The bit on the back…
A luxury Caribbean cruise. Warm, tropical days. Hot, sultry nights.
It’s ideal for romance but for sisters Britt and Mia McDonagh it’s something else entirely. Because Britt is the Aphrodite’s guest speaker, on board to talk about her bestselling novel The Perfect Man. She’s billed as the expert on love, but since the break-up of her ill-fated marriage she’s certain that the perfect man is just a myth.
Single mum Mia does believe in soul mates. Still secretly in love with her old flame, she’s barely aware of other men, no matter how perfect they might be. As the two very different sisters spend more time together than they have in years, there’s a danger that interfering in each other’s lives will push them apart for ever. Or can the Caribbean work its magic even on families?
Back home, the last thing either woman expects is to encounter that elusive perfect man at last. Yet the time has come to put the past where it belongs and finally risk everything to change the future.
This is the first of Sheila’s novels that I have read. It’s been on my book shelf for a while (benched due to getting my kindle) but every time I looked at the shelf this one kept catching my eye. I read through this in about 3 days, even taking it to the office to read at lunch time, after finding that I couldn’t put it down which is testament to how good it actually is.
The story follows Mia and Britt as they embark on a Valentine’s cruise in the Caribbean on the Aphrodite ship. Both of the sisters are very different to each other, both in their personalities and their stories. The characterisation is done well in that it is easy to relate to both of the characters and to empathise with their individual situations. I also found it quite easy to like all of the characters, especially Mia and Britt.
Mia is the romantic one out of the two, with a flame still burning for a past love. She’s a single mum and all her thoughts and actions must consider her daughter. Britt is a high flying divorce lawyer, known for landing big settlements for her clients. She became a novelist by mistake and now has to make her readers believe she buys the whole flowers and romance scene although she is adamant that romance is for the weak. Although Mia and Britt are the main characters there is also Leo, another single passenger aboard Aphrodite. Leo also has had misfortune when it comes to love and is dubious himself as to whether the perfect woman exists, never mind the perfect man.
The story is written in the 3rd person and is mainly told from Mia, Britt or Leo’s perspective. Each of these characters has a past. Sheila alludes to each one throughout the start of the book but doesn’t go into detail until later on. This adds a bit of mystery which I found was one of the reasons this was so un-put-downable as I always wanted to keep reading to find out what the full story was behind each character. Emotion flows through the book as these 3 single passengers on a Valentine cruise are reminded about their pasts and find themselves facing up to them.
The story flicks between present and past as each other characters recount their situations and each of them think about what difference doing things differently would have made. The three main characters become entwined throughout the story, helping each other to face up to the past and decide on their futures.
For the most part the story is told while the characters are on the cruise itself. This really appealed to me as I am going on a cruise this year and have also been before so I really enjoyed this setting. However it is also set in Dublin and Spain. Sheila’s detailed description of the settings in this story adds further to the story but also to the characters as the settings appear to back up each of their thoughts on romance, which is a big theme in this story, and their personalities.
Overall I really enjoyed this book from the start finding that I couldn’t put it down and was always eager to find out what the story behind each character was. I could never tell what was going to happen next which I also thought was good as in some stories it is evident who is going to end up with whom and so on but not in this one. I would also say this was a good holiday read due to its fabulous setting on board the ship.