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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Rachael Connor, outwardly successful and a budding author, seemed to have it all. An inheritance from her father had assured her financial stability and she was able to choose when she worked for wages and when she indulged in her one true passion, writing. In Sea Cliff: A Love Story by Mary Deal, we find that Rachael has a dark secret that rules her life, even now as an adult and long after her father has died. Rachael and her brother Brandon were brought up by a tyrannical and abusive father who ruled their lives with both physical and mental abuse that Rachael still carries to this day. She is unable to form lasting relationships with men as she simply doesn’t know how, and consequently has resigned herself to a life of solitude with writing and meditation as her solaces. Enter Matthew Knight, a successful, ridiculously handsome and well-adjusted man who sets his sights on winning Rachael’s heart. True love, though, rarely runs smoothly and both Matthew and Rachael have to overcome the many barriers that life and their pasts put in their way before they can truly find each other.
Sea Cliff: A Love Story is a simple, carefully crafted romance, but what lifts it above others in the genre is its willingness to address societal issues that might otherwise be glossed over. Author Mary Deal has imbued her character of Rachael with all the angst and fear a sufferer of an abusive childhood would feel. As readers, we want to take Rachael and shake her, telling her to “get with the programme.” She has a man who clearly adores her and yet she looks for and finds myriad ways to push him away. Although both of the main characters are too perfectly beautiful/handsome for my liking, there was no stopping me from enjoying the twists and turns their convoluted relationship took. The concept of combining the feelings and actions of the characters in this story with the characters in the story Rachael was writing had the potential to be trite and clichéd and yet Deal made it work well. The writing style is simple and unpretentious, which I did enjoy, and I found myself flying through this book. I can definitely recommend this story to lovers of romance.