Beauty and the Reclusive Millionaire by Rachael Stewart
Catherine Wilde is a very famous actress, with a fantastic film about to premiere. She is en route to a Greek island for a month in which to pause and write a script – but that is not the only reason for choosing this particular island. This is a lovely romance novel providing a sunny alternative to winter blues. Set on an island with stunning views, in a converted farmhouse built into the landscape, the setting provides almost another character. This is a vibrant story of regrets and the problems of building a relationship after traumatic events. Catherine has her issues despite her attractiveness, and the man she is going to visit has more than a few problems despite his wealth. This is a novel of regrets and guilt, but also mutual attraction and more. I was pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this escapist treat.
When Catherine arrives on the island she tries to put aside some of the trapping of her celebrity by moving her own luggage and making the effort to relax. Apart from relaxing she is on a mission for her best friend Flo. Flo’s brother Alaric owns and lives on the island alone apart from two devoted members of staff. Every need and want is catered for, including wonderful home cooked food, expensive drinks and internet contact with the outside world. After all, Alaric has been living in his beautiful house for years while shunning the outside world. It emerges that he has physical scars on his face which have changed his appearance from one side, but far worse are the mental scars that have resulted in extreme survivor’s guilt. While he grew up with Catherine and knows much about her unhappy family background, he feels as separate from her and her Hollywood world as anyone else. Nevertheless the overwhelming attraction he feels for her causes him pain – and he does his chilly, autocratic best to avoid her, even though they are in the same large house. Catherine meanwhile is also greatly attracted to him, knowing something of his struggle to cope with the world, with memories of his protection of her as a teenager. Charged by her friend to extract him from his self imposed exile, she realises that she must try to break down the barriers that he has erected. Can a relationship really exist for more than more than a few stolen hours when there are so many memories and regrets in the way?
This is a lovely sunshine escapist read for all contemporary romance fans. The characters are well drawn and become real individuals from their first appearance, and their actions are completely consistent with their gradually emerging back stories. This book represents a light and well written escape from winter weather and real life, a dream-like tale of attraction against the odds. I recommend it as a great read for winter days and when the reader needs escape into a sunnier, different places.