Book Review: Tom Barry’s When the Siren Calls

February 6, 2013 4 out of 5, Contemporary Romance, review 1 ★★★★

Book Review: Tom Barry’s When the Siren CallsTitle: When the Siren Calls
Author: Tom Barry
Genre: Romantic Suspense
My Rating: four-stars
My Copy: Complimentary Copy won via LibraryThing
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis: Restless and neglected, Isobel is suffocating in a stagnant marriage. Suave and charismatic Jay is fighting for survival. An invitation to visit Jay's resort in the hills of Tuscany sparks Isobel to imagine a life of freedom and excitement.

Dismissing her husband’s objections, Isobel pursues Jay to Tuscany on the pretext of searching for a holiday home. After fighting anguished guilt, she abandons herself in a passionate affair, with her controlling lover encouraging Isobel to push beyond her sexual boundaries.

But all is not as it seems in the idyllic Tuscan retreat, and Isobel finds herself trapped in a web of intrigue, deception, and betrayal. She is one player in a dangerous love triangle, unsure whether Jay is her saviour, or her nemesis. As her world falls apart, she must choose between the woman she thought she was, and the woman she has become.

Isobel Roberts is a wealthy married woman, but her marriage is lacking passion. Her husband, Peter, is happy and satisfied when he’s on his laptop working. When the opportunity to travel to Marrakech is presented, Isobel happily accepts thinking she and Peter could use the holiday to rekindle their marriage, however; Isobel is left to wander the city alone. During one of her outings she’s saved by Jay Brooke. Isobel questions if Jay’s her savior or if she’s set herself up to another prey. The two are clearly attracted to each other, but nothing comes of it and Isobel quickly returns to her life in London. Months later Isobel and Jay come face to face during a real estate investment opportunity. This time there’s no denying the attraction and Isobel longs to be with him. Will she give in to the mutual attraction?

Barry does a great job taking the time to set up his characters. If readers have a difficult time associating with Isobel, I believe it has to do with her sexless marriage. I’m sure a lot of women will probably think an easy solution is divorce, but for some it’s not clear cut. Isobel is a woman who clearly loves her workaholic husband and she’s happy with him and the life they’ve made together. She doesn’t open up to her best friend, Maria, about her marriage. I think if she had confided in her, Isobel wouldn’t be in the situation she faces.

At times, it’s difficult to feel any empathy towards Jay especially when you’re confronted with his shady business dealings; all you want to do is run towards his potential investors and stop them from having anything to do with him. Then we have Lucy, a beautiful flight attendant who is looking to move up in the world. She’s convinced Jay’s her ticket to the lifestyle she covets, but is Jay willing to leave his family for her? Barry doesn’t go into extensive detail regarding Jay’s marriage with Rusty. As readers, we can’t decide if we like Rusty since she’s just mentioned in the background. The one scene where we do have the opportunity to show us what the Brooke marriage is like, we don’t get any in-depth characterization of Rusty. Is Jay telling Lucy the truth about his marriage being one of convenience? Or is just a common lie married men who cheat say? I’m hoping book 2, Saving Jay, will go into further detail about his marriage. Going back to Lucy, she’s easy to sympathize with. She gets, in my opinion, some terrible advice from a friend and sometimes men like Jay don’t like to be pushed. I wish she realized she was worth more and she shouldn’t settle being someone’s mistress.

There might be some confusion among readers as to why Barry sets up the different narratives and we go from one character’s life to another, but he does it for a reason. We need to know Isobel’s background and what she’s dealing with on a day to day basis. Although we get an insight to Jay’s life and his business deals, When the Siren Calls really is Isobel’s story. We need to understand Jay’s motives when it comes to his business and the best way to do that is for Barry to take us on a journey of his life while showing us what Isobel is going through. By doing this, we get a bigger picture at the implication of Isobel’s choices and what they mean in the end.

Tom Barry’s debut novel is an intriguing read. He leaves us with a cliffhanger and I can’t wait to read Saving Jay and find out what made Jay the man he is today.

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