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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
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on 23 October 2016
Enjoyed reading
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on 7 October 2014
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, as the saying goes. And for Jack Redman, the main protagonist in this book, that is certainly the case. As in the first book in this series, we are confronted by messy lives, terrible binds, bad decisions and their repercussions. Only this time Jan Ruth has certainly upped the ante and her characters have even more at stake. However, the pitfalls and perils are all mixed up with love––the sexual, parental, familial and platonic kinds.
Dark Water is the sequel to Wild Water. It takes up the story of Cheshire estate agent, Jack Redman, his ex-wife Patsy and Jack's new partner, Anna. What I especially like about these main characters is that they're over forty–– Jack is fifty––but they're in no way 'past-it'. And their age and experience in no way grants them wisdom. These are flawed, disillusioned people with lots of baggage, but for all of them there is hope.

But, right from the start of Dark Water, it's clear that things are not going to flow on smoothly to happy-ever-after for Jack or any of the people close to him. Jack is torn between wanting to be with Anna, and wanting to do right by his children. His decision, under pressure from his ex-wife, to move her and their younger daughter, Lottie, along with her toddler son, James, to be nearer to Lottie's new school in Wales and hence very near to Anna's home puts an intolerable strain on Jack and Anna's relationship. The question of James's parentage¬¬––he could be Jack's son after all––the reappearance of Chelsey's father, Simon Banks–– now a dangerously disturbed individual who also bears a grudge towards Anna and who wants to reveal his identity to an unsuspecting Chelsey at any cost––the proximity of Patsy to Anna, and the commute to and from his two offices in Cheshire and Wales all lead to Jack's life being increasingly complicated and stressful. And, in the end, complicated and stressful becomes dangerous and life-threatening.
The setting is almost another character in its own right, especially when the action takes place in Wales. It certainly adds to the atmosphere. But the description isn't overdone. There's just enough to let the reader form their own picture of the dramatic landscape but it doesn't get in the way. Having said that though, the novel is very visual and the characters and settings are vivid enough that it's not hard to visualise them as part of a television drama. Dark Water has a Sally Wainwright - Last Tango in Halifax, Scott & Bailey vibe to it. Jack's poky flat that he shares with his son, the farmhouse, Patsy's cottage, the quarry, the mountains and the art gallery where Anna exhibits her work––all were, in my head at least, easily translated into sets.
The tele-visual appeal is also reinforced by the narrative's questions and twists along the way which go from intriguing to scary. The author is skilled in pacing their resolutions and reveals, and in peppering the narrative with just enough relatively minor details of the character's daily lives to make the whole seem credible and true to life. And the climax and its denouement are utterly gripping. There's also a feeling there's more to come ––something the epilogue sets up nicely. All very fitting for dramatisation.
The themes of love, disappointment, loss and hope run through this book. The author lets us see them developing through the eyes of both Jack and Anna. She lets us inside their heads and lets us feel their emotions. In this way they become real, flawed and familiar to the reader.
Jan Ruth makes the reader care about her characters' fates. She portrays all the characters––heroes and villains––as credible individuals, so we can even feel sorry for and understand the less likeable ones. And how utterly refreshing to have some older lead characters. Hurrah for this fine example of those of us who've matured beyond the 'chick' stage and are now older, wiser birds.
This is excellent contemporary fiction. If I had to shelve it in my virtual book shop, I'd put it in the contemporary women's fiction section. It's not chick-lit; it's not Mills and Boon romance. It's thinking, mature woman-lit and, like its intended readership, it's got depth, grit, realism and warmth.
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Jack Redman, estate agent to the smart Cheshire set, should be living the life of his dreams in North Wales with his partner Anna. But his commute from the leafy suburbs of Wilmslow, to the rural bliss of Gwern farm on the outskirts of Conwy, is fraught with anxiety. Caught between a rock and hard place, Jack struggles to organize a life which is made all the more complicated by his increasingly demanding ex-wife Patsy, his precocious daughter Lottie, and the uncertain paternity of two of his children. Whilst he struggles to keep the peace with Anna, the phrase, oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive, springs to mind as Jack Redman tries to juggle his increasingly difficult personal life.

All too often sequels can become a bit of damp squib with less on offer than what has gone before, but rest assured that this is not the case with Dark Water. This follow-on story picks up on the threads which were left hanging at the end of Wild Water. With her usual panache and fine attention to detail Jan Ruth brings together all the pieces of a story which very quickly become a roller coaster of emotional turmoil and smouldering resentments. There is never a lull in the narrative, the plot is allowed to evolve beautifully, and there some really lovely, light moments which offset the darker elements of the story. The banter between Jack and his small daughter, Lottie, is quite irresistible and I found myself laughing out loud at some of their dialogue, and likewise the touching moments between Anna and her dog Benson, brought tears to my eyes and echoed the memories of what it feels like to lose something precious. With the tension is racked up to an almost impossible level, Jack, Anna and Patsy get caught up in a dark and deadly story of long buried secrets, which threatens not just their relationship with each other, but which also has a profound effect on their family and friends.

As with any part-two story, it is almost essential to have read the first book, and whilst it’s not impossible to pick up the story, you will miss the finer points and that would be to do both the story and the author a disservice as the books should be read sequentially. I am heartened that the ending of Dark Water could almost lend itself to another visit to this beautiful part of Wales and I’m sure that Jack Redman and company have a lot more life in them for future stories. I really hope so....
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on 13 March 2017
Dark Water is both a tense and fulfilling sequel to the original Wild Water book. At first I wasn’t sure if it would live up to the first one, but as usual, as it went on, it became more and more gripping. There were times when I wasn’t happy with Anna or Jack, and an added villain in this one heightened the tension even more. In the end, I loved it and am eager to read the final book in the series, Silent Water, as well as the rest of Jan Ruth’s work.
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on 1 September 2014
Dark Water is a contemporary read and the sequel to Wild Water. It takes place approximately three years after the first book and continues with the complicated life of Jack Redman. Owner of Redman Estate agents. He has three children, an ex-wife, a new partner and a whole handful of problems.

Juggling far too many balls in the air at once and attempts to work only part-time are failing badly. Jack tries very hard to please everyone and his life spirals out of control.

This book definitely has a darker side to it than the first and I actually think I preferred the first book. I had more sympathy for Jack. In this book I just wanted to shake him and sit him down and have a good talk to him about the mess his life was in.

Still an enjoyable read.

This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by the author.
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on 25 March 2017
You have to read the first book which is called Wild Water to understand and know the characters, I was so glad to read the next part of Jack's story. I got a sense right from the start that things weren't looking very good for Jack and his family, he is torn between Anna and his children but which will he choose. I still found Patsy horrible some of the things she does is awful. I was so intrigued by what would happen I read this book in a day. It was brilliant.
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on 8 July 2014
My oh my. Just as Jack Redman thought things were going well for him, his life begins to disintegrate before his eyes. With spending most of his time in Cheshire, he only has the weekends usually in Wales when he goes home to Anna. The descriptions of the Welsh countryside make you feel like you're there and it's plain to see that it's a place dear to Jan Ruth's heart.

Jack is a successful estate agent and has a nice stable relationship with Anna, but sadly the status quo doesn't last long. History often has the habit of rearing it's ugly head just when you least expect it. Patsy his ex-wife and mother to his children, is always in the background as he shares custody of his children wth her. Patsy knows how to manipulate Jack and she manages to do this very well, usually appearing to get her own way most of the time or setting the seeds for situations to work in her favour.

Simon Banks is a blast from the past, and is a man on a mission. How his mission affects the extended Redman clan is revealed slowly. He is a past acquaintance of Jack, Patsy and Anna but whether he is an acquaintance that they are happy to be reacquainted with remains to be seen.

Poor Jack, just when you think things can't get any worse for him, that's just what they seem to do. He can't seem to do right for doing wrong.

Anna tries her best to keep everyone happy and often goes the extra mile to please other people in the family, but she is soon at the end of her tether with certain situations that arise.

In Wild Water I found Patsy despicable, but at times in this story I found myself feeling a little sorry for her, don't ask me why though. Leopards never seem to change their spots and this much can be said of Patsy too. She unfortunately is her own worst enemy.

With a great mix of secondary characters, with the extended Redman clan and their friends, we have the makings of a great story with lots to tell and believe me there is plenty to tell.

I was sent an ARC of this story from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This is a definite 10/10 from me and will be a cracker of the month. It's well written and is a darker read than Wild Water. There are plenty of moments of humour and comedy, having me laughing at times to myself. Mixed with this humour though, are darker parts and as the story develops you'll be wondering where the story is taking you. At times I found myself hoping that all was going to work out well in the end, but there is no guarantee at all that it will. No one ever said life was all hearts and flowers all the time.

So grab yourself a cuppa or a nice glass of wine and settle yourself down and enjoy the rollercoaster of a ride that you'll be taken on.
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on 13 March 2015
Enjoyed this book more than the first, it had a better story and it was nice to see that some of the characters got what they were due.
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on 30 July 2014
Another brilliant book from Jan Ruth, this is a sequel to Wild Water, where we met the cast and watched them sort out their mistakes and misunderstandings, to live happily ever after. Dark Water takes us into the ever after and it’s not happy like a fairy tale, because these characters are very convincingly real and that means they’ve brought all their quirks and failings with them, and once more I want to plead with them, or shout “No, don’t do it!” There’s conflict, aggravation, grief, drama and humour, woven together in some unforgettable scenes (Lottie’s phone calls, Benson, Oxfam, resident racoons), and just when everything finally sorts itself out, a school bus arrives… Deep water, still around the corner.
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on 3 April 2016
Goes down as another off my 2016 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – a book with water on the cover. So many twists and turns that will have you guessing throughout at what will happen next and why certain people are acting the way they are.

The author has the ability to take you on a journey along with the characters, a skill of a good piece of writing. Nothing feels rushed. It just flows at a believable pace where you can imagine things happening.

Poor old Jack, he does tend to make all the wrongs decisions first before seeing the light. Not sure what he was thinking when he started to trust his ex Pasty again, and then to move her and the kids to the same village as Anna’s home made my mind boggle. Jack always wants to do what’s best for everyone but doesn’t always do what’s right. The story starts three years after his daughters wedding where he found out he wasn’t really her biological father. If he had just sat her down along with Pasty then they might have saved themselves an awful lot of trouble. Trouble which comes in the form of Simon Banks, the real biological father, who has got it into his head that he wants his daughter back and will stop at nothing to get to her – a very interesting but unstable character. There’s also the fact that Jack still hasn’t had a DNA test done to see if Pasty’s son, now three, is his. Denial pays a major part for Jack for the first half of this book.

Anna has had enough of everything that keeps happening with Jack and his baggage. She loves him completely but seems to have lost herself along the way the past few years, just like she did with her ex. A new opportunity appears and she finally starts to feel like she is doing something professional with her paintings. But then when Jack goes and moves Pasty to her village she just feels hemmed in. Everywhere she goes she fears of bumping into her. Its like she is constantly on guard, and along with the threat of Simon Banks, feels like the only way out is to move out. Her friend Hilly is also acting strange. Takes a while to understand why she is suddenly so off with her but once you do everything else slowly falls into place.

Drastic actions are needed from all sides and it seems like its all leading to a major climax – which it is. What a ride you are taken on throughout. I feel for Anna as she is always in the middle, having to settle and she shouldn’t have to. Cleverly interlinked sections that come together to create a great story. Lets hope Jack and Anna can get their HEA without too much more trouble brewing in the Welsh hills from now on.

I received this ARC from the author for my honest review.
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