The Last Anniversary — An entertaining summer read by Liane Moriarty

Checking out my library books this week, I noticed someone returning The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty. You might recognise Moriarty’s name as the author of the novel behind the TV series Big Little Lies. Although it’s been a while since I last read any of her books, I remember enjoying The Husband’s Secret and Truly, Madly Guilty, both of which I previously reviewed on this blog.

The Last Anniversary is about a group of women whose lives, one way or another, are connected to the ‘Munro Baby Mystery’ — an incident that took place 70 years previously on Scribbly Gum island.

Two sisters, Rose and Connie Doughty, found an abandoned baby, whose parents, Alice and Jack Munro were renting a house on the island up to the day they disappeared, leaving a marble cake on the table and a half-finished crossword behind them.

Connie and Rose named the baby Enigma and decided to raise her as their own, subsequently developing a tourism business around the Munro baby mystery. Enigma, her daughter Margie, and grand-daughter Grace all join them in the venture, hosting tours of the Munro mystery house and organising an annual festival to mark the anniversary of the scandal.

Family relationships and secrets are at the heart of this novel which has likeable characters, a decent story line and some good twists, particularly towards the end. Perfect for an easy summer read.

Mystery and Romance in The Liar by Nora Roberts

Although Nora Roberts (who also writes under the pseudonym JD Robb) is a best-selling author of more than 200 novels, I hadn’t read any of her work before The Liar. And, while mystery romances are not my usual genre, I have to say that I enjoyed this easy, pacy read.

The story begins about 2 months after gutsy heroine Shelby’s husband has disappeared. Shelby is left high and dry with a mountain of debt. Before long she is faced with the stark realisation that her erstwhile husband was a liar. Worse still, his nefarious activities could jeopardise Shelby and her daughter’s future.

When Shelby sets out to repay the debt, she uncovers more details of her former husband’s life.  The trail that he has left places her  in considerable danger. Luckily, she has a strong and supportive family. And, when she returns to her childhood home, it’s not long before love comes knocking at her door.

But despite the goodwill of the handsome Griff and her family connections, Shelby is determined to solve her own problems. She is resourceful and capable and which makes her a likeable and engaging heroine.

The Liar is a fast and satisfying read and should appeal to anyone who likes a strong story line with a bit of romance along the way.

[Disclosure: An advance copy was made available by the publisher via Netgalley for the purpose of this review.]

‘Bittersweet’ summer read by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

In Bittersweet, Miranda Beverly-Whittemore has created a novel based on the age-old theme of a stranger in paradise. Mabel Dagmar is an ordinary girl from a working class background. Her college roommate, Ev Winslow, invites Mabel to spend the summer on her family’s Vermont estate.  It seems like a dream come true. Mabel longs to experience the privileged world of her wealthy roommate almost as much as she wants to escape a summer with her own parents. So, they head to Bittersweet, a cottage on the estate.

Dark intrigue

Armed with a copy of Milton’s Paradise Lost which she plans to read over the holiday period, Mabel seems set for an idyllic summer. She quickly falls in love with the privileged world of the Winslows but she is an outsider in their paradise. Before long, it seems everyone wants to use Mabel for their own ends.Spurred on by curiosity about her host family, Mabel is drawn into a web of dark intrigue. The secrets she uncovers have devastating consequences.

Overall, I found Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore a good yarn and an enjoyable holiday read.

[Disclosure: An Advance Readers’ Copy (ARC) was provided by the publisher, Random House via Edelweis/Above the Treeline for the purpose of this review.]