Recently divorced Penny Sturdevant, unhappy with her life, has returned from a trip, and not ready to return home just yet, finds herself driving aimlessly around the countryside, eventually stumbling upon a bookshop tucked away in the back of beyond. She meets the man she believes is the owner – the enigmatic poet, Lyle Chilton. There is an instant attraction.
Their relationship begins in secret, as Lyle insists on complete secrecy; he will explain why when the time is right, he tells her. Penny finds him an odd character, sometimes soft and loving, other times cruel and demanding, but she cannot resist him and finds herself returning again and again to his shop and the flat he lives in beneath the property. The secrecy of their affair is exciting and pushes all her doubts aside. The story is told from Penny’s point of view and builds slowly. Some books you read start slowly, never seem to go anywhere, and eventually become boring, but in this book, you find yourself trying to anticipate what comes next.
I found the book intriguing because I could never guess where the story was going. There was something about the character of Lyle Chilton that made me uneasy, who was he really? Was something awful going to happen to Penny? Then suddenly we find out what Lyle’s shocking secret is and why he had to hide it from her. The story then takes us on a totally different journey. One you just couldn’t have guessed at. I just wanted to keep reading.
I would have given this book 5* except for the poetry. This is just a personal comment, and I feel sure other readers will enjoy it, but I found myself skipping those parts. I understand why it was included, Lyle was a poet and Penny was entranced by his use of words, but for me I felt it interrupted the story.