Book Review: Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay by Ali McNamara

A big lovely hello to Ali McNamara and the blog tour for her latest novel, Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay. 


Amelia is a single mother, doing her very best to look after her young son, Charlie – but money is tight and times are tough. When she first hears that she is the last descendent of the Chesterford family and that she has inherited a Real-Life Castle by the sea, Amelia can’t quite believe her ears. But it’s true!

She soon finds that owning a castle isn’t quite the ticket to sorting out her money problems that she’d first hoped: she can’t sell, because the terms of the ancient bequest state that any Chesterford who inherits the castle, must live there and work towards the upkeep and maintenance of the family home. So ever-practical Amelia decides to uproot her little family and move to this magnificent castle by the sea.

Living in a castle on the beautiful Northumberland coast is fun at first, but organising the day-to-day running is a lot more complicated than Amelia first imagined. Luckily she has help from the small band of eccentric and unconventional staff that are already employed there – and a mysterious unseen hand that often gives her a push in the right direction just when she needs it most. It’s only when she meets Tom, a furniture restorer who comes to the castle to help repair some antique furniture, that Amelia realises she might get the fairy-tale ending that she and Charlie truly deserve…


Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay focuses on Amelia. She’s a single mother who is trying to do the best for her young son, Charlie.

When she is told that she’s the last descendant of the Chesterford family and has inherited a castle, she doesn’t believe it at first. With a little convincing, she and Charlie arrive in Northumberland where most people are very friendly.

As she begins to make changes, strange things begin to happen, secrets are revealed and rumours about the castle being haunted may not be lies after all.

Ali McNamara is one of those authors for me. Whenever a new book of hers gets released, I read. Simple.

I pretty much devoured this book over a day. The story, the characters, the setting. It was all great; even grumpy Arthur.

I am totally in love with the cover and the title just makes me smile.

Amelia was easy to love from the beginning. I could tell straight away that she was strong and determined to do whatever was needed. She had been dealt some tough times in her life but was still trying to stay positive for her son. She felt such a realistic character for me.

Benji, who I wanted to just hug, Arthur, Dorothy, Joey and Tiffany made a brilliant supporting character team. Tom sounds so lovely too. Aww, Tom. Sigh.

The plot moved at a good pace for me. It was engaging, involved a mystery which I am always a fan of, and ghostly goings on. It had me believing that there could be such things as ghosts.

I could picture myself at this castle. The atmosphere this book creates felt so vivid and I was as intrigued as Amelia as to what would be revealed. I am fascinated by old buildings so the historic aspect appealed to me even though it is a fictional history. I love the idea that everything has a story to tell.

I didn’t want it to end. I have such a book hangover. The seemingly effortless writing style is the type I aspire to write. Maybe someday.

This book has wonderful characters, love, friendships, ghosts, a magical setting and an intriguing story that had me continuously turning the page. It would be perfect for afternoons in the sunshine or for that holiday read. I loved it.

If you like Cecelia Ahern and Giovanna Fletcher, you’d love Ali McNamara.


About Ali: 

Ali McNamara is a writer and author of ten novels.

The latest of which, Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay will be published by Sphere on 27th June 2019. Click to view on Amazon UK

Her debut, From Notting Hill with Love…Actually, the first of three ‘Notting Hill’ books, became an instant bestseller.

Ali lives in Cambridgeshire with her family and her beloved Labrador dogs. When she isn’t writing, she likes to travel, read and people watch, more often than not accompanied by a good cup of coffee!
Her dogs, and a love of exercise keep her sane!

To find out more about Ali, visit her website: or say hi on Twitter: @AliMcNamara


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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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