I am taking part in the tour today for the latest book by an author who has fast become one of my favourites for fun, escapist travel romance writing. It’s A Sunrise Over Bali by Sandy Barker. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour and to the author and publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.
Home is where the heart is . . .
When Jaelee Tan leaves her high-flying PR job in Miami for a sabbatical in Bali, the last thing she expects is for it to become permanent. But when her boss demands the trip be cut short, Jae does the only thing she can think of and quits on the spot.
With two months in Bali, a new group of friends and the gorgeous scenery and beaches, Jae is determined to make the most of her new-found freedom. And when she locks eyes with hunky Scot, Alistair, Jae wonders if she’ll lose her heart to more than just a Balinese sunrise.
As I stated above, I am rather a devotee of Sandy Barker’s travel romance novels. I know they are always going to cheer me up and whisk me away from cold, wet, dull February in Yorkshire, and all my problems, and drop me directly into some exotic location, with an array of interesting characters, add a scoop of steamy romance, and carry me along. This book was no different, and I thoroughly enjoyed it for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, it was the setting. This is the main reason I read Sandy’s books, for the armchair travelling aspect. Travel porn is what they are. This is particularly important at the moment, given the lack of travel opportunities we have had over the past two years, and I am a travel junkie. Getting my fix of other places and cultures on a regular basis feeds my insatiable curiosity and keeps me buoyant and I am missed it hugely during the pandemic. Books like Sandy’s, which allow me to experience it vicariously, have been my lifeline. Bali is a place I sent many clients when I ran my travel consultancy, but I’ve never been myself and this book brought Ubud right into my living room. I could see, hear, smell, taste and touch the place, such is her skill at bringing her locations to vivid life, and you can fully immerse yourself in the place from the comfort of your sofa. I particularly enjoyed the fact she does not shy away from portraying some of the less desirable aspects of the destination – she’s not writing copy for the tourist board here, but giving the reader a true picture of the place, which I appreciate. You will still want to book a trip as soon as you’ve finished reading it though.
Secondly, the characters. Now, Jaelee was not the easiest of characters to warm to in the beginning. She’s quite hard and brash, a little bit arrogant, quite unforgiving and hasty to judge others. However, over the course of the book, we gradually begin to realise why she is why she is, and we actively see her changing under the influence of her experiences in Bali and her new friends, and she grew on me greatly. This is the key to a great story, the transformation of the main character from beginning to end, and Jaelee in this book is one of the characters we can see this most obviously happening too. Sandy gives her some great supporting characters to help her along the way, with their own fascinating stories and journeys to go on in the book. Peta was a particular favourite. It made me wish I were in my twenties again (not almost 50!) so that I could take off travelling and have similar experiences.
Finally, I loved the theme of this book which is friendship, choosing your own family and finding your tribe. People sometimes just expect romance novels to only deal with romance, but they greatly underestimate the genre. The issues explored outside of the central romance are often equally or more important that the love story, and most readers will be able to find something or someone to relate to if they care to try. This theme certainly resonates with me, to whom friendships are the things that hold me up in life and encourage me to be my best self, and I thoroughly enjoyed Jaelee’s journey in this regard.
Sandy has knocked it out of the park again with this book. If you are already a fan of her work, I’m sure you’ll love this one too. If you are new to her books, come on, dive in..the water is lovely.
A Sunrise Over Bali is out in ebook format on 17 February and in paperback in May, and you can preorder a copy here.
Please do follow the rest of the tour for more reviews from some great bloggers and other content:
About the Author
Sandy is a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list, and many of her travel adventures have found homes in her novels. She’s also an avid reader, a film buff, a wine lover and a coffee snob.
Sandy lives in Melbourne Australia with her partner, Ben, who she met while travelling in Greece. Their real-life love story inspired Sandy’s debut novel One Summer in Santorini, the first in the Holiday Romance series with One More Chapter, an imprint of HarperCollins.
The series continues in That Night in Paris and A Sunset in Sydney and there are two more to come in 2022. Her standalone novel The Christmas Swap celebrates her favourite time of the year, and next up is The Dating Game, a laugh-out-loud romcom set in the world of Reality TV.
Connect with Sandy:
Facebook: Sandy Barker Author