Author: Xavier Mayne
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Newly turned thirty, Cameron North is preparing himself to spend his life alone. When he inherits his great-aunt’s teashop on the remote island of Farlough, he returns for the first time in more than a dozen years to a place where memories—and demons—flit close to the surface of his mind. There he meets Gwyneth, a sassy barista who becomes his instant best friend—until Cam discovers she’s the wife of his first love, Matthias. She has only the best of intentions when she arranges a reunion between the two men, and it forces them to finally discuss why Cam left the island so long ago.
With his heart broken anew, Cam retreats to his great-aunt’s house—where he learns he is not alone. Someone—or something—has pledged an oath to look out for Cam, and as he investigates the presence, he uncovers wounds that both he and his mysterious guardian sought to escape by coming to Farlough. Now Cam must figure out how to heal them—and himself.
Cameron North has just turned 30, has a job he enjoys in New York City, spending time with his closest friend, Ari, but he is not happy. An appointment with a lawyer handling the will for his late Aunt, with very specific instructions for him, seems to come at a bad time, until an email from his employer makes it perfect timing. Off he returns to Farlough, an island described as “east of England, west of Denmark and south of Norway”, in the North sea, and only accessible by ferry from Aberdeen, Scotland! While he is not sure if this is the best or worst idea, after handing his apartment to Ari, off he goes.
The story is told primarily from Cam’s point of view, although there are two chapters where Gwyneth and Matthias get to offer additional information on the characters.
This is the first book I have read by this author and I really enjoyed it. While Cam is tough to figure out at first, I liked the idea that he took this challenge on, although he seemed to try and make himself unaffected by the return to Farlough and loss of his aunt. His trip is not only melancholy for memories from his last visit at 17, but for not staying more in touch with his Aunt, and having to learn just how much she loved him, was proud of him and hoped he would return from the townsfolk he comes across. Although Aunt Hilda is already gone when the story begins, her presence is strong throughout the story and she sounds like an incredible person, perhaps one we could all try to emulate!
I quite like stories that are journeys for the characters and this one definitely fits the bill, revisiting the past to make peace with it, trying to determine what his path will once he fulfills his stay in Farlough, approaching the place as an adult, rather than a child or teen who only summers there. That would have been one detail I would have liked to have explored further – if his attending boarding school away from the island was something his parents had set up for him, or his Aunt to give him better opportunities than if he’d been educated on the island. A bit more background on that would have been great, but it was well written to try and sort out the mystery that was Cam and the choices he’d been making at such a young age, while he tries to sort out the mystery of who is tending house, supplying food and even leaving him notes at one point.
The synopsis at the retailers does give a few of the plot points away, but not everything, and if you enjoy stories about new beginnings, healing the past with some humor and romance thrown in, I believe you will enjoy this story. There are a few sex scenes, but nothing overly graphic as the story is about the character and his journey. The author managed to make me laugh, cry and I had a hard time putting the book down as I wanted to see what choice Cam would make, so I was definitely captured by it and will likely have it on my 2017 favorites list since it was a bit out of the ordinary.