Author: Xavier Mayne
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 250 Pages
At a Glance: All in all, this book had the promise of delivering a mighty punch, but fell a bit short for me.
Reviewed By: Taz
Blurb: 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.
Review: Farlough has the feel of a Harlequin novel to it, with flourishes of language and proper decorum (besmirched at times by naughty thoughts and bedroom antics). Descriptions, moments, and slight turns of phrase were meticulously written in such a smooth and careful manner, making the words the star of this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the way Xavier Mayne crafted his story.
Cam sipped the tea, and all he could taste was lack. Lack of his great-aunt, lack of any family whatsoever, lack of love in his life. It was a cup of absence, and he let it linger in his throat until it burned.
Unfortunately, for me, that is as far as my enjoyment of this book went.
The primary missing element was a likable protagonist. Cam was more of an opportunist in this book, his life shaping nicely, but due to the actions of others and not due to any choice of his own. And we are robbed of the actual change of heart when he makes his final decision, learning of it after the fact. Beginning with his aunt, who adored him, and followed by a cast of characters, all of whom (except for one with whom Cam shares a personal history) adored Cam as the heir of their First Lady of Farlough. He didn’t really have to work at all to be given a spot of honor, and therefore, his choices and the victories lacked fire for me.
The other aspect of the book that didn’t work for me was how quickly and completely major reconciliations and life choices rose and resolved. There were many twists and turns in this story, each one big enough to throw a person for an emotional loop, yet Cam and the other characters prove to be remarkable in their ability to instantly accept and move past these life-altering moments.
In terms of issues the author addresses, the book is relatable. We’ve all had our hearts broken (except for a rare one or two people), and we’ve all made choices we regret and have to somehow reconcile. The scenes where these are addressed are well-written and I enjoyed them, tempered by the earlier comment that they resolved too quickly and easily. However, in each of those moments, the story and writing was quite lovely.
All in all, this book had the promise of delivering a mighty punch, but fell a bit short for me.
You can buy Farlough here: