Review of ‘When the stars sang’ by Caren J. Werlinger.

Kathleen Halloran spent every summer of her childhood in her grandmother’s house in Little Sister, an isolated island in Maine, until her younger brother died in an accident there. Twenty five years later, after her grandmother died, she decides to move back permanently. But the islanders are a tight community and her arrival stirs old memories and distrust. Among them is Molly Cooper, the attractive part-time sheriff that is less than enthusiastic about the newcomer. But as they get to know each other, their attraction grows and Molly wonders if Kathleen’s past will make her bond with the island or take her away forever.

This is a very good novel by Ms. Werlinger with many different ingredients like drama, angst, humour and romance in a delicate balance. Written in third person from the point of view of both main characters Kathleen and Molly, the story unveils slowly ideal for taking all in.

Ms. Werlinger builds an interesting world in this small island. She takes her time describing how the islanders blend their Irish and native (First Ones) heritage, their mix of Paganism and Catholicism, a culture not attached to consumerism or property laws and very close to nature.

There are lots of secondary characters but Ms. Werlinger introduces them slowly and each with their own distinct personalities so it’s not a burden on the reader to recognise them. There are different types such as extroverts, introverts, mystic, caring, loyal, and even quirky, like in Robin Alexander’s books. There is also space for a very cute dog.

My only issue with this book is that I couldn’t feel the sexual intimacy between the main characters, they feel more like life companions, lacking passion. It doesn’t help that all sex scenes are fade to black. It’s a minor issue because this story isn’t solely a romance. Additionally, the villain characters, especially Kathleen’s parents, seem a bit stereotyped and the story could have gained from getting to know them better in their suffering. Having said that, this is a very enjoyable book for those who are looking to read a life story rather than a romance.

Overall, a very good book about life in a small and tight community. 4.5 stars.

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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