Publication: 25th May 2020 (ebook); 25th June 2020 (paperback) – Transworld
1957: Iris Bailey is bored to death of working in the typing pool and living with her parents in Hemel Hempstead. A gifted portraitist with a talent for sketching party guests, she dreams of becoming an artist. So she can’t believe her luck when socialite Nell Hardman invites her to Havana to draw at the wedding of her Hollywood director father.
Far from home, she quickly realizes the cocktails, tropical scents and azure skies mask a darker reality. As Cuba teeters on the edge of revolution and Iris’s heart melts for troubled photographer Joe, she discovers someone in the charismatic Hardman family is hiding a terrible secret. Can she uncover the ugly truth behind the glamour and the dazzle before all their lives are torn apart?
Generally, I am not a huge fan of historical novels, but I can’t never resist Rachel Rhys’s novels (pen-name of suspense author Tammy Cohen) and her new book, Island of Secrets, was the perfect pick for me to spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon reading. Thanks to the author beautiful writing, I was instantly drawn to this wonderful and riveting story of glamour and secrets set in late 1950s Havana.
The protagonist of Island of Secrets is Iris Bailey, a young talented artist who looks and wishes for adventure and thrill in her life. Instead, she had to give up on art college classes and find a job as a typist in an office full of men who spend their time grading the women working there. Back at home, her parents want her to find a good man, settle down, and spend the rest of her life being a dutiful wife and a mother while her boyfriend enjoys belittling her and controlling her. So, when the daughter of a Hollywood mogul invites her to Cuba to take portraits of the guests invited to his third wedding, Iris jumps to the chance to change her life. However, when Iris arrives to Havana, the appealing lifestyle of the rich and famous is shadowed by complex family relations, secrets, and the mysterious death of the groom’s previous wife.
I really did enjoy Island of Secrets. The plot is captivating, suspenseful, and engaging, full of intrigue and glitz. Everything takes place in the hot, exotic, and beautiful setting of a Cuba about to change politically. Rachel Rhys wrote a fabulous story of corruption, gangsters, and spies, money, mystery, and romance that makes for a fantastic summer read.
A huge thank you to Transworld and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the novel.