Book Review: Tom Barry’s When the Siren Calls

15861701Title: When the Siren Calls
Author: Tom Barry
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Yes / Book 1 of 3
Rating: 4 out of 5
My Copy: Complimentary copy via LibraryThing’s Member Giveaway

Isobel Roberts is a wealthy married woman, but her marriage is lacking passion. Her husband, Peter, is happy and satisfied when he’s on his laptop working. When the opportunity to travel to Marrakech is presented, Isobel happily accepts thinking she and Peter could use the holiday to rekindle their marriage, however; Isobel is left to wander the city alone. During one of her outings she’s saved by Jay Brooke. Isobel questions if Jay’s her savior or if she’s set herself up to another prey. The two are clearly attracted to each other, but nothing comes of it and Isobel quickly returns to her life in London. Months later Isobel and Jay come face to face during a real estate investment opportunity. This time there’s no denying the attraction and Isobel longs to be with him. Will she give in to the mutual attraction?

Barry does a great job taking the time to set up his characters. If readers have a difficult time associating with Isobel, I believe it has to do with her sexless marriage. I’m sure a lot of women will probably think an easy solution is divorce, but for some it’s not clear cut. Isobel is a woman who clearly loves her workaholic husband and she’s happy with him and the life they’ve made together. She doesn’t open up to her best friend, Maria, about her marriage. I think if she had confided in her, Isobel wouldn’t be in the situation she faces.

At times, it’s difficult to feel any empathy towards Jay especially when you’re confronted with his shady business dealings; all you want to do is run towards his potential investors and stop them from having anything to do with him. Then we have Lucy, a beautiful flight attendant who is looking to move up in the world. She’s convinced Jay’s her ticket to the lifestyle she covets, but is Jay willing to leave his family for her? Barry doesn’t go into extensive detail regarding Jay’s marriage with Rusty. As readers, we can’t decide if we like Rusty since she’s just mentioned in the background. The one scene where we do have the opportunity to show us what the Brooke marriage is like, we don’t get any in-depth characterization of Rusty. Is Jay telling Lucy the truth about his marriage being one of convenience? Or is just a common lie married men who cheat say? I’m hoping book 2, Saving Jay, will go into further detail about his marriage. Going back to Lucy, she’s easy to sympathize with. She gets, in my opinion, some terrible advice from a friend and sometimes men like Jay don’t like to be pushed. I wish she realized she was worth more and she shouldn’t settle being someone’s mistress.

There might be some confusion among readers as to why Barry sets up the different narratives and we go from one character’s life to another, but he does it for a reason. We need to know Isobel’s background and what she’s dealing with on a day to day basis. Although we get an insight to Jay’s life and his business deals, When the Siren Calls really is Isobel’s story. We need to understand Jay’s motives when it comes to his business and the best way to do that is for Barry to take us on a journey of his life while showing us what Isobel is going through. By doing this, we get a bigger picture at the implication of Isobel’s choices and what they mean in the end.

Tom Barry’s debut novel is an intriguing read. He leaves us with a cliffhanger and I can’t wait to read Saving Jay and find out what made Jay the man he is today.

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Interview: Tom Barry

tomSyndicated interview with Tom Barry, author of When the Siren Calls.

Q: After a long career at the top of your profession, what prompted you to write a novel?
My original plan was to write a business book that distilled down everything I’d learnt about selling over 20 years in the corporate world. But when the opportunity came, I decided that, if I were to be a writer, I’d rather entertain my readers than lecture them! Much more fascinating, it seemed to me, to embody everything I knew about persuasion in a fictional character, in a master persuader.

Q: So, your business career was key to being able to write this story?
Yes. People tell me I’m a salesman by nature and I’ve spent 20 years in management consultancy, or what I prefer to call the persuasion game. My only tool was my pen, so what I was really selling was hope, hope to corporations looking for salvation. And that is what the master persuader appeals to in my story; to people’s hopes and to their dreams.

Q: You’ve set your story in a fictional luxury tourist development in Tuscany. Where did that idea come from?
Once I had the idea of a character – a master persuader who would use his skills for business and pleasure – I thought about context and setting. I’ve lived and worked abroad much of my life, and I have bought property in Italy and Spain, amongst other places. I know a lot about the siren call of living in the sun, having answered that call myself, and I’ve learnt the hard way about the perils and pitfalls of overseas property investment. So I set my story against the background of a dream holiday condominium for expats. It could be anywhere you find Brits in the sun, but I chose Tuscany because I love visiting there, and I knew stereotypical hot-blooded and hot-headed Italians would add plenty of spice to my story.

Q: The master persuader is not your protagonist. What made you give the story a female lead?
I wanted the book to be about the characters and what happens to them, not a case study in selling or in living the expat life. When the Siren calls is the story of two people, Isobel and Jay, but the more the characters came to life as I wrote the story, the more I fell in love with Isobel, and the more I wanted it to be at least as much her story as Jay’s.

Q: What is that story?
Isobel is quintessentially English: a modern day Lady Chatterley. When she meets Jay, she imagines a life of excitement outside her stagnant marriage, free of her workaholic husband. When the Siren Calls tells what happens next.

Q: What makes your story different to other romance/thriller novels out there?
Several things. First, I’ve written cross-genre. My book is a romantic suspense and business thriller brought together around three common threads: seduction, deception and betrayal. Second, it’s written from multiple points of view; we don’t see the story just through Isobel’s eyes and every character is the hero of his own story.

The result is a story with twists and turns that keep you guessing. But more importantly it is fresh and original because it does not follow the formulaic approach that all publishers now demand before they will even consider a manuscript from a debut author. The reader sees characters’ actions through the characters’ point of view, and the point of view of their adversaries, and it is for the reader to decide who the good guys are.

Q: Does that mean different readers will view characters differently?
Exactly, take Isobel for example. I hope every reader will find her an empathetic character and I think most will be rooting for her. But not everyone will agree with how she behaves.

Q: How difficult was it to put yourself inside the head of a female protagonist?
People seem to readily accept that you don’t need to be a vampire to write a vampire novel. And D.H Lawrence was able to put himself inside the head of Lady Chatterley, just as a middle-aged woman was able to put herself inside the head of an eleven-year wizard.

Q: Are you confident that women readers will identify with Isobel?
I know they will because I have fans who have read the Prequel to the novel saying they are going crazy waiting for the full release. And it’s not just women. Isobel’s situation is universal, and everyone over the age of fifteen will relate to it. We all, at some point, find ourselves in a place, a job or a relationship that is not fulfilling. Isobel’s problem is that she lacks the courage to live a life true to herself rather than the one other people expect. Whether she will find the courage she needs remains the issue right to the end of the story.

Q: WTSC is the first book in a trilogy. When can we expect book two?
The second book, Saving Jay, is already written. The timing on the release is something I discuss with my agent regularly. We haven’t set a date yet, but hopefully you will see Saving Jay in bookshops late spring 2013.

Permission granted by Tom Barry to repost this interview. For more information please visit his website.

Spotlight: Author Tom Barry

15861701Synopsis:
When the Siren Calls: story of seduction, deception and betrayal…
When restless and neglected Isobel is invited to an idyllic Tuscan retreat owned by the suave and streetwise Jay, she imagines a life of excitement outside her stagnant marriage. Despite fear and guilt, she abandons herself in a passionate love affair, but is soon trapped in a web of feminine manipulation, business intrigue, and ruthless ambition, while controlling Jay encourages conservative Isobel to push beyond her sexual boundaries.

But all is not as it seems in the hilltop paradise and as her lover battles for survival, she finds herself a player in a dangerous love triangle. Unable to know who she can trust, she must fight to control both her own cravings and to save what little of herself is left. As her life falls apart, she is torn between the consequences of infidelity, her love for Jay, and fear that he will be her nemesis. For both Isobel and Jay, the excesses and confusions of an uncertain and largely amoral age are about to be brought home to roost, right in the heart of their lives. Witty and smattered with the best sort of irony, with twists and turns that keep you guessing, When the Siren Calls is a sensual and moving emotional drama that titillates the senses while racing along like a Grisham thriller. The novel will appeal to adult readers of romantic suspense and to fans of Fifty Shades of Grey.

tomAbout Tom
A published writer at University, Tom Barry spent 20 years in management consultancy with Accenture, Deloitte, and PwC, advising the Boards of leading global brands such as Apple, Disney, Toyota and Vodafone. His career prompted a specific interest in the art of persuasive communication. He is passionate about nurturing young talent and has supported a number of UK and overseas schools, including the Nordoff Robbins Centre for Music Therapy. He lives near London and is currently working with the Brit Writers’ Awards, a charitable initiative to promote creative writing in our schools.

From consultant to author
You become a writer because you think you’ve got something to say worth listening to. I chose to be a novelist because I want to entertain my readers, not preach to them. The challenge is to transport readers to times, places and events where they can lose themselves in stories about heroes they can identify with, who triumph against the odds and who change and grow in the process; but most of all readers want to enjoy the ride. Back in my consulting days, it was a great buzz to work for household name companies and to meet industry icons like Bill Gates. Not many careers offer that opportunity to you when you are in your twenties and thirties. But like your first born, few things beat the thrill of holding your debut novel in your hand.

Five facts about Tom
1. One of eight kids, my life story is the classic immigrant tale of seeking to live up to parental expectations, while working to mark out your own trail.
2. I have aspects of an obsessive personality, establishing a worklife balance was a major challenge.
3. I gave up on my business career in my mid-forties, I just didn’t tell my boss! Find something you enjoy doing, and you’ll never work another day.
4. I tell my kids education is the best gift I can give them, it’s no weight to carry and no one can take it off you.
5. I almost bought Northampton Town Football Club (my birth town) in 2001.

Connect with Tom
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Twitter: tombarry100
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