Thank you to Rachel from rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for Starting Over in Bellbird Bay, the third instalment of Maggie Christensen’s series set in a little town in Queensland.
About the book:
Starting Over in Bellbird Bay
Following the death of her husband, Cleo Johansen and her daughter moved to Bellbird Bay determined to make a new start. Having carved out a new life, Cleo is shattered when a shadow from her husband’s past throws their lives into disarray.
Will Rankin has lived in Bellbird Bay all his life. Now widowed, the former surf champion runs the local surf school and enjoys a close relationship with his son. Content to lead a single life, the appearance of an undesirable stranger is quick to upset his peaceful existence.
While neither Will nor Cleo is interested in forming a new relationship, an unexpected attraction surfaces when a mutual friend suggests they spend more time together.
Set against a background of sun, sea and sand, can Cleo and Will find a way to move forward together?
A heart-warming tale of family, friends, and how a second chance at love can happen when you least expect it.
Starting Over in Bellbird Bay is the third book set in in this lovely, tiny community in Queensland Australia. Judging by the cover, it must be a place full of sunshine and marvellous views.
The previous two books told us the story of Aisla McNeil and Martin Cooper, and Grace Winter and Tom Crawford. If you’ve been following the seies, you’ll be delighted to see the familiar faces. If this is your first visit to Bellbird Bay, don’t worry, the story is completely self-sufficient.
Cleo Johansen lost her husband Stan to a heart attack and decided to move away from their community to Bellbird Bay where Cleo quickly found a job as a cafe manager and her daughter Hannah graduated from school and left for university. now Hannah is back and about to take up a teaching job, but Cleo’s independent daughter would like to spread her wings and leave home to rent a house with her school friends Nate McNeil and Owen Rankin.
Will Rankin is highly respected in Bellbird Bay- he built up his business from scratch and is also involved in several charities. Will’s life has been marked by tragedy as he lost his older son in and his beloved wife Dee within one terrible year. He is a kind and gentle person, focused on his surf school and Owen, so when a tourist starts giving him unwanted attention bordering on stalking, he is at a loss what to do in order to stop this harrassment.
Luckily, his best friend’s Martin Cooper’s new partner Aisla has an idea which can be best described as a fake relationship with her pretty and reserved friend-Cleo. Can Cleo put aside her apprehension and try to see Will for what he really is and not what reminds her of her late husband? And what about a stranger who has contacted Hannah on Facebook and would like to bring up past events Cleo knew nothing about? Does Cleo owe it to her husband to hear out this person whatever her own feelings are?
There’s another huge shadow threatening the paradise life in Bellbird Bay-a new development on the Dolphin Beach might bring new business to the community, but it will definitely ruin the unspoilt beauty of the area and will endanger the local fauna. Will knows it is important to use political, non-violent means to oppose this proposal and gets busy drumming up the support for this campaign.
Maggie Christensen’s characters are more mature and have a lot of life experience which influences their love story. They are self-sufficient, but at the same time they appreciate this second chance for building up a new relationship without losing precious happy memories of the past. If you are wondering about ‘the fake’ aspect and how it would work out in a small town like this, no, they decide to do it properly and take a risk, but be honest, because they are genuinely interested in spending time together.
Maggie Christensen’s writing has a lot of detail- we do get to know not only our characters’ subtle feelings and worries, but also their clothes and meals. On one hand, it allows the reader to feel completely immersed, on the other hand, the pace is very steady.
If you like reading about a small town with a friendly local community, eco issues, complex and everchanging dynamics between parents and grown-up children, and opening up to a new relationship after being widowed, this book is for you.
Thank you to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources and the author for the review copy provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
Author Bio –
After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing contemporary women’s fiction portraying mature women facing life-changing situations, and historical fiction set in her native Scotland. Her travels inspire her writing, be it her trips to visit family in Scotland, in Oregon, USA or her home on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast. Maggie writes of mature heroines coming to terms with changes in their lives and the heroes worthy of them. Maggie has been called the queen of mature age fiction and her writing has been described by one reviewer as like a nice warm cup of tea. It is warm, nourishing, comforting and embracing.
From the small town in Scotland where she grew up, Maggie was lured to Australia by the call to ‘Come and teach in the sun’. Once there, she worked as a primary school teacher, university lecturer and in educational management. Now living with her husband of over thirty years on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the river on weekends. Her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven!
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