Title: The Shack by the Bay
Author: Lea Davey
Published: July 30th 2016
Publisher: Valeena Press
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Australian
Rating: 4 stars
An isolated fishing shack on a beautiful bay in the Whitsundays provides Luke with a retreat where he can find peace and solitude. However, the discovery of family war relics, and a developing relationship with the beautiful Lily, connects family histories and reveals a story that threatens to destroy his chance at real happiness.
Will the wartime secrets prove to be the breaking point for a beautiful romance? Or can two families put the deeds of the past behind them?
Romantic and purely Australian, The Shack by the Bay captures the pristine beauty of the Whitsundays and the wartime memories of older Australians while introducing an eclectic blend of friends and family.
A fishing shack nestled in the picturesque and tranquil setting of the Whitsundays, north Queensland, is the anchor of Australian author Lea Davey’s first novel, The Shack by the Bay. This shack is the place where a forbidden wartime romance played out. It is also the place that draws two souls in the present day together, as their family histories are intertwined with one another and this special shack by the bay.
In the present day, Luke is the owner of a little run down shack, located in the stunning, as well as pristine locale of the Whitsundays. Luke finds himself rummaging through things contained in the shack he has inherited. He comes across a tin containing relics from the war that are directly related to his family history. As Luke pieces together a forbidden war time romance that played out in the shack he now owns, Luke is naturally curious. Delving into this family history brings Lily into Luke’s world. Lily is a young woman who does not yet know of her connection to Luke. As a beautiful but complicated contemporary romance sparks in the old shack, memories from past times at the very same shack come alive.
The Shack by the Bay signals my introduction to the writing of Australian author Lea Davey. As I am blessed to live near a beautiful coastal region myself, complete with a bay, I felt very drawn to this book. The inviting premise, as well as the textured feel of the cover, immediately drew me in. Overall, it was a pleasurable experience from cover to cover to be given the opportunity to read this book.
What immediately struck me about The Shack by the Bay was the strong sense of place that exudes from this book. Although I am yet to pay a visit to this truly magical part of Australia, Lea Davey provides the reader with the next best thing. Her imagery of the various locations that are featured in the novel are simply sublime. As a result, I could easily picture the shack and surrounding location of the story in my mind. It also worked to remind me that I must visit this side of Australia soon!
The pace of this novel was more of a gentle amble. Normally I race through books at breakneck speed but this is definitely one of those books that made me step down a notch. I enjoyed the slower, relaxed style of this novel, which is in keeping of its setting. I relished the respite it gave me.
The Shack by the Bay features solid main and secondary characters. Luke is a well formed protagonist, with a compelling, as well as complex family background. Emotionally, Luke’s story, from the loss of his parents, to the beauty of the relationship he had with his grandparents moved me. In particular, Luke’s memories and interactions with his Grandfather ‘Pa’ jogged some emotional responses from my own relationship with my dearly missed grandfather. There are other minor protagonists who add further character to this novel and I experienced genuine sense of ‘knowing’ these people. Lily, Luke’s love interest and the female lead, took an interesting path of growth through the novel. I enjoyed reading these parts. The contemporary romance between Luke and Lily is not smooth sailing and although I didn’t completely agree with either Lily or Luke’s actions at various points in the novel, I still like how Davey handled their budding relationship.
By far the most interesting and memorable aspect of The Shack by the Bay would be the historical thread. The letters that Luke discovers and what they reveal had my eyes glued to the page. The unfolding love story that was doomed due to a racial differences, societal attitudes and world events at the time was compelling to read. It made me a shed a little tear for the outcome and the impact this wartime romance had on future generations. There is no doubt that Lea Davey excels in bringing this wartime romance to floor, in an authentic and historically grounded way.
The Shack by the Bay offers the reader a heartfelt story on taking a chance on love in the present and finding your family roots, no matter how painful. It is a novel that offers a wonderful linkage between the present and the past, while also showcasing the natural beauty of a spectacular slice of Australia. I am more than keen to read much more from a new author I am pleased to have discovered.
The Shack by the Bay by Lea Davey was published in July 2016 by Valeena Press.
Learn more about the author of The Shack by the Bay, Lea Davey here.
*With thanks to the author, Lea Davey, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.