So the idea of Catherine Morland’s Reading List all came from this book.
The Inn at Half Moon Bay: A Gothic Novel by Diane Tyrrel
I was shelving books in the library when this caught my eye, as I have been to Half Moon Bay. I then looked at the cover and back and was extremely intrigued by it. I thought to myself, this is something that Catherine Morland would love to read if she existed today (and was real-of course).
And such a shame I couldn’t review it on my blog,
But then I was hit with this idea of listing out books that Catherine Morland would be interested in!
So here we go-
Kelly Redvers is a redheaded beauty and engineer that has accomplished all she has wanted in her field and is looking to do something new.
The idea of becoming an innkeeper, has captured her fancy and she has begun looking for a place. When she first looks at the Magic Mermaid Inn, she’s not interested, but the longer she looks at the place, it gets into her heart and she has to have it.
“Sprawled across a bluff overlooking the sea, the Magic Mermaid Inn embodied the simplicity and ambiance of times past. Cozy and inviting, the Queen Anne farmhouse and its surrounding cottages enchanted Kelly Redvers into purchasing the property, in spite of her better judgement…”
Kelly moves down and begins taking over the Inn with help from Addie and Bill O’Malley, the former owners, who treat her like their long-lost daughter.
Kelly begins the usual innkeeper things, but then hears that a beautiful red-haired guest stayed at the inn in the past and disappeared…
She tries to fid out more, but it seems like each path is just a dead end.
Kelly also gets to know the hotel staff and regulars. For staff we have Anita and Arturo, housekeeping and chef, who are Mexican and tend to speak more Spanish than English. Anita draws Kelly’s interest as she seems to be hiding something. Kelly comes upon her and Nick McClure having a secret conversation and a lot of money changing hands. Anita also knows something about the missing girl, as she started out a guest but became a part of the housekeeping staff.
The other person on staff is Nick McClure the handyman. He is extremely annoying as he works slow, doesn’t listen to Kelly but does what he chooses, and disappears for days-not telling here where he is going or what he is doing.
Kelly hates him at first, but then becomes attracted to him as well. It turns out there is more to him than meets the eye as he is half Native American-his grandmother a medicine woman-the other half being English aristocracy. He also is a lead in the volunteer search-and-rescue team. Kelly wonders about having a relationship with him…but then discovers that he used to have a relationship with the girl who disappeared, Alicia St. Clair.
The guests involve all kinds of people from singles to families, young and old. One is Paula Watson, a divorced mother of two that comes A LOT! She says it is because she doesn’t have enough space at her apartment, but is she lying? She is also very interested in the missing girl, helping Kelly search for clues about her. Is it just curiosity or does she have some other “deeper” interests?
Paula sets out to win Nick, but on their big night she gets too drunk to be together, insisting that someone drugged her.
That’s not the only strange thing, the wineglass that Kelly gave to Paula was originally poured for her…
Another guest is Eli Larson-smart, handsome, a gazillionaire-but engaged. He insists its over and wants to be with Kelly, trying to engage in a relationship before he’s broken the one he currently is in.
Eli is over the top in huge romantic gifts, just showering money on Kelly and ruthless in getting what he wants. They do start a relationship, but Kelly starts to feel unsure about him. He was coming when the missing girl, Alicia, was there and she realizes she really doesn’t know that much about him, who he really is.
Grendel is a permanent guest, as he rents out one of the cottages. He is a doctor and works at a local clinic, using the laboratory for some experiments. He likes Kelly, but she just isn’t into him. Grendel becomes a good friend, giving her romantic advice, warning her about things she doesn’t know about Nick and Eli, and always assists her as he lives there. Can she trust him or is he lying about everything? He also was there when Alicia was, could he have been involved.
Then there are the couple that sold the Inn, Addie and Bill O’Malley. They used to have a red-haired daughter, but she passed away. When Alicia came, she reminded them so much of her daughter that they took her under their wing. Could Alicia have wanted nothing to do with them and one of them killed her? Is that why they are so interested in parenting Kelly? Are they really as harmless and sweet as they seem?
Then strange things start happening to Kelly. Someone breaks into her cottage multiple times, the wine is drugged, creepy notes are left, someone lives a note about a cryogenics lab, her clothes are gone through, weird/creepy gifts are sent to her, the power is cut, etc.-could it be one of those people? And what about Eli’s ex-fiancé? Could she be behind it?
Kelly is running out of time and better quickly figure out who to trust before she becomes the next victim.
So I was really excited about this mystery as it was gothic, spooky, and sounded great.
However, I very quickly became annoyed with the main character Kelly. She gets involved with Eli as he “plans to break up” with his girlfriend. Come on Kelly, get with it! He’s lying to you! And you know nothing about him other than he is rich and charming. You are smarter than that.
The other thing I had a problem with was her choices in men. I didn’t like Eli, Nick, or Grendel.
- Eli was obviously a lying cheater who wanted what he wanted sand could not be trusted-and it is “her fault” he wants to be with her while in a relationship because she is so “beautiful”. Eeyuck! Plus when she dumps him, he becomes a baby. Ugh!
- Nick was lazy, annoying, and a bit controlling. Plus he bets Kelly about whoever scores first gets dinner paid by the loser. Oh wow, what a prize this guy is. Yuck!
- Grendel was too involved and a bit of a busybody always watching and sticking his nose into Kelly’s buisness. He keeps telling her what to do about her romantic choices and its none of your business Grendel. Besides what kind of name is that? Who thought the monster Beowulf had to kill would be a great thing to name a child?
With men like these, I tell you who I would choose:
So I was really disappointed, and the only reason I kept reading was I needed to know the conclusion of the mystery.
Once we got past the triangle, and the jerky guys and were nearing the end I got really into it. It was really creepy and there was a great twist.
So most of the book was a dud, and there was no admirable romantic lead-the end was good but it wasn’t enough to save it. I’d give this book a hard pass.
For more books Catherine Morland would read, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List
For more Gothic Novels, go to Book Club Picks: Wuthering Heights
For more mysteries, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: Suitors and Sabotage