Breathless by Louise Marley

I have to confess I really didn’t pay enough attention to the blurb for this book. I think I just saw the cover and skimmed the description, which was why what happened a little way into the story took me so much by surprise. The cover gave me the impression of a bright and light chick-lit type novel – it’s not. Actually, what it is an amazingly entertaining and gripping read. (NOTE: SINCE THIS REVIEW WAS WRITTEN, LOUISE HAS CHANGED THE COVER ON THE BOOK!)
Set in the ancient coastal town of Port Rell, this novel has everything. It’s kind of like The Famous Five for adults, with smugglers, historical diary entries, old shipwrecks, murder, mystery and romance. Sadly not much ginger beer, but even so…
Seriously, this book is well worth reading. I quickly became hooked, wanting to know just what the heck was going on in Port Rell and who was behind it all.
The heroine of the novel is Lainey, a young girl whose entire life has been dominated by the wreck of the Mary Eliza, a ship which may or may not lie in the waters off Port Rell. Her father was obsessed with the wreck’s whereabouts and it cost him his life. Lainey wants to prove that he was right and is desperate to find proof that the Mary Eliza exists, but she’s not the only one.
Before long, Lainey finds herself a suspect in a murder case and is caught in a baffling mystery, not knowing who she can trust and losing everything as events twist and turn around her.
So what did I love about this novel? Well, Lainey herself is a great heroine. She’s very independent, very strong minded and far from helpless. However, she does make mistakes and she’s certainly not perfect. I also loved the setting. Port Rell is a character in itself, beautifully described and inhabited by some fascinating characters. I liked the diary entries from the late seventeenth century which provided a lovely subplot. Lainey’s friends were nicely drawn, too, and I really liked the mysterious Greg.
I loved the fact that the first shock came quite early in the book. Without giving anything away, it really did leave me breathless as I just wasn’t expecting it. After that, I was never sure who was behind the sinister happenings and was as baffled as Lainey, wondering if Greg was someone I could really trust and not being certain about anyone!
I would definitely recommend this novel. It’s a real adventure story for grown ups with a touch of romance to warm the heart and some intriguing and entertaining characters. The only thing I would possibly change would be the cover. Lovely for a different sort of story, it really doesn’t do this gem of a novel justice. 5/5

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