“A remote cottage on the wild coast of Cornwall sounded to Blythe Barton Stowe like the perfect escape from the pain and humiliation of recent events in her Hollywood life. But soon she seems to be reliving a centuries-old tragedy, and the handsome owner of the shabby manor house on the hill appears vitally entwined in her destiny. As they unearth one shocking family secret after another, Blythe is forced to conclude that her intriguing neighbor is more than just an impecunious British gentleman bent on saving his ancestral home. And the impeccably honorable Lucas Teague begins to see Blythe as a lifeline in an otherwise bleak existence.
But is the unbridled attraction they’re experiencing a dangerous distraction, or could it be strong enough to transcend the insurmountable complexities of time and place?”
* * *
In recent months I became aware of author Ciji Ware because of the recent reissue of her novel, Island of the Swans, which was garnering high praise from critics. Given the opportunity to read her reissue of A Cottage by the Sea, I looked forward to becoming acquainted with this author’s work.
I found A Cottage by the Sea to be well-suited for me as a reader. I enjoy historical novels, particularly romantic ones set in Britain, wherein some of my heritage lies. Sea also features some elements of time travel as well as the glamour of Hollywood, both of which are entertaining features. Those interested in genealogy will also find Ware’s storylines to be interesting—she even offers a detailed family tree graphic within the opening pages.
The novel is somewhat divided between modern day and turn of the 18th century. The main character Blythe Barton Stowe doesn’t experience time travel in the traditional sense, but her experience comes very close to it. It seems that all the main characters are inextricably tied through family lineages, time and fate. Some may define happenings in this novel as paranormal in nature, but I would describe these intriguing events to be more fantastical and not darkly paranormal in any way.
As a mother of a ten year-old boy, I could relate to the characters as they lived, loved and struggled with the children in their lives, most notably ten year-old Richard, son of main character Lucas Teague. Richard’s desire for parental affection was very touching, reminding me of the importance of showing my own son my love for him as well.
The narrative itself was very enjoyable. There were very few slow moments in these chapters, with some cliffhangers as Ware shifted her storytelling from one era to another. Her ability to entwine these two timelines pushed the story forward, leading to end results that were gratifying as well as realistic.
Conservative readers should know that there is a bit of sexual content within this romance. While it doesn’t dominate the story, there are several scenes of lovemaking that go beyond a PG-rated level. There’s also a bit of colorful language, but similarly it isn’t dominating. I merely present these thoughts in order to allow readers to make a somewhat informed choice.
While I found many chapters in A Cottage by the Sea to be captivating, I particularly enjoyed the ones near the conclusion. Many characters experienced redemption, forgiveness, healing and new beginnings. The events of the past influenced the future in many restorative ways. This allowed for a well-formed narrative and skillful character development.
A Cottage by the Sea was originally published in 1997. Like Ciji Ware, I’m glad she had the opportunity to revisit this work, tweaking it a bit and offering it to the public once again. Those of us who get the chance to enjoy the fruits of her labor are bestowed a lovely gift, to be enjoyed as the many flowers found alongside her cottage by the sea.
This title was provided to me by Sourcebooks Landmark. No obligation other than an honest review was required.