Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Mel Keegan - Home from the Sea

It’s six years since Jim Fairley came west to manage The Raven, a sailors’ tavern on the English coast near Exmouth. For Jim, the inn is a combination of haven and prison, his home and his livelihood. But lately he’s worried he’ll never get out of there – never see the world, meet the kind of characters, enjoy the sort of adventures he hears of in tales told by the sailors and smugglers who drink at The Raven – because Jim has been lame for almost half his life, following an accident where he almost died.
The last thing he could have imagined was that adventure – mystery, romance and danger – would walk right up to his own door, seize him by the collar and haul him into a maelstrom of intrigue and peril.
In the fair weather between two storms which hit the coast just days apart in April, 1769, a wandering balladeer strolls up to the tavern, looking for his old shipmate. But old Charlie Chegwidden passed away years before, leaving handsome young Toby Trelane in deep trouble. As he and Jim swiftly become involved, Toby’s trouble becomes Jim’s.
An eight year old mystery explodes like a storm over the inn. Before Jim learns all the shocking secrets Toby Trelane has hidden for years, there’ll be deception and fear, struggle and blood, in a tense Gothic tale which spans the globe without ever leaving The Raven. For Jim and Toby, life will never be the same.

Comment: This book was a Christmas gift and shamefully only now I picked it up when it's almost time for the next Christmas. Sadly, many books wait a long time in the pile...
This is the story of Jim Fairley and how he dreams of adventures despite his lame leg and duty towards the tavern his father bought and that became his livelihood. Jim knows he can't just let everything go and how could he travel at will with his leg delaying him and causing him pain sometimes...but Jim dreams and wishes he weren't as lonely.
Toby Trelane is a balladeer and is looking for one of his old shipmates when he and Jim meet one night. Charlie, the man he looks for, has died and took his secrets with him. Toby stays because he wants to find something and he and Jim get close and involved at some point. But trouble follows Toby and what he shares with Jim makes everything go wrong in Jim's steady life. However, it also can bring a happiness Jim didn't imagine possible...
Overall I liked reading this book, I think it has the right atmosphere, the right tone, it's suggestive without being too explicit and in some parts the writing is perfect.
However, I had some problems with the characters and the plot, which wasn't always attractive to me.
The plot revolves around a treasure and what people can do to get it. The cast of characters is mostly related to the treasure hunt done by a group of sailors who've met in a ship, had their lives changed somehow and now it's time to split the treasure. Toby brings the other sailors with him, not directly, but they follow him. The characters related to this aren't people one would like to meet or know about. I understand the need to make them shady and mean and dangerous but because I couldn't empathize with them, I tended to skip the scenes where they showed up, which were mostly violent ones or where violence was described and I don't think the author did it in a way I could justify reading about it.
Some action scenes I disliked too because I find them boring and too detailed and I can't really be interested in them.
The plot was solved in a very violent way, again, and I really didn't care much for it as soon as I realized why and how certain things happened. The end seems loose but I guess one can justify the time it was set as the reason why some actions look unlikely.
The positive of this story is how the author wrote about a secluded place, isolated from other houses and place it near the ocean, described many rainy days so the atmosphere felt very real and I imagined nights filled with storms and rain and wind and that seemed something very well done.
I have to mention the cover, which I think adds so much value to the story because one can actually imagine Jim inside putting drinks in the counter while the wind and the dark sky make it so difficult to one step outside. In this, I think the author did well.
The story also has a sort of romance, nothing is too explicit but we get the point. I was looking for to see how the relationship between them would develop, perhaps along with some personal development but sincerely, the romance seemed too fast considering the guy's experiences and personalities and the HEA was too inconclusive. We are told how things could happen but we have to imagine and in this case I'd have liked some more closure.
Again, their personalities don't seem very explored. The author didn't focus on personal development and although we know things about them and why they act/live/think a certain way, it's still not done to the point where I need to see them happy, you know?
I think that the author started this wonderfully, I was expectant to see how things would happen but I can tell this is the author's style and it's not bent on character development or drive. I respect that but I wish we could see more of the relationship between the guys rather than the bad guys trying to hurt or betray them.
I might try to read something else by her in the future but it's not a priority.
Grade: 6/10

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