Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

Light & Pol-dark in ‘Stone Ruins and City Smoke’


Stone Ruins and City Smoke

By Charlie Martyn

Dark Edge Press, 2022

Genre: Fiction/Romance/Travel

Via: Zooloo’s Book Tours

Note: We received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

You might hear Winston Graham rippling through the pages of this light romance novel set in London and the lush countryside of Cornwall, stompin’ grounds of Ross Poldark.

Widower Tom Maynard owns the Wheal Neft (hi, Ross) Hotel in Cornwall. It’s a small, unique “bijou” hotel that caters to the rich and famous who yearn for sanctuary and privacy from prying eyes. Wheal Neft has also caught the eye of Owen Taylor, owner of the posh, upscale Carillion Hotel in London. His daughter, snooty Melanie Taylor, has been tasked to visit Wheal Neft and wangle a partnership deal.

Tom is less than thrilled at the prospect. To put it mildly. Mel has the personality of battery acid, with a caustic tongue to boot. Her haughty insolence doesn’t exactly sweeten the deal.

Meanwhile, Tom’s fourteen year-old daughter, Amy, decides her dad is lonely and needs a woman. She talks him into signing up at an online dating site. Hilarity ensues.

That’s not quite the case when Miss Prissy Pants, aka: HRH Melanie The Legend in Her Own Mind, arrives at Wheal Neft. It’s not long before Mel and Tom are going at it hammer and tong.

It’s not just a business, it’s a home.

Playing it Up

The author plays up the sophisticated urbanite snob vs. the unpretentious country rube angle to the hilt. Tom and Mel’s personalities don’t just “clash.” They orbit different galaxies. Both are strong, independent, and stubborn. It’s pretty evident when Tom, Mel, and Amy are tooling around in Tom’s car in search of ice cream.

The city vs. country clash is predictable, but effective. And funny. (What exactly is “cling film,” by the way? Are we talking saran wrap here? Other British-isms abound. But they’re not hard to figure out in context.)

Readers soon find out that there’s more to both characters than meets the eye. Incidentally, Aiden Turner shows up in chapter 13. Sort of.

Not all history is above ground.

The title is a bit cryptic. So give it time. It makes sense later.

Speaking of time, I almost gave up on this book. It starts out strong but sags a bit in the middle. Lost me on the whole booze it up thing. Like a character can’t deliver a single sentence of dialogue without a drink in his/her hand? Really?

But I persevered. Glad I did.

Crisp and Agile

Overall, the writing is solid and the characters are crisp and agile. The story regains its footing and picks up steam in the last eight or nine chapters-ish as a raging storm and flooding pummel Sennen Cove, Cornwall. A frantic search ensues as Tom and Mel race back from a wedding in London after receiving news that Amy and a friend are missing. They can’t be found anywhere. And their last known whereabouts is underwater.

But… it turns out that Wheal Neft has a few tricks up her sleeve, too. The last few chapters are nail-biters. So don’t go anywhere, okay?

Wait. Is that Demelza?

Our Rating: 3.5


Meet the Author

Charlie Martyn lives in Cornwall with his wife and four children. He has a Bachelor’s degree in English with Creative Writing and a Master’s degree in Professional writing, both received from Falmouth University. Adrian grew up in Cornwall, only spending seven years away while serving in the British army. The inspiration for his writing is drawn from the landscape of the magical county – from the desolate moors to the rugged coastline.

Charlie didn’t discover the real joy of reading until his late teenage years, devouring such authors as Andy McNab and Dean Koontz. Writing came later while on active service overseas, starting with bad poetry before turning his hand to the novel. Originally published in horror, Adrian accidentally discovered his enjoyment of writing romantic fiction while at university, and subsequently enrolled on the Romantic Novelists Association’s New Writer’s Scheme – an affiliation he would recommend to any new writer.

Follow him at:

Facebook :

Instagram :


Buy Links

Amazon UK –

Amazon US –




2 thoughts on “Light & Pol-dark in ‘Stone Ruins and City Smoke’

  1. Thank you so much for taking part in the tour and sharing your review x

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s