03 May 2012

Book Review: Dangerous Waters by Anne Allen

Title: Dangerous Waters
Author: Anne Allen
Publisher: Matador (an imprint of Troubador Publishing)
Format: Paperback
302 pages
Genre: Fiction
Source: Author

Set on the island of Guernsey, Dangerous Waters by Anne Allen is a captivating story about a young woman reluctantly returning to her birthplace after a family tragedy that occurred fifteen years before.  Jeanne Le Page has tried to forget about the terrifying incident when she lost both her parents but now her beloved grandmother has died and left her cottage to Jeanne.

Jeanne's initial plan is to stay just long enough to sell her inheritance, however, when she tells close family friends, Molly and Peter about her plan, they persuade her to get the old cottage renovated and then to decide whether to sell or stay.

Jeanne begins to feel at home again but being back on the island has also increased her nightmares and flashbacks to the tragic incident on her parent's boat. The case has never been closed because there were no other witnesses and Jeanne suffers from traumatic amnesia. So Jeanne decides to try a series of sessions using hypnosis, and unintentionally puts herself in danger as she begins to recall details.

While the cottage is being renovated, Jeanne sorts out her grandmother's collection of old recipes and is intrigued when she finds some mysterious love letters written to her grandmother. In the meantime, a shocking secret is discovered dating back to the time during the German Occupation.

As Jeanne spends more time trying to find out more about her grandmother's mysterious past, Jeanne gets closer to solving the mystery about what happened to her own parents too. And Jeanne begins to think about staying on the island after meeting up with old friends and being introduced to new friends.

As two men vie for her affections, will one of them win her heart? Will Jeanne be able to put the past behind her? Will she decide to stay in Guernsey or go back to England?

The author has cleverly wound the different strands (romance/mystery) of the storyline together until the exciting end when they are resolved.

The vivid island setting is enhanced with fascinating details about life on Guernsey during WWII when the island was occupied by German troops, as well as interesting information about Guernsey in present day. The book also includes a useful glossary at the end as well as a selection of four recipes.

It's worth noting that the author, Anne Allen, lived in Guernsey for twelve years and that she is a psychotherapist (just like one of the characters in the story). Dangerous Waters is her first novel.

Dangerous Waters is an immensely satisfying story that effortlessly combines a sweet romance with two compelling mysteries, and convincing characters. It's a lovely, thoughtful story about facing loss and finding love.

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