A quick rundown…The initial book in a new series set in Cedar Cove, covering characters who have backstories that lead them to seek out a place to heal and recover.
Strengths: Easy to read, engaging and an ending to put a smile on your face
Weaknesses: I’d like a little more description; couple of typos in my copy
Why I read it: kindly sent to me by Random House Australia for review – thank you!
Publisher: Bantam/Random House
Setting: Cedar Cove, Washington State, USA
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
The cover of this book has a sticker on it stating that Debbie Macomber has sold 150 million books worldwide, so I’m ashamed to say that this is the first book of hers I’ve read! I was pleased to hear that this is the first book in a new series set in and around the Inn at Rose Harbor, Cedar Cove. (If you have read Macomber’s other books that were set in Cedar Cove, you may recognise a few characters I believe).
If I had to confine this review to just one word, it would be ‘nice’. It’s a nice story. The majority of characters are nice (or loosely fit that description by the end) and it’s just nice on the brain – not too taxing. But that kind of review would be boring – let me try to explain myself and my ‘nice’ definitions further.
The plot of The Inn at Rose Harbor is simple – Jo Marie is a new widow and her late husband’s life insurance has allowed her to buy a B&B in Cedar Cove. Jo Marie’s first two guests are Josh, a man who has come to his estranged dying stepfather’s side and Abby, attending a wedding after she fled Cedar Cove many years ago after an accident. All three of the main characters are hurting inside, but don’t worry, the book is not full of angst and pain. Macomber is an author who is very positive, focusing on the inner strengths of each character with a healthy dose of helpful supporting characters. It’s pleasant to see such simple gestures – such as a neighbour helping out Josh and his stepfather or Abby’s old friend welcoming her with open arms – arise in today’s increasingly selfish world.
The book is told from the first person viewpoint of Jo Marie and third person of Josh and Abby. The three main characters and their central plot of needing to heal post traumatising events are nicely linked together. Jo Marie is the common thread who pulls it all together via the setting of the B&B. It’s a clever background for a series of books and the reader learns about the next mysterious guests who look like they will be likely to play a role in the next book. While Josh and Abby’s dilemmas are solved, Jo Marie looks like she’ll have a continuing relationship with Mark Taylor (not the Australian cricket player) as well as other characters who I suspect were part of the Cedar Cove series.
What do I mean when I say this book is ‘nice’ for the brain? Basically, it’s not too taxing. It’s well written, but there’s not likely to be words that will have you racing for the dictionary. It’s easy to pick up and put down (as I did, before and after work) but could easily keep you entertained on a trip. The emotions the characters experience, while realistic, are not likely to have you crying uncontrollably in public but more likely to put a smile on your face. I think the main point of this book is that it’s realistic – these things can happen to anyone (perhaps with a little less drama) and are easily relatable to.
I did have a couple of bug bears with this book – initially the formula of a Jo Marie chapter, Josh chapter, Abby chapter and then repeat got me down. The order did change later in the book, which was refreshing. In addition, there were a couple of typos – on page 22, Michelle (Josh’s high school classmate) talks about stopping at her “parent’s house” – even though both her mom and dad live there. On page 62, Jo Marie wants “new brochures, business cards and stationary printed” – I would hope that the printer printing her stationery was stationary otherwise her stationery could turn out blurry!
Apart from that, this book was an enjoyable light read. If my nanna wasn’t really ill, I’d be running over to her place to tell her to read this book – she’d love the people and stories of Cedar Cove.