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Munro House is the new start Stella needs. But it will also draw her back to a dark past… Devastated by a broken engagement, Stella Jackson leaves her old life behind for a new start in rural Scotland. But when she arrives in the remote coastal village of Arisaig, nothing is what she expected. At the edge of Arisaig sits Munro House; grand, imposing and said to be cursed by Munro House is the new start Stella needs. But it will also draw her back to a dark past… Devastated by a broken engagement, Stella Jackson leaves her old life behind for a new start in rural Scotland. But when she arrives in the remote coastal village of Arisaig, nothing is what she expected. At the edge of Arisaig sits Munro House; grand, imposing and said to be cursed by a string of tragic deaths. No less intriguing is its eccentric and handsome young owner, Jamie Munro, who hires Stella as his assistant while he pursues a seemingly impossible aim. Working through the great house’s archives, Stella soon finds herself drawn in by a cache of increasingly erratic letters from a young Victorian woman about her husband, Dr James Lockhart, a man whose single-minded ambition has strange parallels with Jamie’s. Just as Stella begins developing feelings for Jamie, she discovers that the connection between the Lockharts and the Munros could have sinister repercussions for them both. She’s finally found the life she wants to live—but is it all an illusion?


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Munro House is the new start Stella needs. But it will also draw her back to a dark past… Devastated by a broken engagement, Stella Jackson leaves her old life behind for a new start in rural Scotland. But when she arrives in the remote coastal village of Arisaig, nothing is what she expected. At the edge of Arisaig sits Munro House; grand, imposing and said to be cursed by Munro House is the new start Stella needs. But it will also draw her back to a dark past… Devastated by a broken engagement, Stella Jackson leaves her old life behind for a new start in rural Scotland. But when she arrives in the remote coastal village of Arisaig, nothing is what she expected. At the edge of Arisaig sits Munro House; grand, imposing and said to be cursed by a string of tragic deaths. No less intriguing is its eccentric and handsome young owner, Jamie Munro, who hires Stella as his assistant while he pursues a seemingly impossible aim. Working through the great house’s archives, Stella soon finds herself drawn in by a cache of increasingly erratic letters from a young Victorian woman about her husband, Dr James Lockhart, a man whose single-minded ambition has strange parallels with Jamie’s. Just as Stella begins developing feelings for Jamie, she discovers that the connection between the Lockharts and the Munros could have sinister repercussions for them both. She’s finally found the life she wants to live—but is it all an illusion?

30 review for Beneath the Water

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kendall

    Sigh....... this is what I get for having twitchy exciting fingers on Netgalley. Beneath the Water is a novel that definitely should STAY under the water. YIKES. I feel bad because I realize how much work writing a book is.... but this was a HOT MESS. I'm not sure where to begin with this review. Should I talk about wanting to poke my eyes out with boredom. I struggled multiple times trying to read this book. I should have DNF with this one. Stella is our main character that we are introduced to t Sigh....... this is what I get for having twitchy exciting fingers on Netgalley. Beneath the Water is a novel that definitely should STAY under the water. YIKES. I feel bad because I realize how much work writing a book is.... but this was a HOT MESS. I'm not sure where to begin with this review. Should I talk about wanting to poke my eyes out with boredom. I struggled multiple times trying to read this book. I should have DNF with this one. Stella is our main character that we are introduced to that travels to Arisaig to get away from her fiancé Ben who broke her heart. Stella has had numerous heart problems since she was a child (let's not forget to mention this a THOUSAND times people).... So, Stella gets a job as an assistant for Jamie Munroe. Jamie turns out to be a freak who takes ice bathes (yes ice bathes). ..and is obsessed with his health. I can't even grasp what genre this book was? Romance with a weird historical fiction aspect. I wasted my time on this one and am so SAD to keep having duds. I think I need to take a break from reading after this one. I promise I'm not THAT picky my friends. I just unfortunately keep finding the duds :(. I do not recommend this one at all. 1.75 stars. Thank you to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for an advanced arc in exchange for my honest review. Publication date: 2/8/18 Posted to GR: 1/27/18

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*

    EXCERPT: Downstairs, her second mug of coffee was on the low table in the living room, cold, and the television was playing, the sound muted. At once, Stella knew she couldn't stay in this house any longer. She had managed four months, had imagined that she had turned a corner, was on an even keel - and a million other trite phrases for the ability to get through the day without falling into a black hole - but the jacket had shattered that illusion. 'I am not okay,' Stella said to the table. The EXCERPT: Downstairs, her second mug of coffee was on the low table in the living room, cold, and the television was playing, the sound muted. At once, Stella knew she couldn't stay in this house any longer. She had managed four months, had imagined that she had turned a corner, was on an even keel - and a million other trite phrases for the ability to get through the day without falling into a black hole - but the jacket had shattered that illusion. 'I am not okay,' Stella said to the table. The words came out very quietly, almost a whisper. It was like a promise. I am not okay. I am not okay. THE BLURB: Munro House is the new start Stella needs. But it will also draw her back to a dark past… Devastated by a broken engagement, Stella Jackson leaves her old life behind for a new start in rural Scotland. But when she arrives in the remote coastal village of Arisaig, nothing is what she expected. At the edge of Arisaig sits Munro House; grand, imposing and said to be cursed by a string of tragic deaths. No less intriguing is its eccentric and handsome young owner, Jamie Munro, who hires Stella as his assistant while he pursues a seemingly impossible aim. Working through the great house’s archives, Stella soon finds herself drawn in by a cache of increasingly erratic letters from a young Victorian woman about her husband, Dr James Lockhart, a man whose single-minded ambition has strange parallels with Jamie’s. Just as Stella begins developing feelings for Jamie, she discovers that the connection between the Lockharts and the Munros could have sinister repercussions for them both. She’s finally found the life she wants to live—but is it all an illusion? MY THOUGHTS: I wasn't particularly enamoured with the first part of Beneath the Water by Sarah Painter. I wanted to shake Stella and tell her to get a grip. It took me until I was half way through the book to really come to grips with it, and then it gripped me. Told over two timelines, the current day and the 1840's, I at first failed to see the relevance of the letters from a young, frightened, newly married woman. But it is worth persevering, all becomes clear and several secrets are revealed. As you may have noted, I didn't particularly like Stella in the beginning. I thought she was wimpy and weak. But as the story progresses and Stella is forced to deal with a variety of situations, her strength of character is revealed. Jamie, Stella's new boss, at first comes across as 'superior' and, in my eyes, slightly unhinged. But as his character developed and the reasons for his behavior were revealed, he began to grow on me. The second part of the book was definitely superior to the first, in my humble opinion. It was full of suspense, surprises, and revelations, and I found it hard to put down. 3.5 stars from me for this romantic suspense mystery novel, Beneath the Water. Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Beneath the Water by Sarah Painter for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the 'about' page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my blog sandysbookaday.wordpress.com https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...

  3. 4 out of 5

    ❀⊱RoryReads⊰❀

    3 Stars. Review to follow. Although I enjoyed the first half or this book, but the second half didn't make much sense. The bad guy was a cardboard cutout of a bad guy. His grudge seemed ridiculous and his motives didn't add up as we're never given the full story. At the same time we're also handed the mystery of some old letters belonging to an ancestor of Stella's employer, written by a woman who's husband apparently caused her death. None of these mysteries are satisfactorily explained or revea 3 Stars. Review to follow. Although I enjoyed the first half or this book, but the second half didn't make much sense. The bad guy was a cardboard cutout of a bad guy. His grudge seemed ridiculous and his motives didn't add up as we're never given the full story. At the same time we're also handed the mystery of some old letters belonging to an ancestor of Stella's employer, written by a woman who's husband apparently caused her death. None of these mysteries are satisfactorily explained or revealed. It's a mystery that refuses to tell you how the past created the present problems except in the most superficial manner. There are too many loose ends. What really happened to Jack's parents the day they died? Did Dr. Lockhart kill his wife or was it just a bad heart? How could Stella be so dumb as to jump from one selfish jerk to another? This was an exercise in frustration.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karen KK

    I received this from netgalley.com in exchange for a review. Stella is starting a new life in rural Scotland. She finds a job at Munro House and is intrigued by her employer, Jamie. This book just never got going for me. There were too many loose threads at the end which made me feel like I wasted my time reading a mystery book that was really not much of a mystery. 2.75☆

  5. 4 out of 5

    Linda Hill

    A break up with her unfaithful boyfriend sees Stella running away to old university friends Rob and Caitlin in Scotland. I’m going to be totally honest and say that Beneath the Water is not a perfect book for me. There are times when I felt Stella would have been more confrontational or straightforward with Rob, Jamie and Caitlin, so that I did need to suspend my disbelief on occasion and I would have liked a more equitable balance between present and past events, giving the subplot greater statu A break up with her unfaithful boyfriend sees Stella running away to old university friends Rob and Caitlin in Scotland. I’m going to be totally honest and say that Beneath the Water is not a perfect book for me. There are times when I felt Stella would have been more confrontational or straightforward with Rob, Jamie and Caitlin, so that I did need to suspend my disbelief on occasion and I would have liked a more equitable balance between present and past events, giving the subplot greater status. However, that said, I think the fact that Beneath the Water is slightly off-kilter is actually a positive aspect as it reflects the ominous events and atmosphere surrounding Munro House. I thought Beneath the Water was a very entertaining read. It has elements of romance, crime, history and psychological thriller so that I really do think there is something for every reader between its pages. Although I felt sometimes characters might have behaved differently, there is no denying we can’t really know how we might respond until we’re in a similar situation. What Sarah Painter does so well in Beneath the Water is show how we never really fully know ourselves, never mind other people, and that makes for a very interesting read. I really enjoyed the exploration of science and how history and genetics can, or can be perceived to, affect present lives. Beneath the Water made me realise just how much we take for granted and expect from medical advances today with little or no regard for those who have put themselves through severe experiments for our benefit. I always enjoy a book that makes me think. Consequently, I’d have liked to hear even more about Jessie and the lives in the past as I thought those passages through Jessie’s letters were very creepy and menacing. I particularly enjoyed the evocative setting of highland Scotland. The plot of Beneath the Water is dramatic and entertaining. I could really see this narrative translating into an excellent television series, especially as Sarah Painter uses the weather and a very visual description of facial expression so effectively, so that actors could portray the characters easily. The relatively reduced number of characters also added to the claustrophobic and threatening undercurrents providing a very evocative effect. Beneath the Water is unusual, entertaining and actually very thought provoking. I found it intriguing and enjoyed it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

    Sarah Painter writes great books and this is no exception. What starts as a story about lost love and heartbreak turns into one about a mystery, discovering the past, friendship, love, secrets and danger. A great read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jenea

    The Munro House has been surrounded by rumors in the small town of Arisaig, with mysterious deaths over the decades to the strange families that have lived there. With a promise of eeriness and mystery, this certainly caught my attention. The story opens with Stella going through an awful breakup between her and her fiance Ben. The way things happened, I felt just awful for her too. She packs up some of her things, and goes to stay with a friend and her husband in a small town in the highlands of The Munro House has been surrounded by rumors in the small town of Arisaig, with mysterious deaths over the decades to the strange families that have lived there. With a promise of eeriness and mystery, this certainly caught my attention. The story opens with Stella going through an awful breakup between her and her fiance Ben. The way things happened, I felt just awful for her too. She packs up some of her things, and goes to stay with a friend and her husband in a small town in the highlands of Scotland to mend her broken heart. This is supposed to a fresh start for Stella, it starts out to be just that. She finds a job in the Munro Manor, assisting an aspiring author. Jamie Munro was very handsome, wealthy and kept to himself but he had this eccentric side to him to him too. He was quite strange and set in his ways, wants complete privacy. Overtime, Stella does learns events that happened in the very house she is living in, and begins to question some of Jamie’s actions. Stella was a woman that seemed to be smart and head strong, so when people start gossiping about her employer, she doesn’t pay it any mind. It’s a small town, maybe there’s not a lot to talk about. She does however figure out that Jaime is a little off, but her attraction grows for with each day. Upon learning what he was really doing frightened her, so she decides to help him with his extreme medical experiments. Jamie was a risk taker, I felt like the enjoyed the adrenaline that he got from the experiments.The experiments border lined dangerous, but to him they were for the greater good. But, there was more to the story, he was reading letters found while working on the archives sheds a little light on some events that really did happen here, but it always brings a mystery that they need to solve. There were some towns people who didn’t want the truth to be uncovered, so maybe the town talk wasn’t just gossip after all, because there was a little more sinister going on here. The setting of Munro Manor was gothic and eerie. The manor itself, the rooms to the ground was so easy to imagine. I would visit here, probably would have to check corners, and closets. Now, most reader when reading a thriller want fast pacing, and excitement, this however had a slower pace, allowing all the pieces of the puzzle to fall into place and it was quite suspense. I enjoyed it this way, it me time to digest all the little things that were discovered as well. It definitely made me want to keep reading to see what they learned right up until the last page. Beneath the Water had complex characters and unraveling them was just a great as the mystery the Munro Manor held. The story was a teeming tale of family secrets, mystery and a dash of romance. Definitely worth the read!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    3.5-4 stars Fast reading novel that takes a lot of twists and turns before you get to the last page! It’s dark, unexpected and a little romantic with a wonderful Scottish village atmosphere. I enjoyed the time spent with Stella and her friends. The characters are all a bit unusual, which adds interest the to storyline. Most of the plot threads are wrapped up by the end, and the others I guess are meant to decided by the reader. I will definitely read more by Sarah Painter! **Thanks to NetGalley, L 3.5-4 stars Fast reading novel that takes a lot of twists and turns before you get to the last page! It’s dark, unexpected and a little romantic with a wonderful Scottish village atmosphere. I enjoyed the time spent with Stella and her friends. The characters are all a bit unusual, which adds interest the to storyline. Most of the plot threads are wrapped up by the end, and the others I guess are meant to decided by the reader. I will definitely read more by Sarah Painter! **Thanks to NetGalley, Lake Union Publishers, and Sarah Painter for an ARC to read and honestly review**

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Burton

    When Stella leaves London for Scotland after a broken engagement, she's looking for a solace. But after she finds a bundle of old letters in her new employer's attic, she is thrown into a mystery and family secrets that go back over 100 years. I absolutely loved this book, a mix of mystery, romance and adventure, but I particularly loved the exploration of chronic illness and self control. Highly recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kathrin

    I received a free copy via NetGalley. When I first finished the book, I wasn't sure what kind of genre it was supposed to be in. It was a weird mix leading to an okayish read but ultimately, it didn't work for me. Reading the blurb for 'Beneath the Water' I expected foremost a mystery novel mixed with romance. Or some kind of historical novel thrown in there. It's the story of Stella who recently ended her engagement to her long-term boyfriend Ben. After not doing much for a couple of weeks and I received a free copy via NetGalley. When I first finished the book, I wasn't sure what kind of genre it was supposed to be in. It was a weird mix leading to an okayish read but ultimately, it didn't work for me. Reading the blurb for 'Beneath the Water' I expected foremost a mystery novel mixed with romance. Or some kind of historical novel thrown in there. It's the story of Stella who recently ended her engagement to her long-term boyfriend Ben. After not doing much for a couple of weeks and slowly losing grip on her life she decides to take up her friends invitation to visit them in rural Scotland. After the initial urge to leave her friends and move back to London, Stella decides to stay a little longer. One aspect of this decision is her new job at Munro House with its wacky owner and the small-town life that slowly grows on her. What can I say about the characters? Stella was not easy for me to relate to. Now, I understand that it's hard to lose all your life goals and just wake up one morning with nothing. I even can relate to the fact that you just want to leave all this behind and move to some other place. A small village, old friends - just some fresh air to get back on your feet. And this is where Stella lost me. During the course of the story, the reader learns that she was treated badly by her fiancé. And instead of taking some time off to focus on yourself and your goals, she takes up a new job (understandable, as we all need money) but lets her new boss treat her badly. Honestly, I don't think there's an excuse for this. This brings me to Jamie who, surprisingly, wasn't my biggest problem in the book. I couldn't stand him and the way he treated the people around him. I wonder, why they still cared deeply for him. I usually have a soft spot for writers in books but I couldn't warm up to him. (He also somehow reminded me of Will Traynor of 'Me Before You' - never a good thing). I don't want to say too much about Caitlin and Rob because I don't want to spoil the story but honestly, there are a lot of question marks when it comes to their relationship. Now the setting - I love stories set in Scotland. Another plus, those stories set in a small-town community usually draw me in. Although the book features both, I couldn't care less. Maybe because they hardly played a role. The story itself - I was looking for some dark mystery, some connection to the past that must be uncovered. What I got were letters written by someone I couldn't connect to the story thrown in my face right from the beginning. They were just there at the beginning of each chapter without any kind of effect on the story. By the time they become important I wasn't invested enough to care anymore. If I remember correctly, there was an interaction between the past and the present far into the second half of the book. The first half was spent setting up for the big showdown which wasn't really worth it. As for the big mystery - there hardly was any. The story literally presented the mysterious incident of the past and quickly solved it a couple of pages later. No guessing involved. And then the story just headed for the big showdown - out of nowhere and if you asked me for the flimsiest reasons possible. Needless to say, I was happy once the book finished but the ending did nothing for me. All in all, I was disappointed and annoyed by the characters. Maybe because it wasn't my cup of tea. 'Beneath the Water' was definitely not what I expected it to be and looking at the blurb, I believe it could be marketed better to a more suitable audience by stating more prominent facts about the story.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Yes! Castles, romance, and mystery! Sign me up. This didn’t disappoint and was just as good as I wanted it to be. Twisty and interesting - kept me hooked throughout the whole book. I loved the unexpected turns it took, definitely was not expecting any of it to happen.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susan Corcoran

    I would like to thank Lake Union Publishing, the author Sarah Painter and blog tour organiser Anne Cater for the ARC of Beneath The Water in return for an honest review. My favourite thing about this historical/contemporary mix was the way the connection was made between the past and the present, with each chapter starting with a letter from Jessie, a troubled Victorian women whose life reaches out into Stella Jackson’s present. The affect these letters have on current events, is what gives this I would like to thank Lake Union Publishing, the author Sarah Painter and blog tour organiser Anne Cater for the ARC of Beneath The Water in return for an honest review. My favourite thing about this historical/contemporary mix was the way the connection was made between the past and the present, with each chapter starting with a letter from Jessie, a troubled Victorian women whose life reaches out into Stella Jackson’s present. The affect these letters have on current events, is what gives this superb novel is addictive nature, keeping me awake to one thirty am, when my alarm clock was due to go off four and a bit hours later. I was gripped with a need to know what would become of the troubled Stella and the equally unpredictable Jamie Munro, while also worrying by the fate of Jessie. All the characters are beautifully drawn, flawed enough to make them fascinating and at the same time likeable enough to make you care about their fates. So much so that I find myself wishing that Sarah Painter would write a new novel delving into the fascinating story of Dr James Lockhart and his wife. I wanted to understand more about their lives and personalities. It is not an indication of a flaw in Beneath The Water, but that the writer writes about them so well, teasing you about their lives, that you just want to know more and you wish they had their own story. Both Stella and Jamie are superb leading characters, with the changeable and unpredictable Jamie being my favourite. Why? Because something just drew me to him. Probably the fact that it is rare to come across a male character whose mental health and troubled personality are front and centre of a storyline. The edgy atmosphere which is depicted so well in this novel contributes to the tension in the story. You can feel the claustrophobic nature of a small community, where everyone knows everyone and their story. Or do they? Is it true that isolated inhabitants of places like the fictional Arisaig know their neighbours and if they don’t what is the real story behind troubled lives of people like Jamie and Stella. The feeling of a community damaged by lies and half truths contributes to this atmosphere of mistrust and repressed anger that Stella walks into. Beneath the Water is an excellent read and I would not hesitate to recommend it to my fellow booked addicted friends.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tam

    This was a very enjoyable read. It featured a solid, steady plot and interesting characters. *I received a complimentary ARC of this book from NetGalley & Lake Union Publishing in order to read and provide a voluntary, unbiased and honest review, should I choose to do so. #BeneathTheWater #NetGalley This was a very enjoyable read. It featured a solid, steady plot and interesting characters. *I received a complimentary ARC of this book from NetGalley & Lake Union Publishing in order to read and provide a voluntary, unbiased and honest review, should I choose to do so. #BeneathTheWater #NetGalley

  14. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

    I received a copy from netgalley in exhange for an honest review. Wow this book kept me hooked. I love anything that has to do with scotland and castles. Add romance and i am all yours 😍😍😍 i definitely reccomend this is tou like a blend of mystery and romance.

  15. 5 out of 5

    K

    #netgalley #beneaththewater "I suggested that he might smile more and he held my hand over a candle until I cried and agreed that smiling was for fools." I thoroughly enjoyed Beneath the Water, which I received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. A bit gothic, a bit mystery, a bit love story, it suddenly takes a wicked turn towards the end. I found Stella to be a funny, sympathetic, warm and down to earth character, and her pain at the beginning of the book is palpable. Painter also #netgalley #beneaththewater "I suggested that he might smile more and he held my hand over a candle until I cried and agreed that smiling was for fools." I thoroughly enjoyed Beneath the Water, which I received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. A bit gothic, a bit mystery, a bit love story, it suddenly takes a wicked turn towards the end. I found Stella to be a funny, sympathetic, warm and down to earth character, and her pain at the beginning of the book is palpable. Painter also does a great job of creating a sense of place, in Scotland's Arisaig. Well done and highly recommend.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lina

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. At first we have Stella mourning her relationship and then she decides that she has to get up and heal. Good. Every person should do that, should change something in their lives to help them heal a broken heart, instead of posting bitter posts on Facebook aimed at their ex for YEARS after the break up. Then you have the whole past discovering business going on. That involves her ‘benevolent’ friends who set her up for a job is a house that is rumoured to be bad luck. What if the rumours were true At first we have Stella mourning her relationship and then she decides that she has to get up and heal. Good. Every person should do that, should change something in their lives to help them heal a broken heart, instead of posting bitter posts on Facebook aimed at their ex for YEARS after the break up. Then you have the whole past discovering business going on. That involves her ‘benevolent’ friends who set her up for a job is a house that is rumoured to be bad luck. What if the rumours were true and that house (and his master) were really the source for the deaths? Send the sheep in the wolf’s den? That’s not how friends are supposed to be. Then it’s revealed the reason behind that and it makes me more disgusted with the ‘friends’. Personally, I found their hobby for digging the past really cool. Not useful, but cool. I would like to do the same if I had Munro’s money. To be honest, it would be a failure if he really published that last book. How many advices can you take from a arrogant person? At first you try to live to the god’s words, but then you realise you are human and that is hard to follow his words. You start to live like a human and then start resenting god. This is true for some people with the actual religion too. Then there is the romance too. Thank god that it is late in the book and not diabetes inducing. To me it looks reasonable. She had a break-up, she cried her eyes out for four months, she realised it is bullshit and that she can’t continue feeling sorry for the rest of her life and gets up to change environment. Then she gets in a business arrangement with an attractive man and gradually she falls for him. At first, he seems a prick, image influenced by the rumours too. He’s not that bad, unless you are hired to get him to do something about which he seems to not give a shit, then yes, it’s frustrating. But as the book goes on, you can see he’s not a bad one. It is normal that she would fall for him. Plus, she herself realised she wasn’t really in love with her fiancé, she was in love with the security and what the union meant for her. No wonder the boy had second thoughts. Well, to me the book seems realistic enough to not be pissed that I wasted my time. I just wish that the author would reveal what really happened with the Munro couple.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Angelnet

    You can always rely on Sarah Painter to come up with something a little bit quirky, with a touch of the supernatural. In Beneath the Water there are two parallel stories being told. Letters from new wife Jessie back to her family from 19th century Edinburgh and the very modern tale of Stella. Having recently had her heart broken by fiance Ben she decides to take up an offer from her friends Caitlin and Rob to visit them at their home in Scotland. The remote coastal town of Arisaig is a welcome br You can always rely on Sarah Painter to come up with something a little bit quirky, with a touch of the supernatural. In Beneath the Water there are two parallel stories being told. Letters from new wife Jessie back to her family from 19th century Edinburgh and the very modern tale of Stella. Having recently had her heart broken by fiance Ben she decides to take up an offer from her friends Caitlin and Rob to visit them at their home in Scotland. The remote coastal town of Arisaig is a welcome break from the grief and despair that she has been feeling since the split but Stella soon discovers that there is a terrible secret lurking in the town. The dark and imposing Munro House has a strange attraction for her and the prospect of a temporary job there is an intriguing break from her real life. Author Jamie lives the life of a recluse keeping well away from the locals and the more that Stella learns about the Munros and their interaction with the villagers it seems like a sensible choice. Desperate to keep his business private and demanding signed NDAs as soon as she walks through the door Stella finds herself torn but takes the job. Painter weaves the stories from different centuries together with ease as both Stella and the reader start to realise just what Jessie has married into. A dark and terrible work of nineteenth century medicine and experimentation. This is a gripping tale that will have you right on the edge of your seat. Will Stella’s growing feelings for Jamie ultimately be her undoing? Supplied by Net Galley and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review. UK Publication date: Feb 8 2018. 334 pages.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Goldencam

    Stella was born with a heart defect that was repaired at birth but caused her some serious issues as a young adult. A new valve gave her a new lease on life, but only partially so; she’s skimming through things, working as a temp, engaged to Ben, who is good but not perfect, as if in a reflection of her understanding of the shorter time she might have to live. When Ben dumps her (a typical start to any contemporary romance, sure) she heads off to coastal Scotland to visit her friends from Uni, C Stella was born with a heart defect that was repaired at birth but caused her some serious issues as a young adult. A new valve gave her a new lease on life, but only partially so; she’s skimming through things, working as a temp, engaged to Ben, who is good but not perfect, as if in a reflection of her understanding of the shorter time she might have to live. When Ben dumps her (a typical start to any contemporary romance, sure) she heads off to coastal Scotland to visit her friends from Uni, Caitlin and Rob. They’re settled down and have a baby on the way, everything that Stella wants but has yet to achieve. Drawn in by the fresh air and beautiful scenery (and distance from her ex back in London) she tries to start over in the tiny village of Arisaig. The only one hiring is an eccentric best-selling novelist, Jamie Munro, who is far behind on his next deadline and needs a personal assistant. Romance blossoms (of course!) but so does a historical mystery and a revenge plot. There is a lot going on in this book! While it might be a hard read for some, since it is a little all over the place, I say just sit back and enjoy the ride. The characters are compelling, and while it could have used a little tightening up on the plot points towards the end (someone dies and yet there doesn’t seem to be any police involvement?) all in all it was a highly readable book. I enjoyed her last novel, In the of What We See, thought this one was even better, and will look forward to reading her next one.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alison Eden

    This book had lots going on. Heartbreak, mystery, A curse, old grudges, medical aspects, friendship and romance all set in a beautiful Scottish village with dramatic scenery. On the whole I felt that the different elements went together well. Stella was a well developed character and I was rooting for her and Jamie to get together. There were lots of twists and turns that kept me gripped to the very last page. What stopped me giving 5 stars for this was some loose ends that I didn't feel were ad This book had lots going on. Heartbreak, mystery, A curse, old grudges, medical aspects, friendship and romance all set in a beautiful Scottish village with dramatic scenery. On the whole I felt that the different elements went together well. Stella was a well developed character and I was rooting for her and Jamie to get together. There were lots of twists and turns that kept me gripped to the very last page. What stopped me giving 5 stars for this was some loose ends that I didn't feel were adequately explored or explained. For example what actually happened to Jamie's parents - was it an accident or murder. Why did Rob hate Jamie so much - at one point I wondered whether Rob was actually Jamie's half brother! And why was a big part of the village against Jamie when it was supposedly his father that had been universally disliked. It didn't stop me enjoying the book but I felt there was more that needed to be said........maybe there will be a sequel to this.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Milena

    2.5 stars rounded to 3 Beneath the Water sounded like a promising gothic story with an atmospheric setting - a mystery set in the grand old house in the Scottish Highlands, complete with a curse and a brooding enigmatic owner. I was very excited to read it. Unfortunately the book left me disappointed. I wasn't a fan of the writing style, it was flat and choppy. This may sound like an oxymoron but what I mean is it was flat because it elicited zero feelings (except boredom) or emotional response 2.5 stars rounded to 3 Beneath the Water sounded like a promising gothic story with an atmospheric setting - a mystery set in the grand old house in the Scottish Highlands, complete with a curse and a brooding enigmatic owner. I was very excited to read it. Unfortunately the book left me disappointed. I wasn't a fan of the writing style, it was flat and choppy. This may sound like an oxymoron but what I mean is it was flat because it elicited zero feelings (except boredom) or emotional response in me, but it was choppy because all the different elements didn't mesh well. The story jumped from one subplot to another with very little transition or connection. I didn't find any of the characters interesting, the romance was just blah, and the curse didn't make any sense. I just don't think Ms. Painter's writing is for me. *ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    I really enjoyed this story about secrets in the past and present. Sarah Painter created a great sense of place in the village of Arisaig with the cold and wet weather adding to the atmosphere of the book, creating a sense of claustrophobia in this small place where everyone knows everyone. A close knit community, rumours abound and grow and spread so quickly.  I particularly liked Stella. It was interesting to see how the heart condition she had as a child still affected her decision making, ho I really enjoyed this story about secrets in the past and present. Sarah Painter created a great sense of place in the village of Arisaig with the cold and wet weather adding to the atmosphere of the book, creating a sense of claustrophobia in this small place where everyone knows everyone. A close knit community, rumours abound and grow and spread so quickly.  I particularly liked Stella. It was interesting to see how the heart condition she had as a child still affected her decision making, how sometimes she settled for 'good enough' in case good enough was all she had time to experience. Throughout the book she really developed as a character and became more confident in standing up for what she wanted and believed in. She began to trust in the strength of her body and began to recognise that she deserved to be valued and loved. The letters at the beginning of the chapters were very intriguing, letters from Jessie Lockhart in 19th century Edinburgh, telling her sister of the early days of her marriage. Set amidst a time of great medical advances, there is a link to the present day where Jamie, the current owner of Munro House, is also looking to make his own kind of medical breakthrough. I would perhaps have liked there to have been more about Jessie and her husband and especially about how her letters ended up in Munro House. I don't mean that in a negative way, more that this part of the story was so clearly well researched and really piqued my interest. I also very much enjoyed the romantic element to the story and the rather dramatic conclusion to the book. Overall, a very compelling read. 

  22. 4 out of 5

    Hayley

    The book starts out with Stella visiting her friend Caitlin after a devastating breakup with her fiance. However much to everyone's horror the hotel she is staying at (the Munro house) is the exact same one where a local girl mysteriously died. The house they say was tied to a string of unsolved murders. Not long after she gets a job as an assistant to the eccentric Jamie Munro. It is around this time that she keeps hearing about the bad history between the Munro's and the Lockharts. However eve The book starts out with Stella visiting her friend Caitlin after a devastating breakup with her fiance. However much to everyone's horror the hotel she is staying at (the Munro house) is the exact same one where a local girl mysteriously died. The house they say was tied to a string of unsolved murders. Not long after she gets a job as an assistant to the eccentric Jamie Munro. It is around this time that she keeps hearing about the bad history between the Munro's and the Lockharts. However even with all this in mind the heart wants what the heart wants and she finds herself falling for the house owner and her boss Jamie Munro, but will this just spell out danger for her and will she be able to turn off before its to late? And is there something more to the murders at the munro house than she was lead to believe? And why does Dr. James Lockhart remind Stella so much of Jamie. It's been a long time since I've read a mystery novel and after reading this book I don't know why I waited so long. This book had such a mysterious and dark vibe without the author specifically saying that and im not sure how they manged it but to me that proves its a great mystery. There were so many twists and turns in this book that every time I thought I had things figured out there would be a new pieces of information revealed. I found the main characters very relateable and interesting that I wanted to know what was going to happen to them through the whole story. The whole story had a creepy Gothic feel to it which I just love and hate to admit but you don't see enough of it todays stories. It had the makings of a very good mystery movie and it played out that way the more you read the story. I think that my favourite character had to be Jamie Munro. He was written very well. Kind of eccentric but not in a over the top fake way just when you read him you can see people acting like that but its still a very weird person. He was the best character in the whole story. The best part about this book had to be how I didn't even feel I was reading it. It felt more like a thriller movie where I couldn't turn away and was waiting to see what happened. Great book and I'm thrilled that I got the chance to read it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    Stella has had a rough four months after her fiance leaves her. She takes a friend up on an offer to escape for a while to the Scottish Highlands. There, she finds herself working for a slightly manic, shut-in rich 'selp-helf' author who lives in the village's 'cursed big house' and takes ice baths. The writing was steady and effective, the story's pacing matching its overall feel. The synopsis of this story drew me in, I love a good shut-in and the setting of the book interested me as well. HOWE Stella has had a rough four months after her fiance leaves her. She takes a friend up on an offer to escape for a while to the Scottish Highlands. There, she finds herself working for a slightly manic, shut-in rich 'selp-helf' author who lives in the village's 'cursed big house' and takes ice baths. The writing was steady and effective, the story's pacing matching its overall feel. The synopsis of this story drew me in, I love a good shut-in and the setting of the book interested me as well. HOWEVER, there is a historical story being told at the same time as the current one and its link is tenuous at best. I feel like all stories set in small, close-knit communities always feature unusually grisly incidents and I don't get it. Both Jamie and Stella are brought smoothly(ish ) through transitory periods in their lives and the book turns into a romance novel halfway out of nowhere, I swear. Jamie bordered on unbearable and all Stella's friends were trifling as a motherfucker. Liked it though. . (view spoiler)[OH, ANOTHER THING, when Jamie tells Stella straight up that he’s not trying to commit and be her husband and baby father, but then still wants her around for sex and whatnot, girl should have said no and gotten the hell out of there. What was that if not a warning that he intended to have a roaming eye and in fact WOULD be with other women if he wasn’t a shut in? But whatever, I guess. She got over her ex and got her yams pounded by a hot Scotsman while getting to live rent-free in his manor house so who’s the real winner here? (hide spoiler)]

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    The 21st century doesn't lend itself easily to gothic- modern technology and knowledge undermines the mystery and aura they need to be successful. That said, a castle in Scotland like Munro House with its long history of tragedy and secrets is a good start. Painter does her best to recreate the novels some of us grew up with. There's Stella (the woman at loose ends and mourning a romance), there's Jamie (the tormented "master of the house"), there's a ghost of sorts, there's Ben (Stella's former The 21st century doesn't lend itself easily to gothic- modern technology and knowledge undermines the mystery and aura they need to be successful. That said, a castle in Scotland like Munro House with its long history of tragedy and secrets is a good start. Painter does her best to recreate the novels some of us grew up with. There's Stella (the woman at loose ends and mourning a romance), there's Jamie (the tormented "master of the house"), there's a ghost of sorts, there's Ben (Stella's former finance), there's a little romance, there's a back story, and so on. The medical experiments are the weak part of this, to my mind and it doesn't come together as quickly as some might like but it's a good read nonetheless. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Be patient with this one.

  25. 4 out of 5

    nikkia neil

    Thanks Lake Union Publishing and netgalley for this ARC. A mystery, gothic horror, and modern story all jumbled up and thrown out like puzzle pieces.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    *Sigh* I really wanted to like this book. I really wanted my boredom of the story to pass and the plot suddenly change to be exciting and drawing me in completely. I really wanted to be able to give a review for a Lake Union Publishing book that I enjoyed recently. There are have been many in the past but that was before I found NetGalley. But none of what I really wanted was going to happen during this book. I'm so disappointed. The story just fell. I could never figure out why the characters d *Sigh* I really wanted to like this book. I really wanted my boredom of the story to pass and the plot suddenly change to be exciting and drawing me in completely. I really wanted to be able to give a review for a Lake Union Publishing book that I enjoyed recently. There are have been many in the past but that was before I found NetGalley. But none of what I really wanted was going to happen during this book. I'm so disappointed. The story just fell. I could never figure out why the characters did or didn't do things or even why some characters were part of the story. I gave up before I had even finished the book. I seem to be finding many unenjoyable books recently. I hope my dry spell changes soon!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Erin Haslett

    Beneath the water opens with Stella, our main character recently broken hearted. Her fiancé broke up with her unexpectedly and she is surrounded by memories in their dream home. To get away from her sadness, she decides to travel to Scotland to visit with college friends. After over staying her welcome a bit, her friend/hostess Caitlyn decides that it's time for a change of scenery for her friend and sets her up with a job interview at a local estate as an assistant to a young author and rumored Beneath the water opens with Stella, our main character recently broken hearted. Her fiancé broke up with her unexpectedly and she is surrounded by memories in their dream home. To get away from her sadness, she decides to travel to Scotland to visit with college friends. After over staying her welcome a bit, her friend/hostess Caitlyn decides that it's time for a change of scenery for her friend and sets her up with a job interview at a local estate as an assistant to a young author and rumored mad man. Left with little options besides going back to her dream home without her fiancé, Stella agrees to go. Stella gets hired and is even offered free living quarters on the large estate. Her new boss, Jamie, is a young, handsome, rich man who is putting himself through impossible medical experiments for research for his new book. He seems like the mad man everyone thinks he is. As time passes, Stella sees that Jamie isn't what is seems and that there is a lot more to the town talk then meets the eye. Beneath the water was a very interesting book, well paced and with a fascinating story line. It was twisty enough to keep up with a thriller suspense novel, with a touch of historical fiction, and romance. I loved every part of this story.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sandie

    Having survived major medical issues in her life, Stella Jackson is confident and over the moon with the life she shares with her fiancé Ben. When Ben breaks their engagement, Stella, unable to cope with the breakup moves from the home they shared in London to the rural Scotland coastal village of Arisaig at the invitation of old college friends Caitlan and Rob. When Caitlan submits Stella’s resume to Jamie Munro of Munro House and Stella is hired on as his assistant things really begin to heat Having survived major medical issues in her life, Stella Jackson is confident and over the moon with the life she shares with her fiancé Ben. When Ben breaks their engagement, Stella, unable to cope with the breakup moves from the home they shared in London to the rural Scotland coastal village of Arisaig at the invitation of old college friends Caitlan and Rob. When Caitlan submits Stella’s resume to Jamie Munro of Munro House and Stella is hired on as his assistant things really begin to heat up. BENEATH THE WATER is a tale enlivened by suspense, romance and several unexpected twists as the characters grapple with life’s challenges while exploring deeper issues like loyalty, trust and long held rivalries. Sarah Painter has created complex characters and thrust them into intriguing situations deftly wrapping unusual elements into a many-layered and puzzling narrative that makes its way through mayhem and death keeping readers guessing and turning pages far into the night. Thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review this book

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I wanted to read this book because it's set in Arisaig, and I had high hopes for it given the premise and gorgeous cover. I was excited to get the ARC from NetGalley. Unfortunately, the setting ended up being just about all I liked about it. Other reviewers seem to like it, so clearly I'm in the minority here, but this was decidedly not for me... Firstly, I found this book SO SLOW to get going. I almost gave up reading it about nine times, and trudging through this book became a chore. Literally, I wanted to read this book because it's set in Arisaig, and I had high hopes for it given the premise and gorgeous cover. I was excited to get the ARC from NetGalley. Unfortunately, the setting ended up being just about all I liked about it. Other reviewers seem to like it, so clearly I'm in the minority here, but this was decidedly not for me... Firstly, I found this book SO SLOW to get going. I almost gave up reading it about nine times, and trudging through this book became a chore. Literally, this book could have been 100 pages shorter and all the better for it. Secondly, I am STILL unclear on the genre of this book.... it's not horror, because it wasn't scary (maybe creepy). It's not a mystery because it's all extremely predictable, each of the sub-plots are pretty obvious early on (and some aren't even great, I mean, media coverage betrayal? Come on!). It's not really romance either, or at least an enjoyable one, because Jamie Munro is the WORST male protagonist I've encountered in a long time and I disliked him throughout the entire book. I found myself skimming his dialogue, that's how little I liked him for Stella. He's selfish, arrogant, and unappreciative. And the "romance" between him and Stella was SO forced. He treats her like crap as his assistant, is super condescending and tempermental, and then out of NOWHERE confesses that he "can't stop thinking about her", followed by asking her out but then saying he doesn't believe in relationships? I mean, he was RUDE TO THE WAITRESS, isn't that like Rule #1 of How to Exile Yourself from Date-ability??? Apparently, Stella is one extremely understanding (re: blindly forgiving) gal. I have to say, Stella was a likeable enough main character. She had an interesting backstory and was strong-minded some of the time. In those times, I admired her. However, even she annoyed me at times with how she constantly felt guilty for speaking her mind, how she somehow left conversations with Jamie feeling like she'd been overly harsh (she never was BTW, he's just an ass), and how she had no spine when it came to making certain decisions. From day one, she'd been going on and on about wanting a family, wanting a husband, wanting to not be screwed over, etc. and then minutes after communicating these desires she goes for Jamie, who tells her that he doesn't believe in monogamy AFTER BEING ROMANTIC AND ASKING HER ON A DATE WHEN HE KNOWS WHAT SHE WANTS! Also, Stella's backstory, heart problems, being scared to die before seeing her children grow etc etc was interesting but it was mentioned soooooo many times that it just got annoying. I think it was meant to show that she's in a position to be especially compassionate towards other characters given the circumstances, but WOW was it redundant. And don't get me started on her backstory with her ex... it's posed like a great mystery, like as the book progresses we'll learn more and more about what went wrong with them, but we DON'T! It's clear from the tone of the book all along that he was just a bad guy. And he wasn't even bad in an interesting way! If I hadn't sunk so much time into reading the first half of this, I would have 100% DNF'd it. As it were, I read it and truly regret finishing it. It had so much potential but I'm disappointed I wasted my time. RANT ADJOURNED

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lolly K Dandeneau

    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ 'We’re all dying one minute at a time, it’s just some of us are more aware of it.' Stella Jackson has lived with serious health complications, recently having a successful surgery but still has lingering reminders, breathlessness, lack of energy. Lucky to be healing and alive, she isn’t as lucky in love. Her beloved fiance and long time friend Ben has broken her heart, the only thing left for her to do is leave London. She decides to retreat to S via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ 'We’re all dying one minute at a time, it’s just some of us are more aware of it.' Stella Jackson has lived with serious health complications, recently having a successful surgery but still has lingering reminders, breathlessness, lack of energy. Lucky to be healing and alive, she isn’t as lucky in love. Her beloved fiance and long time friend Ben has broken her heart, the only thing left for her to do is leave London. She decides to retreat to Scotland with her dear friends Caitlin and Rob, licking her wounds. She hasn’t much enthusiasm for anything, still trying to adjust to her loss but Caitlin decides to push her friend into a job. When Stella begins working at Munro House for its master Jamie Munro, she wonders at his eccentric behaviors. The locals think he is crazy, and she is shocked he failed to divulge there was a death before she took the job. When she finds letters by a Victorian wife who suffered her husband’s (Dr. James Lockheart) creepy ‘medical genius’ experiments, they seem eerily similar to Jamie’s own ‘research’. No stranger to the incredible advances of medicine and it’s benefits herself, she is still uneasy with his tests and plans. Certainly he is pushing himself too far, taking too many dangerous risks. The novel promises a curse, the old letters reveal a woman who declines after giving birth, but therein lies the mystery. Stella feels a tie to Jessie, despite the passage of time. Is there truly some curse or is it something more? Just what was her husband doing? Jamie’s own parents accident is clouded by mystery and rumors. Just what did happen that ill-fated day? Why does Rob seem so angered by Jamie? Does the village really know what happened? Jamie seems to be as much in the dark about his family tragedy as Stella is, but what will he risk to uncover the truth of the tragedy? I enjoyed the novel but the romance wasn’t very exciting. I also felt things were sort of skimmed over, such as Jamie’s parent’s antics, etc. It just didn’t feel personal enough to me as a reader. Stella needed to be a lot angrier about many things, I kept wanting some fire out of her. Ben is thrown in here and there and that seemed pointless, I don’t know, I could have done without him showing his face at all later in the novel. I think I just wanted Stella to have more life to her, react like another woman would maybe? I was expecting a gothic curse, something more malevolent. All in all it was a decent novel, I think I was expecting something darker though. Publication Date: February 8, 2018 Lake Union Publishing

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