Shadows on the Water – what a perfect title for this poignant story, which looks at love and loss, but with a couple of wonderful twists that give it a definite thriller edge. We are immediately sympathetic to the central character, Ava. We open with a beautiful, teasingly sensual exchange between two people obviously very much in love, Ava and Gavin. Then comes a tragic ‘accident’ and Ava’s dreams of a happily-ever-after with her fiancé are shattered. Unable to accept that Gavin, a personal trainer and a strong swimmer, died in the way it’s assumed he did, she is broken. Surrounded by supportive family and friends, she pours herself into her work, combining managing a holiday rental company while helping out with the family catering business, despite the family’s culinary gene having passed her by. Emotionally, she’s not ready for another relationship, but fate has other ideas. Cue the entrance of Alex. I have to say I adore Jo Lambert’s male leads, who are always just flawed enough to make them human. The wonderful strength of Jo Lambert’s writing is her characterisation. She brings to life real people with distinct voices and strong narrative and her books are always set against beautifully painted and well researched backdrops. Of course, once Ava dares to think there might be a future with Alex, a man who’d at first appeared arrogant, but turns out to be anything but, there are external forces at work, secrets that come back to haunt our protagonists, an antagonist who is determined that Ava belongs to him. The author ramps up the tension as the story grows darker, giving us a truly riveting read.
This is a story you can totally immerse yourself in, providing that all-essential ingredient we want from a book, escapism. The start of a trilogy which can be read as a standalone, Shadows on the Water is a book I would highly recommend.