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The Inn at Half Moon Bay    by Diane Tyrrel order for
Inn at Half Moon Bay
by Diane Tyrrel
Order:  USA  Can
Berkley, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

Kelly Redvers is looking for a place to call her own. She wants to run an inn, and has a certain image in mind. She wants a place that's elegant and high-class, with a certain fancy appeal. The Magic Mermaid inn, with its rustic cottages and a motel 'painted a shade of pink something between salmon and flamingo, with faded turquoise accents, doors, and shutters,' doesn't fit the bill. But despite her misgivings, the current owners, along with the overall charm of the inn and its breathtaking view of the sea quickly win Kelly over.

From the beginning, Kelly knows there's more to the history of the inn than what those familiar with the place are telling her. There are rumors of disappearing women, stories no one wants to either confirm or deny. The regular guests seem to have secrets of their own, and Kelly quickly finds herself in the midst of romantic intrigue when she becomes involved with Eli Larson, a billionaire entrepreneur and somewhat of a celebrity, who also happens to be engaged. As she struggles with the difficult tasks of learning to run an inn and dealing with her feelings for Eli, Kelly also finds herself the target of mean-spirited pranks. But are the pranks simply someone's way of making Kelly feel unwelcome, or are they a sign of something more dangerous? And why, when she can have Eli, does she keep thinking about Nick McClure, a mere handyman who aggravates her more than anyone she's ever known?

In The Inn at Half Moon Bay, Tyrrel pens a breathtaking gothic romance. Using every aspect of the genre that fans have come to expect - from the captivating setting of a bluff overlooking the sea to the mysterious undertones that surround every character - the author takes the classic formula of the typical gothic romance and makes it her own. By giving Kelly not just one, but two possible love interests, Tyrrel brings another level of intrigue to an already enchanting story. Eli and Nick are as different as night and day. They're both strong and independent, and it's easy to see why Kelly is so drawn to them, and so torn between them. The constant inner turmoil Kelly must battle as she tries to sort out her feelings mirrors the events happening around her. As things seem to spiral out of control, her own longings and uncertainties only serve to heighten the conflict.

The secondary characters are as well crafted as Kelly herself. Since the novel is written in the first person point of view, we see everyone else through Kelly's eyes, and we share her uneasiness along with her biases when things take a turn for the worse. A wonderful, solid read from beginning to end, The Inn at Half Moon Bay is impossible to put down.

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