Some summer novels have it all… a stunning location, a romance that simmers and shimmers, oodles of glamour, and a seductive air of mystery.
If you haven’t yet found that perfect getaway companion, then cuddle up close with The Greek Escape, a scrumptious sunshine scorcher from former fashion journalist Karen Swan, the queen of beach reads who knows how to put razzle-dazzle into the long days of summer.
Swan, author of delicious novels like The Paris Secret and The Rome Affair, is at her storytelling best in this wickedly entertaining and intriguing tale of high-flying Chloe Marston, struggling to make other people’s lives run perfectly just as her own seems to be tipping upside down.
Weaving between Manhattan’s skyscrapers, European hotspots and the almost impossibly romantic Hydra, a tiny Greek Saronic island nestling in the crystal waters of the Aegean Sea, The Greek Escape is a thrill ride from its mysterious opener to the final, fulfilling chapter.
After the heartache of breaking up with her boyfriend Tom, Chloe Marston left behind her old life in London five months ago for a fresh start in New York. And now she is relishing her job at Invicta, a luxury concierge company which offers a bespoke facilitation services to rich and often demanding clients.
VIP clients are in the capable hands of Poppy Langham but when she is critically injured in a hit-and-run accident, Chloe is forced to step into her role, getting up close and personal with the company’s most esteemed members who make bizarre requests like finding 30 penguins for a black-tie party, and arranging a motorbike ride down Big Sur with Tom Cruise.
Charismatic Joe Lincoln, boss of an engineering company, is her newest client and his every wish is her command, so when he asks her to find him a secluded holiday home in the Greek islands, she sets about sourcing the perfect retreat.
But when her ex-boyfriend Tom unexpectedly shows up in Manhattan and the stability of her new life is thrown off balance again, she jumps at the chance to help Joe inspect a holiday house on Hydra because escaping to Greece will give her the time and space to decide where her future truly lies.
Tom is the man she has loved for so long but he has hurt her before. Should she give him another chance… and does she really want to? Because as she draws closer to Joe, she knows there is an undeniable chemistry between them that she can’t resist.
But as magnetic as he is mysterious, Joe might not be all he seems. Another client’s wife has disappeared and serious allegations about Joe are threatening more than just her happiness. Who can Chloe trust and will she uncover the truth in time?
Swan’s novels always deliver more than just a shiny façade with an ultra-soft centre, and The Greek Escape is no exception. There is a glint of hard edge in this cleverly crafted story, a tantalising tale of love, loss and self-revelation punctuated by the author’s joyful brand of comedy… and moments of pure menace.
As always, the cast of characters are pure magic… the good, the bad and the downright hilarious all wending their various ways through a plot brimming with drama, scandal, romance, suspense and plenty of unexpected twists and turns.
Star billing is, of course, the beautiful island of Hydra, a place of sunshine and olive groves that inspired Swan to write the book… and a dream destination for those looking for their own reading escape.
(Pan, paperback, £7.99)