Shanty by the Sea
by Kelli Pizarro
Published by Dragon Soul Press
Publication Date August 7, 2019
Genres: Christian Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: Massachusetts, New Hampshire Contemporary
Main Character Ages: 25-34
Written for: Adults
Scarlett Cooper’s goals in life up to this point have been simple enough: run The Little Latte coffee shop by day and finish a novel-in-the-making by night. When her creative writing juices dry up, she visits the local bookstore for inspiration and leaves with a flier promoting an upcoming writer’s retreat in Cape Cod.
When announced as a winner, Scarlett crosses the state line from New Hampshire into Massachusetts. What she doesn’t realize is the retreat is themed The Great Writers of History, and she has been selected to play the part of starving artist Charles Dickens.
Hilarity ensues as Scarlett dresses in costume and competes against two fellow writers playing the parts of Jane Austen and William Makepeace Thackeray, spends her nights in a tiny shack on a cliff overlooking the sea, and finds herself developing feelings for a local man hired to tend to the retreat pet: a decrepit donkey named Janet.
Although things at the retreat don’t run as smoothly as Scarlett had hoped, and the competitive nature of the other writers tests her in a way reminiscent of Job who lost half his donkeys (one of which was probably named Janet), she learns that no amount of adversity is worth letting go of one’s dreams.
I would like to thank Kelli Pizzaro for giving me this copy of the book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
In all my reading, I’ve never read a story surrounding a writer’s retreat. In fact, I know almost nothing about writer’s retreats. The concept behind Shanty by the Sea fascinated me and I was more than happy to give it a read. The workings of this writer’s retreat are quite unusual – I imagine no one has ever been to one quite like it!
As you’ll see if you read the sample, the writing style is slightly snarky and engaging. Several situations were over-the-top quirky, such as the turkey at the family Canadian Thanksgiving celebration.
I really enjoyed the description of the castle she visited and would love to go there myself!
While the other two ladies at the retreat were not kind, Scarlett’s reaction to them seemed immature. Yes, I did understand her response at the final dinner, just not as much before that event. I also didn’t see why the others didn’t like her and behaved as they did.
There are a handful of references to church and Christianity but not so many for this to fall in the Christian fiction category. In case this would be a concern to you, I will also mention that there is at least one use of a mild swear word and a reference to drinking wine.
Overall, it was a fun story.