- Book: Island in the Sun
- Location: Caribbean
- Author: Janice Horton
Katherine Rocha has passed away. Isla is her estranged niece who is surprised one day when she is contacted about her Aunt’s death. As her only living relative a significant legacy awaits her in the Eastern Caribbean, on Pearl Island, where Katherine – Kate – had made her home. It has also been Isla’s childhood home.
Contact was broken because of Isla’s teenage liaison with Leo, a rough diamond who was deemed unsuitable for her. They never had a chance to make a good ending, and so whilst she is now back on the island winding up her Aunt’s affairs, she will take the opportunity to find closure with him. After all, she has only come back to Pearl Island for a couple of days, just to cast her eye over her old home and to start the process of selling up. She is also there to collect the sumptuous jewellery due to her (including diamonds, emeralds and rubies that were equal to Elizabeth Taylor’s jewels), and then she would be returning to London, “…richer in every sense.”
But as she whiles away the hours on this beautiful Caribbean Island until her return to London, where she runs a very successful jewellery design business, she has exchanges with Leo that are quite unsettling. She discovers Kate’s old diaries, through which she begins to understand Kate’s very personal backstory. Indeed; what she discovers from those diaries impacts immensely on her own assumed history.
Kate certainly had an eye for her own selfish interests, a sad and lonely woman by the end who had riches beyond imagination but also a lot of loss in her life, including her husband Ernest, whose body had never been found. He was swept away at sea. Kate is not an altogether likeable character, what Kate wanted, Kate ultimately got. In the latter years, after Ernest’s death, she used to dress each evening in gowns bought for her by him, bedecked in jewels acquired in nefarious ways (by Ernest) and would spend much of the evening gazing across the ocean, cocktail in hand. She suffered from growing agoraphobia and couldn’t countenance leaving the island – her only venture into the wider world was to collect little Isla when both her parents died in a car accident.
Handsome Leo was Isla’s squeeze in teenage years on the island and although he is still on there, running a pearl farm, she is not sure about him. It looks like he may even be in a relationship with his assistant at the pearl farm. Yet there is still a magnetism between the two old lovers. Isla is determined now to sell everything lock, stock and barrel and return to London. But wait, whilst they all shelter in a cave from a tropical hurricane, there are further mysteries to be uncovered and she finds out more about Leo and Jack, his adoptive father (Leo is originally a sea gypsy, abandoned by his birth parents and rescued by Jack, a very romantic touch). Pirates, lost treasure, galleons, prison stays, drug cartels, fine jewellery, an exotic island, a hippie minister, death, hurricanes and more are all factors to make this a swashbuckling romance, full of adventure.
The author is so good at vivid descriptions and colourful storytelling, and the Eastern Caribbean (fictional Pearl Island (Isla de Las Perlas) is in the vicinity of the Cayman Islands) comes alive in her capable hands. The reader also learns quite a bit about the production of pearls and how quality is essential and how that can be achieved.
For me I think the story could have done with a little tightening and a little more editing on a few grammar issues which were a little irksome (and I don’t think a father in 1970s North Yorkshire would have said “gonna”, as in “What are you gonna do now, then?”…). But no matter, this is a good read if you feel like revelling in exciting and luxurious Caribbean island life.
Currently this is only available in digital.