tasmina Perry. Firstly, I was drawn to the stunning over image of a rambling lake house that looked like it was holding whole host secrets. Secondly, I was also attracted to the title of the book itself. The House on Sunset Lake is a title that suggests intrigue. Finally, upon perusing the blurb, I was soon convinced that this was my type of novel, as I adore dual narratives and books that hold secrets for the reader to unlock.
Onto the blurb, The House on Sunset Lake is one complicated boy meets girl love story. One summer, over twenty years ago, Jim Johnson makes the fateful trip to the deep south region in the United States with his mother and father. Taking up residence in a sprawling plantation property named Casa D’Or, the Johnson family plan to spend the summer at the mansion by the lake, so Jim’s father Bryn can write in the tranquil surrounds. When Jim meets the daughter of the owners of Casa D’Or, Jennifer Wyatt, his life changes in an instant. He falls madly in love with Jennifer but Jennifer is promised to her childhood sweetheart Connor. This arranged engagement doesn’t get in their way and the two embark on a sweet love affair. Jennifer plans to leave Connor and commit herself fully to Jim. However, a tragic event intervenes in their plans and the two are torn apart. Twenty years later, by chance, Jim returns to Casa D’Or with plans to renovate it from a family home, to a luxury hotel. This leads him straight back to Jennifer, who is now married to Connor. As Jim’s plans to refurbish Casa D’Or moves ahead, Jennifer and Jim’s unresolved relationship comes to the surface. A deep seated family secret connected to the lake house and impacting Jennifer and Jim directly, is also eventually revealed. The revelation of this secret changes the course of Jennifer and Jim’s decision to give their love a second chance.
Tasmina Perry is an author I used to read some years ago, particularly when I was after a beach friendly, or chick lit style novel. I can see over the years Perry’s writing has evolved and now she has tackled the popular dual narrative style of novel. Although the time frame in The House on Sunset Lake is relatively small (twenty years) between the events in the past and the present day, I felt they worked well in this novel. I found the structure of this novel acted as a good incentive to continue to stay with the novel. I really wanted to get to the bottom of the secret as to how and why Jim and Jennifer never made it as a couple twenty years ago. Once I reached this part of the novel, I was shocked by the turn events.
In addition to the appealing dual narrative, the characters, both major and minor, are an intriguing feature in The House on Sunset Lake. Perry takes time to explore each character that appears in her novel, offering a good outline of each protagonist – so that the reader comes to understand their strengths, flaws, motivations and fears.
By far, what I appreciated the most about The House on Sunset Lake was the reflective and reminiscent tone of the novel. I am sure many readers will appreciate the themes that run through The House at Sunset Lake. At its core, this is a book about second chances and life altering secrets. The House on Sunset Lake offers the reader the ideal blend of romance, drama and mystery.
The House on Sunset Lake would make the ideal beach companion. It is a light read, offering the reader an interesting tale that delves into past, with secrets aplenty to uncover. The themes of missed opportunities in love and reconnection will appeal to many readers, especially the romantics at heart.
The House on Sunset Lake by Tasmina Perry was published in August 2016 by Headline Review/Hachette Australia, details on how to purchase the book can be found here.