It’s my great pleasure to be on the blog tour today for Island of Secrets by Rachel Rhys. Many thanks to Anne Cater for my invite onto the tour.
1957: Iris Bailey is bored to death of working in the typing pool and living with her parents in Hemel Hempstead. A gifted portraitist with a talent for sketching party guests, she dreams of becoming an artist. So she can’t believe her luck when socialite Nell Hardman invites her to Havana to draw at the wedding of her Hollywood director father.
Far from home, she quickly realizes the cocktails, tropical scents and azure skies mask a darker reality. As Cuba teeters on the edge of revolution and Iris’s heart melts for troubled photographer Joe, she discovers someone in the charismatic Hardman family is hiding a terrible secret. Can she uncover the ugly truth behind the glamour and the dazzle before all their lives are torn apart?
I have adored every book that one of my favourite psychological thriller authors Tammy Cohen has written under her pen name of Rachel Rhys. But I have to say that Island of Secrets is my favourite so far. It’s a beautifully written book filled with richly rounded characters and set in a place that I have always been desperate to visit. And one day I will get to Havana and have a Cuban experience of my own-hopefully though it will be one not filled with the drama experienced by Iris Bailey, the courageous heroine who travels miles away from home and out out of her comfort zone.
For a young girl working in a typing pool in 1957 a trip to Havana is a welcome escape from the boring routines of home and work. Iris has a gift and is a talented portrait artist who can capture the deeply hidden secrets of her subjects in her studies. So when she’s invited to attend a high profile celebrity wedding as their portraitist she sweeps aside all protestations from her family and fiancé and sets off to travel alone to Cuba. And there she becomes involved with a cast of characters who are very far removed from those she is used to at home and begins to uncover their shocking secrets…of which there are plenty!
There is a lushness to this book that had me imagining that I was there in 1950s Havana alongside Iris. The descriptive writing delivers a richly detailed scenic backdrop to the wedding whilst political unease starts to overtakes the stunning landscape, overriding the “happy” nuptials. I too became completely immersed in the cultural climate that enveloped Iris and I found myself gripped by the toxic relationships between some of the (often unlikeable) characters that seemed to be adversely affected by their surroundings.
I loved this book and lost myself totally in its beauty. Rachel Rhys writes like a dream and I have to say that I now prefer this genre from her! Island of Secrets is a wonderfully evocative trip to Havana, a haunting and powerful storyline with a strong minded and likeable heroine. Highly recommended!
RACHEL RHYS is the pen-name of a much-loved psychological suspense author. She is the author of the Richard and Judy bookclub pick, Dangerous Crossing and the bestselling A Fatal Inheritance.Her latest novel is the immersive Island of Secrets. Rachel Rhys lives in North London with her family.