I am delighted to share my review today for The Island Swap by Samantha Tonge. This was a book I read at the beginning of August this year and it is one of the books I chose for the #20booksofsummer #readingchallenge and I am still playing catch-up on posting my reviews!
Let me show you what this wonderful book is all about…
Sometimes the best holidays are the ones you least expect…
After a long and turbulent year, Sarah is dreaming of the five-star getaway her sister has booked them on. White sands, cocktails, massages, the Caribbean is calling to them.
But the sisters turn up to tatty beaches, basic wooden shacks, a compost toilet and outdoor cold water showers. It turns out that at the last minute Amy decided a conservation project would be much more fun than a luxury resort.
So now Sarah’s battling mosquitos, trying to stomach fish soup and praying for a swift escape. Life on a desert island though isn’t all doom and gloom. They’re at one with nature, learning about each other and making new friends. And Sarah is distracted by the dishy, yet incredibly moody, island leader she’s sure is hiding a secret.
I have 2 or 3of this authors books and they seem to have slid down my TBR pile. When I decided that I wanted a more relaxing summery, romance style read it was this author that suddenly sprung to mind and I thought I really need to read one of her books.
Well, what an amazing book this was and I absolutely adored it. Amy and Sarah are sisters and after a lottery win, Amy decides to treat them both to a luxury holiday. Amy works as a veterinary nurse and Sarah has a management role in a hotel. Both are looking forward to getting away, although Sarah is a little worried about leaving all the arrangements to her younger sister. Expecting a resort with pools, spas, beaches and the full 5-star treatment only to discover that Amy has suddenly changed the plan. Instead, they are on a working holiday on a small island in the Virgin Islands, No spas, 5-star treatments or anything else she was expecting, instead, Sarah has to deal with compost toilets, mosquitoes, cold showers and physical work.
Yes, this story does has a romantic thread running but it is actually the relationship between the sisters that really intrigued me. Sarah is the eldest and has looked out for Amy since their mum passed away, effectively taking on the parenting role and guiding, advising and to be fair has been quite controlling. The reasons for this are revealed more within the story. Amy is lacking confidence but she more than makes up for in enthusiasm and passion for animals.
While the sisters are chalk and cheese, they also have a very strong bond. They have been looking out for each other for years. This trip to a remote island with absolutely no mod cons and basic amenities is right up to Amy’s street but not so much for Sarah.
The thing about this story is the way the author has woven the story of the sisters and their upbringing around the conservation aspects of the island. The author goes into detail about the inspiration behind the story a the end, but it is obvious that there has been research and fact-checking as there is a myriad of little snippets about the wold life, flora and fauna, food, ecology and environment. So many interesting facts add a wonderful additional ingredient.
A wonderful story that readers of contemporary fiction, friendship and family will really enjoy, as I said there is a romantic thread but it is a subtle slower one that really fits in with the feel of the characters. A fabulous read and one I would definitely recommend.
About the Author…
Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely.
When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines.
She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo and in 2020 her novel Knowing You won the RNA’s Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award.
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