It’s no secret that I love Heidi Swain, both as a person and as a writer, so it will come as no surprise that although I said I wouldn’t have time to read for review to participate in Heidi’s blog tour for The Secret Seaside Escape, and she kindly provided a smashing guest post for me all about where she would like to escape to, I simply couldn’t resist reading the book. Consequently I have my review of The Secret Seaside Escape for you too today!
Heidi is a regular visitor to Linda’s Book Bag and you’ll find other posts as follows:
My review of Poppy’s Recipe for Life here.
My review of Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market here.
A ‘staying in’ post with Heidi to chat all about Sunshine and Sweet Peas In Nightingale Square here.
A guest post from Heidi Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland, explaining exactly what Christmas means to her here.
Heidi’s latest book, The Secret Seaside Escape is published by Simon and Schuster and is available for purchase through the links here.
The Secret Seaside Escape
Following a shocking revelation within her family, Tess Tyler is looking to escape her hectic city life – and where better to hide than Wynmouth, the seaside town she visited as a child, with its sandy beaches, stunning rock pools and welcoming community. But little does she realise, Wynmouth isn’t quite the haven she remembers it to be, and her real life is still threatening to catch up with her . . .
Also returning to Wynmouth is Joe. Having fled over a decade ago after an accident that changed his life forever, he’s back and is determined to face his demons. But, like Tess, Joe realises that the town is nothing like he remembers and quickly his arrival brings old tensions to the surface.
As the pair begin to familiarise themselves with the town they once knew, they each realise that the secrets they carry are becoming harder to conceal – but will revealing them bring the answers they’re looking for? Will Tess and her new friends finally get the second chance they’ve been hoping Wynmouth will give them?
The three places I would like to visit when the lockdown is over…
A Guest Post by Heidi Swain
Hello Linda! Thank you so much for hosting The Secret Seaside Escape blog tour today and for inviting me to share three places I would like to visit when the lockdown in finally over. Obviously, I have many more than three destinations on my list, but I’ve managed to narrow it down and I’m sharing those that I’m craving the most.
As you all know, I write two titles a year for Simon and Schuster – a summer and a Christmas book – and that means it can be tricky trying to squeeze in time off. I haven’t had a holiday since 2016 and so earlier in the year, I promised myself that when the first draft of Book 11 was submitted, and before The Secret Seaside Escape was published, I would treat myself to a few days away. Needless, to say I haven’t been able to keep that promise, but I will definitely be heading there, later in the year. So where was I dreaming of?
Tess Tyler takes herself off to the Norfolk coast in The Secret Seaside Escape and that was where I’d set my sights on too. There are many beautiful coastal spots in Norfolk and a firm favourite of mine is Wells Next the Sea. It has everything you could wish for in a seaside resort – a beautiful beach, a pretty harbour, woodland walks, seals, birds, fabulous food and wonderful places to stay. I’ve been visiting since I was a child and have very happy memories of the place. There are special spots in both the town and nearer the beach which were firmly fixed in my mind when I was creating wonderful Wynmouth and I can’t wait to go back and see them again. The thought of eating fish and chips while sitting on the harbour wall is very appealing right now!
Next on my list is a trip back to the woods. Every week my son and I head to our local patch and take a walk through the trees and along the river. We take our time, listening to the birds, watching the squirrels and admiring the changing seasons. This year we are going to have a huge gap in our local patch observations. The snowdrops were barely over the last time we were able to visit and now the birds are busy nest building. We’re compensating with extra time in the garden, but it’s not quite the same. I’m very much looking forward to seeing our favourite mighty oak and beech friends again.
Last on my list, but by no means least, is my home city of Norwich. Please don’t read this and roll your eyes and say ‘she had the whole world to choose from and she’s picked places within a fifty-mile radius!’ because I know I have and I’ll tell you why. The reason why I’ve stayed so close to home is because this lockdown has made me very aware of how much I take my freedom for granted. It turns out, the places I love most are nearby and the things I love doing are the simplest pleasures.
Right now, a run into Norwich for Bubble Tea with my daughter, a lunch with my RNA Chapter chums, a wander around the majestic castle and calm cathedral all sound like heaven to me and I can’t wait to visit them again. And don’t even get me started on the quirky shops in the cobbled Lanes or the packed shelves in the Millennium library!
I bet you all have places you can’t wait to visit again too, don’t you? Do let me know where they are and why you’re missing them. I’d love to know. And in the meantime, stay safe and stay at home my darlings – take a fictional trip to Wynmouth with me and we’ll all escape to the seaside together.
Thank you so much Heidi. I think we’re all looking forward to escaping when we can. I loved heading off to Wynmouth and here’s my review:
My Review of The Secret Seaside Escape
Tess is running away.
Heidi Swain’s The Secret Seaside Escape is pure happiness and sunshine in book form. I adored heading off to Wynmouth and being transported to the Norfolk coast. There’s such a glorious sense of place in Heidi Swain’s descriptions so that I felt I was walking around the village and on the beach with Tess. I thoroughly appreciated the fact that there are vagaries of weather that lend a realism alongside the escapism too. Tess is just as likely to be blown about by a squall as have her freckles deepen in the sunshine so that the story has an underlying credibility.
And what a story there is in The Secret Seaside Escape. We might well be expecting a happy ever after ending from this genre, but my goodness there’s quite a journey to get there with exploration of some weighty themes and a plot that romps along with several surprises along the way. There’s a characteristic sense of community that this author always explores so well, but there is the added piquancy of a turbulent past for Wynmouth villagers too, that intrigues and enthralls completely. I was desperate to get to the bottom of the dynamics between Joe and Sam so that it actually felt as if I were Tess, rather than reading about her. These were real people I cared about, not characters in a book. Tess in particular appealed to me. She embodies the modern successful woman and still has flaws and desires that make her utterly compelling. I finished reading The Secret Seaside Escape feeling as if I wanted to visit her in Wynmouth because she felt like an old friend.
Heidi Swain explores so beautifully, and somehow completely naturally, the real values of life in The Secret Seaside Escape too. Top of the range cars and money can’t buy happiness and Tess and Hope both have to learn that they cannot always control life or have the outcomes they want for themselves and others. Love, family and other relationships, the impact of over-work, loyalty, friendship, secrets and community form a fascinating backdrop that held me spell bound. The more I’ve thought about The Secret Seaside Escape since I finished it, the more I think it might just be Heidi Swain’s best book yet!
When it comes to feel good fiction, Heidi Swain is an absolute expert. She makes her readers laugh, and cry, and leaves them feeling they have had the highest quality entertainment along the way. The Secret Seaside Escape is an utter joy and I loved it.
About Heidi Swain
Heidi Swain is the Sunday Times bestselling author of several novels including The Cherry Tree Cafe, Summer at Skylark Farm, Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market, Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage, Poppy’s Recipe for Life, Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair, The Christmas Wish List and of course, The Secret Seaside Escape. She lives in Norfolk with her husband and two teenage children.