Book Review by Janet Webb, The Inn at Rose Harbor

Book Review by Janet Webb, The Inn at Rose Harbor
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Debbie Macomber always writes a story that keeps on giving – I really enjoyed Janet’s post & hope you do to. Happy Reading!!

Whew, at last it’s September, and life can get back into a regular routine. Time to crack open the covers of new books by favorite authors. High on my list of tried and true authors is Debbie Macomber because she takes me to a very familiar place, a guaranteed escape for a few hours. As she says on her website, “Wherever you are, Debbie takes you home …”.

Home for many Macomber fans for the last few years has been Cedar Cove, a fictional community based on Macomber’s real life home of Port Orchard, Washington. When Macomber announced that last December’s annual Cedar Cove Christmas 2011 book was the end of the road, I wasdebbie macomber pretty disappointed. I gather I was not the only one. In Debbie’s own words, “I got the message. You love Cedar Cove and you didn’t want to leave the characters behind. All ten thousand of them … As an author I listen to my readers … So I came up with a compromise. My new series involves a wonderful bed-and-breakfast set in Cedar Cove.”

So yes, in case you’re wondering, some of the Cedar Cove characters make an appearance, when it’s appropriate and fits into the new series. The heroine and proprietor of The Inn at Rose Harbor is Jo Marie Rose, a widow looking for a fresh start. She hadn’t been married long when her husband Paul Rose was killed in Afghanistan. The bed and breakfast is not only a place of healing for her but her guests also have personal and poignant reasons for coming to Cedar Cove. Unlike the Cedar Cove series, this time the guests’ stories conclude at the end of the book but Jo Marie, and Mark, an enigmatic neighborhood jack-of-all-trades and former military man, have a burgeoning relationship that is very intriguing. I definitely want to find out more about their tentative and edgy friendship.

So what’s appealing about Jo Marie and the guests at her B&B? Stories of women at a crossroads in their lives are always interesting, especially when life has dealt them a bitter blow. Jo Marie has the financial resources to make a fresh start and Cedar Cove is a welcoming port in the storm but seeing her put one foot in front of another is still heartening. She is a born home-maker and even in her pain, she takes pleasure in providing a warm cozy refuge for travelers. There are some mystical, “woowoo” elements that add another level of complexity to the story – Jo Marie’s late husband visits her in dreams a few times, inn guest Abby “converses” with her dead best friend and the other guest, Josh, who returns because his step-father, with whom he has a very hostile relationship, is near death, vividly recalls scenes from his childhood. Themes of reconciliation, forgiveness, death and rebirth and honoring one’s past are woven into the plot, not unpleasantly but very straightforwardly. Both Abby and Josh have the joy of not only confronting and conquering their pasts, but finding past – and future — loves in that journey.

Macomber is famous for writing stories that acknowledge the complexity of modern life and The Inn at Rose Harbor is in that mold. Other touches longtime Macomber readers have come to love – delicious meals that are prepared with love, knitting as a refuge and a calming experience, the balm of friendly neighbors and last but not least, the joy of a shelter dog that chooses his new owner. How I look forward to more scenes with Rover. When Jo Marie meets Rover, a bedraggled “scraggly looking pooch”, she remembers that Paul’s dog had also been named Rover. A wise Macomber reader knows that there are no coincidences!

I recommend The Inn at Rose Harbor highly. As much as I enjoyed the Cedar Cove stories, it’s great to know that whatever brings Jo Marie’s guests to her B&B, they will leave her comfortable home with their hearts at ease and their problems on their way to being solved. That leaves me to wonder what Macomber has in store for Jo Marie’s happily-ever-after. I’ll be reading the next book in the series … and the one after that and …

What is your favorite Debbie Macomber story, old or new & why is it?

Thanks for blogging,
Janet Webb
Freelance reviewer

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