The Women of Pearl Island by Polly Crosby. (2021).
**3 out of 5 stars**
**Thank you to Harlequin Australia for sending me a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review; published 29 September 2021**
When Tartelin accepts a job with the reclusive Marianne, she finds herself on a wild island with a mysterious history. She is tasked with hunting butterflies for Marianne’s research. But she quickly uncovers something far more intriguing than the curious creatures on the island. Because the island and Marianne share a remarkable history, and what happened all those years ago has left scars and terrible secrets. As Tartelin pieces together Marianne’s connection to the island, she must confront her own reasons for being there. Can the two women finally face up to the painful memories that bind them to the past?
I was intrigued by the synopsis of this novel and I’m not going to lie, I was also very much drawn to the stunning cover. This story included dual timelines, with Marianne being a feature in both. In the more recent timeline we have Tartelin as the main focus. I think to begin with Marianne appears a bit unlikable with her behaviour being a bit blunt and off-putting, but as the reader learns more about her history she becomes more approachable. I must admit I was surprised when I realised Tartelin was only roughly 20 years old; I thought she was older as she seemed so world weary at times. The book ended up in a direction I wasn’t expecting at all, and I did think the descriptions of the island and its inhabitants were quite beautiful. However I also thought the pacing was a bit slow moving and I had quite a few unanswered questions at the end.
Overall: I would recommend this book for those readers that enjoy dual timeline fiction and appreciate an unusual mystery in a story.