Beneath The Water by Sarah Painter

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We’re all dying one minute at a time, it’s just some of us are more aware of it.

Stella Jackson has lived with serious health complications, recently having a successful surgery but still has lingering reminders, breathlessness, lack of energy. Lucky to be healing and alive, she isn’t as lucky in love. Her beloved fiance and long time friend Ben has broken her heart, the only thing left for her to do is leave London. She decides to retreat to Scotland with her dear friends Caitlin and Rob, licking her wounds. She hasn’t much enthusiasm for anything, still trying to adjust to her loss but Caitlin decides to push her friend into a job.

When Stella begins working at Munro House for its master Jamie Munro, she wonders at his eccentric behaviors. The locals think he is crazy, and she is shocked he failed to divulge there was a death before she took the job. When she finds letters by a Victorian wife who suffered her husband’s (Dr. James Lockheart) creepy ‘medical genius’ experiments, they seem eerily similar to Jamie’s own ‘research’. No stranger to the incredible advances of medicine and it’s benefits herself, she is still uneasy with his tests and plans. Certainly he is pushing himself too far, taking too many dangerous risks. The novel promises a curse, the old letters reveal a woman who declines after giving birth, but therein lies the mystery. Stella feels a tie to Jessie, despite the passage of time. Is there truly some curse or is it something more? Just what was her husband doing?

Jamie’s own parents accident is clouded by mystery and rumors. Just what did happen that ill-fated day? Why does Rob seem so angered by Jamie? Does the village really know what happened? Jamie seems to be as much in the dark about his family tragedy as Stella is, but what will he risk to uncover the truth of the tragedy?

I enjoyed the novel but the romance wasn’t very exciting. I also felt things were sort of skimmed over, such as Jamie’s parent’s antics, etc. It just didn’t feel personal enough to me as a reader. Stella needed to be a lot angrier about many things, I kept wanting some fire out of her. Ben is thrown in here and there and that seemed pointless, I don’t know, I could have done without him showing his face at all later in the novel. I think I just wanted Stella to have more life to her, react like another woman would maybe? I was expecting a gothic curse, something more malevolent. All in all it was a decent novel, I think I was expecting something darker though.

Publication Date: February 8, 2018

Lake Union Publishing

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