Set in a seaside town in Tuscany and also in a village on the Devon coast, The House by the Sea by Santa Montefiore is a gorgeous and charming mystery with a distinctly holiday feel to it. In the 1960s in Italy, orphan girl Floriana and heir-to-a-fortune Dante share a blissful summer together – but Dante is about to leave Italy to study in America. Floriana vows to wait for him, because she knows that even though they come from wildly disparate classes, the chemistry between them can’t be denied.
40 years later in Devon, Marina and her husband Grey are proprietors of a struggling hotel on the Devon coast. They are running out of money, and of options, and are aware that their property would appear ripe for a takeover bid – which they want to avoid. Marina’s past may offer a solution but she is hesitant to follow that path, especially as she has never told Grey all of her history. In an attempt to attract more business, they sign up an artist-in-residence to bring in more tourists for the summer. Enter Rafa Santoro – handsome, muscular, foreign, and artistic. All eyes are attracted to Rafa and maybe this signals the chance for the hotel to regain its footing.
But Rafa has secrets of his own and when Grey’s son Jake finds him where he shouldn’t be, questions start to arise. For me, the most intriguing part of the story was trying to see where the two stories would meet – what does Floriana and Dante’s relationship have to do with the couple in Devon? Who is Rafa and why does he have letters in Italian in his luggage when he is from Argentina? This is one of those books that you won’t be able to put down and you’ll be hoping for wet weather so you can stay indoors to finish it!
Available now: Simon & Schuster RRP$29.99