Can love truly heal old wounds? Can the past ever be put peacefully to rest?
Falling in love is the easy bit. Happy ever after requires work, commitment and honesty.
When former Edinburgh policeman Jack Baxter met crofter and author Rachel Campbell at her home on the Scottish island of Skye, they fell in love. It was a second chance at happiness for them both.
But after Jack proposes marriage, it becomes clear they want different things.
Then, as Rachel prepares to return to the Middle East to work on a peacemaking project that’s close to her heart, and as Jack’s past catches up with him, it seems their relationship is doomed.
Can Rachel compromise on her need to maintain her hard-won independence?
Can Jack survive the life-threatening situation in which he finds himself?
Will they get the chance to put things right between them?
I love doing Kelly’s Tours with Love Books Group as no two books she ever wants me to review are the same. When I read that Anne Stormont was a fellow Scot I was intrigued as I always like supporting Scottish writers and think that promoting books from Independent publishers can be one of the best things about being a book blogger – as you get to read books that you might never have been exposed to before and hear what all your other blogging friends thought too. It’s like a virtual book group where you are waiting every day to see what other people enjoyed about your book…
I was really intrigued to read Settlement as even though I knew that it was a sequel, I was told it could be read as a stand-alone and I loved the fact that it had that ‘Scottish connection’ As soon as this book arrived, I wanted to open it up and find out who Jack Baxter was and why he and Rachel were finding it so hard to maintain a life together after falling in love in such a gorgeous place. I loved this initial premise and I found this book totally engrossing once I’d started: I really wanted to get to the heart of their relationship and discover what had brought them to this point.
I also enjoyed the way that Anne Stormont’s novel allows us to see the reality of love, rather than just the ‘happy ever after’ that we are so often presented with in fiction and I think that this is one of the things that I enjoyed most about this book.
The way that Anne builds in the uncertainties about what’s right for them and increases our understanding of what is going on in the heads of both of these characters is convincingly done and leads to you feeling like you can really imagine yourself sitting down and catching up with these characters. Rachel is an interesting and well-drawn character and I’m looking forward to hearing what my sister thought of her over a long coffee date as soon as possible.
The scenes where these two are trying to deal with the ramifications of the past and the current pressures on their relationship have an incredibly realistic feel and the way they build up and threaten to overwhelm this pair mean that you really develop your sense of compassion for them as the novel progresses. I thoroughly enjoyed the idea of Rachel’s escape to the Middle East and felt that the balance between her future desires and Jack’s past was just right – allowing the reader to keep being pulled forward to the next development to get a truer sense of what they both really need in life and what might happen as a result.
Settlement is a refreshing read as it dares to be more than just another romance and takes a genuine look at what we sometimes sacrifice in the pursuit of happiness in a way that never feels ‘worthy’ or sermonising. It allows us a glance into a relationship where peoples’ needs are complex and real and dares us to ask ourselves what we might have lost along the way in our own lives. Its dual setting in Skye and Israel is another aspect that I really enjoyed and it really made me feel like I was able to immerse myself in both settings – which are so different in atmosphere that this is a real testament to Anne’s writing.
I always enjoy a book much more if I’m not hyping myself up before I read it and Settlement was exactly that. It was definitely a grower and I found myself thinking about Jack and Rachel’s life choices and their repercussions whilst driving to work and marking my essays at school. I will definitely seek out more books by Anne Stormont and am keen to travel back in time and read the first novel, Displacement, as a prequel. It’s a real testament to Anne Stormont’s writing that we really believe in their relationship and can empathise with their feelings of being torn between fulfilling your own dreams with loving another person with all the complications that brings.
You can buy yourself a copy of the book here
Writer On The Shelf
Anne Stormont writes contemporary romantic fiction where the main characters are older but not necessarily wiser. She hopes the stories she tells will entertain, but she also hopes they will move, challenge and inspire her readers. She has written three novels so far – Change of Life was her first. This was followed by Displacement and its sequel Settlement.
Anne is a Scot, living in the land of her birth. She’s a retired teacher and when she’s not writing, she’s a compulsive crossworder, yoga practitioner, avid reader, keen walker and gardener. She also loves spending time with friends and family – especially her two grandchildren.
She has recently moved from the Isle of Skye to the Scottish Borders. She has travelled the world and has visited every continent except Antarctica –where considering her penchant for penguins she really must go.
She says she is a subversive old bat but maintains a kind heart.