*Thank you Liz Eeles, Bookouture and Netgalley for my free copy of this book.*
For as long as Annie can remember, it has always been just her and her mother. She has no recollection of any other family members and the stories her mother told of her unknown relatives didn’t quite tempt her to pursue anything more.
When Annie’s mother passes away and she catches her boyfriend entangled with another woman, she feels more lonely than she ever has before, despite her strong attempts to be a free spirit. The only person she has that consistently has been a friend to her is Maura, who also doesn’t have the time to give Annie so much attention, due to practically raising her child alone because her husband refuses to do any sort of parental duties.
That is until, the letter burning inside of her handbag screams for attention and soon enough, Annie is on her way to the little town of Salt Bay, ready to be reunited with her great-aunt, Alice, who she never knew existed.
Books based on seaside towns are always my favourites and Annie’s story is no different. From the minute Annie steps in to Salt Bay, I knew that this was going to be a special place, holding a lot of special people inside of it – despite Annie’s attempts to escape the place because it’s too boring. Before I had stepped foot in London, I believed it was a city I wanted to live in, however, after experiencing the hustle and bustle for real, I would much prefer a cosy seaside town where the community is more like a family.
Liz described the town of Salt Bay so gorgeously; from the quirky townsfolk, ‘The Whistling Wave’ pub, the beaches, all the way to our handsome leading man, Josh Pasco. It’s really hard to come to terms with the fact Annie refuses to live in such a quaint and beautiful town and I wanted to explore it all for myself. Every part of me wanted to jump inside this book and take a stroll through the town with Annie and all the other wonderful people she gets to meet along the way.
Living with complete independence for twenty-nine years, Annie was overwhelmed by the love and attention that the people in Salt Bay were suddenly giving her and that was down to not knowing just how well-known and popular her secret family are. Alice, Annie’s great-aunt was a delightful character and had Annie wrapped around her thumb pretty much as soon as she stepped through the front door. A little vulnerable old lady like Alice could easily convince you to stay a little while longer, despite her attempts to fight against her ever-growing illness. One slip though, could have Annie holding a guilty conscience forever. The relationship between Alice and Annie starting off extremely rocky, with Annie’s negative outlook on her newly found family, she wanted to know how they could ever have abandoned her mother when she was young and pregnant. Annie agrees to stay in Salt Bay until Alice is able to find a full time carer – just enough time for Annie to find out all the secrets that had been so deeply buried for much too long. That is, until she finds out her mother had not been telling the whole truth and her relatives aren’t so bad after all.
Despite the drama coming your way, Annie meets so many more incredible people, such as Kayla, an Australian escaping her ‘perfect’ family, the entirety of the choir Annie has put together and moody, but delicious, Josh Pasco. Josh and Annie seem to continuously get underneath each other’s skin and most certainly didn’t have the best start to meeting one another. However, no matter how much they want to believe they despise each other, they find themselves drawn in. Their chemistry was gradual, but heart-warming, as Annie brought out the best in Josh and after finding out why his moods occurred on a daily 24/7 basis, the two began to work as a team and soon enough, the romance blossomed.
I really enjoyed watching Annie and Kayla piece together a new choir – in memory of the people the town had previously lost to a tragedy – and it warmed my heart to see Annie go from a woman who wanted nothing to do with her new family and the town, to a woman who wanted to reignite something special in to Salt Bay and give everybody hope that their broken hearts could soon again be mended.
‘Annie’s Lovely Choir by the Sea’ was an uplifting and inspiring story filled with loss, love and acceptance. I smiled from cheek to cheek, as Liz showed me that the most beautiful things can be found where you least expect them and to never take things for granted or hold a grudge, because you never know how much time you have left with people before it’s too late.
‘Annie’s Lovely Choir by the Sea’ is available on paperback and e-book now.