HUSHED by Joanne Macgregor

“A great story and I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good fairy tale with a modern twist!”

I really enjoyed Joanne Macgregor’s first novel, Scarred (see my review here) so when I saw that she had a new book out, Hushed, I rushed to buy it.

As I may have mentioned, I’m a sucker for novels based on old fairy tales, and Hushed is a wonderful modern retelling of H C Anderson’s tale of The Little Mermaid. I have to admit I’ve never been keen on Mr Anderson’s mostly sad stories, much preferring the Brothers Grimm, but Ms Macgregor managed to use all the best parts, with much of the original details included, and in very fresh, inventive modern ways.  She has created a much happier tale, so I was thrilled.  The action also takes place in South Africa, not a setting I’ve encountered much before, so that was unusual and fascinating!

The blurb:-

Would you sacrifice your voice for love?

18-year old Romy Morgan desperately longs to escape the boring future her parents have planned for her, and explore the world.  When she saves her celebrity crush, superstar Logan Rush, from drowning, Romy is offered a job as his personal assistant. She strikes a deal to reinvent herself in exchange for entering the exciting world of the movies, and love sparks between her and this prince of Hollywood.  But Romy soon discovers that she’s traded her voice and identity for an illusion of freedom.  When she discovers a dreadful secret with the power to destroy Logan, she must choose between love, revenge and finding her own true element.

This story manages to combine all the emotion of falling in love for the first time and deciding on your future, while also dealing with some serious environmental issues. The heroine Romy has to figure out what she wants to do with her life and what it is that really matters – standing up for what you believe in or taking the easy option.  She’s the youngest of five sisters, and in her final year in high school (or the South African equivalent), and her parents have only two choices for her – to follow in her father’s footsteps and join his business, or follow her mother into the world of academia, researching marine biology. But Romy has her own dreams and doesn’t want either option.  So what to do?

She’s had a major crush on movie star Logan Rush for years, so when she gets a chance to see him up close, she jumps at it. However, in real life, he turns out to be very different from his on-screen persona and not quite the way she’d imagined.  But still very hot …

There is a feisty, fun grandmother figure in the story, who I really liked.  She had a chequered past on the stage and was a bit naughty, encouraging Romy to rebel and be independent, and to live a little, taking chances rather than staying on the safest course in life.  She sort of reminded me of my own grandmother, who occasionally came out with some very surprising advice for me!

I also loved the laid-back hero, Logan, an American actor with a delicious southern drawl, but he’s not just a handsome hunk, he has his own secrets and dreams. Only someone is preventing him from achieving his goals and he has to stand up to them or stay trapped forever in his gilded cage. The interaction between him and Romy is superb throughout, and the chemistry unmistakeable. He may not be a prince, but I certainly fell in love with him!

Towards the end of the story, the heroine gets involved in environmental issues and has some hair-raising moments fighting for a good cause.  I felt these were perhaps a little too detailed, but then I’m a big softie and don’t like to hear about sad things and I know it’s necessary for people to learn about it so that we can stop things like whaling.

A great story and I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good fairy tale with a modern twist!

Pia Fenton writes contemporary romantic YA stories and her Northbrooke High series features UK heroines clashing with US heroes in an American high school setting.  The fourth one in the series – New England Dreams is out now!

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