Thank you to the author, Lea Davey (Rhonda Forrest) for providing me with a copy of The Shack by the Bay in exchange for an honest review.
An isolated fishing shack on a beautiful bay in the Whitsundays provides Luke with a retreat where he can find peace and solitude. However, the discovery of family war relics, and a developing relationship with the beautiful Lily, connects family histories and reveals a story that threatens to destroy his chance at real happiness.
Will the wartime secrets prove to be the breaking point for a beautiful romance? Or can two families put the deeds of the past behind them?
Do you want to read an Australian historical romance novel that is refreshing and an absolute page turner? The Shack by the Bay had me from the first page and once finished I was left feeling content, happy and relaxed.
Set in a stunning location, I felt every calming breeze, smelled the salt water in the air and experienced a place that made me feel at home. The vivid descriptions of the Whitsundays, peaceful shack by the bay and the local pub had me hooked. As an Australian reader, I particularly appreciated the location, especially the Aussie small town vibe.
I love Lea Davey’s narrative style. Her choice of descriptions offer a subtle and gentle romantic tone throughout the novel. Luke’s love life is far from perfect and his experience of true love is nonexistent until he befriends bookshop attendant, Lily.
Luke, the protagonist, is a likeable character who was abandoned by his mother and was left with his grandparents at the age of six years old, two years after losing his father. My heart broke as I read of this turning moment in his life. His grandparents gave him the life he deserved, caring for him and loving him. His relationship with his Pa and the time they spent together fishing and reading made for a perfect start to the novel. His respect and love for his grandparents made me love his character from very early on in the book.
Luke’s love of books made his character even more relatable. The book has some beautiful bookish quotes. ‘That feeling when you turn the pages and the words spill out, taking you into a different world, inside the heads of characters and revealing amazing stories you never dreamt of…’
When Luke finds a letter and important items that cause him to question everything he knows of his heritage, he must ask himself when he will be ready to face the truth. He will question whether or not to share his findings with those who are in need of closure. This is the first historical fiction novel from an Australian wartime perspective that I have read. I have read novels that were from an international perspective prior to this one. I was interested to read of the war veterans’ perspectives and particularly interested to learn about perspex trench art. As an Australian growing up in a multicultural society, I have not personay encountered prejudices due to past horrors of war. I have, however, seen racial prejudice within the media and in the school yard. It is hopeful that one day people will all see each other as individuals, rather than creating barriers.
The Shack by the Bay has a meditative quality. I can’t say that I have made that comment about many fiction novels before. The novel is contemplative, reflective and considerate of the world around us. The Author shows the reader how to appreciate the ‘little things in life’ through the thoughtful ways of the protagonist. The novel has a slow pace, ‘the way that Luke, just like his dad, enjoys the simple things in life’ and is mindful of the natural world around him.
This novel is much more than a romance novel. It has the ability to remind us of what is important in life and provide insight into Australian history. I would not hesitate in recommending The Shack by the Bay.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ A five star read!!