I am a romantic at heart. I love a happy ending and a really good romance. Having it be set during the holidays just sweetens the deal for me.
JoAnn Ross is a new writer to me but it looks like she has written a number of romance series. This isn’t a book that I would normally pick up but I loved that it was set in the Pacific Northwest on the coast. I think the PacNW offers a unique setting for romances—-its a rugged, stormy, unpredictable, and unforgiving coastline so I thought that the setting would add to the story.
Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, Jolene Harper is forever indebted to the mother who encouraged her to fly—all the way to sunny LA and a world away from Honeymoon Harbor. Although Jolene vowed never to look back, returning home isn’t even a question when her mom faces a cancer scare. Which means running into Aiden Mannion all over town, the first boy she ever loved—and lost—and whom she can barely look in the eye.
Aiden’s black-sheep reputation may have diminished when he joined the marines, but everything he’s endured since has left him haunted. Back in Honeymoon Harbor to heal, he’s talked into the interim role of police chief, and the irony isn’t lost on the locals, least of all Aiden. But seeing Jolene after all these years is the unexpected breath of fresh air he’s been missing. He’s never forgotten her through all his tours, but he’s not sure anymore that he’s the man she deserves.
Despite the secret they left between them all those years ago, snow is starting to fall on their picturesque little town, making anything seem possible…maybe even a second chance at first love (summary from Goodreads).
I have mixed feelings about this book and the writing. The characters were your typical romantic cliches and that was fine by me. Jolene was a small town girl turned big time makeup artist and Aiden is a former bad boy who turned Marine/cop with a broken life and past. While they had a history, it was immediately apparent to the readers what that past entailed. I liked the classic cliche—I mean, sometimes romances aren’t known for their twisted plots. I got exactly what I hoped for on that front—-a classic and likable romantic story.
I found Aiden sexy and could easily love him and the hero. Jolene wasn’t my favorite, but let’s be honest if I’m reading a romance I’m there for the love interest/hero. I was satisfied with Aiden and the general plot of the story—especially the holiday parts. I felt like that added a lot in the way of extra romance.
What I took issue with was the writing. I felt like the writing was a little too relaxed and conversational—-plus I wasn’t really sure what this book was trying to be. Romance isn’t always the Pulitzer Prize so I get that it’s supposed to be more relaxed and easy reading……something you read by the fire on holiday in this particular case. But for me I just felt like I had read other holiday romances that I liked better when it came to writing. The story was more enjoyable in this one, but the writing was distracting. It just seemed to meander and there were too many times when the author had to explain things to the reader that weren’t necessary.
For example, early on when Jolene has learned about her mom’s lump, Jolene is talking about how much she owes to her mom and how everything has been so good for them but then the author jumps in and has to tell the reader ‘except for that lump’—-or something to that effect. For me I was like well—-dah. I don’t need to be told that. It was distracting and I felt like I was being told a story rather then experiencing a story if that makes sense.
The other issue I struggled with was the incorporating of too many different genres for lack of a better word. There was a paranormal element that I wasn’t expecting, of course the holiday part, a little talk of Catholic guilt which made me think of Christian fiction, and then there was the romance itself. I don’t know it just seemed like there was a little much going on for me. The paranormal part—for me—-was unnecessary. I think the story would have stood alone without it or having the friend be incorporated in a different way.
The book felt really long as well. It seemed really bogged down by too many explanations and too many words. I felt like I had been reading for such a long time and that I should have been further in the plot than I actually was.
While I struggled with this one and had a hard time with the mechanics, I did get exactly what I was hoping for. A romance that was heartwarming and tender. I love the whole ‘the one that got away’ troupe so that aspect of the story was fun for me and I was invested in the characters enough to finish the book, but on the whole this one was just ok for me.
- Review copy provided by: Publisher/Author in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own
- Recommendation: 3 out of 5
- Genre: contempo romance, romance, holiday romance
- Memorable lines/quotes