This was actually a buddy read with a friend of mine. We both adored the Cedar Cove books and we have been less than thrilled with the newest offerings by Macomber. When she found out the Rose Harbor books take place in Cedar Cove we were pretty excited. Though I was cautious enough to borrow this thing from the library because I have been burned too many times lately by reading her latest works.
My friends summary of this book was this:
"I don't understand why Macomber revisited Cedar Cove if she was going to take all of the charm out of the book. I loved this series until the last couple of books since it started to read like a recipe after a while. You take one man, one woman, have them either fall in love, or have marriage relationship problems, have another couple included to set up next book in series, have reappearances by favorites in the series, have people go and have food at the Pancake House, and then the end. I love romance books and I have all of the Cedar Cove books in paperback. I was not as disappointed as you were with the end of the series, but did feel letdown a little bit. I was so happy to run out and buy this one, I wish I had just gotten it from the library or something.
I think this book was setup so oddly. I didn't realize until we spoke about it, but the first person and switch to two other characters in the third person was what kept messing me up while reading. Also I felt like Jo Marie was barely in this story, though it should have been her story. A widowed woman moving to Cedar Cove and having to start over again was enough for me to read about. I don't get why she divided this book into three separate stories, though like you said, she always had multiple plots going on in the Cedar Cove books. Oh and just like you I really hated Josh's storyline. And the whole ghosts or people from beyond influencing things just didn't work. I started to get really annoyed even when we saw people we loved like Olivia and Grace. I think I will read book #2, but if that one is set-up like this, going to skip the rest of the series."
I should just say see above, because most of my friend's points were mine as well. Cedar Cove was dumped unceremoniously by Macomber. It was not until someone commented on my review on Amazon for the last book that I even found out that there would be no more books. I was bummed out and really disappointed by it since the book did not really hang together well. Revisiting Cedar Cove seemed like a good idea to me since I have not been enamored with Macomber's stand alones or other series books. And even ones that have improved like Blossom Street series, often have a couple of misses.
This book looks at three people who come to Cedar Cove for different reasons. Jo Marie, Josh, and Abby. Except for Jo Marie, Josh and Abby both used to live in Cedar Cove and then moved away due to different circumstances.
Jo Marie relocates from Seattle after the death of her husband in the military. Jo Marie quits her job at a bank to run a B & B. You don't really get a good idea of why Jo Marie does this besides needing to move on. You only get tidbits here and there that Jo Marie even knows and likes to bake and cook. I think I was confused throughout regarding Jo Marie's understanding of how to run her business since one character visits Jo Marie (Peggy Beldon from Cedar Cove, 44 Cranberry Point) and mentions things she should be doing like getting a food handling license. That seemed pretty important to me and I had to wonder then how the heck Jo Marie was allowed to cook for her guest if she did not have a license to do so.
Josh is called home to take care of his dying stepfather by his former neighbor and classmate Michelle. Josh does construction and tends to move all over, but his base is in California. We find out Josh has not been back in Cedar Cove since the accidental death of his stepbrother. He and his stepfather have a lot of animosity between them and I felt for Josh through this whole book. I thought he really got the short end of the stick through this book because Josh was dealing with being verbally abused and thrown out of his home and not allowed to take a thing with him when he was a teenager after his mom died. Michelle and her pointless platitudes started to work on my nerves. Forgiving someone is one thing, but Michelle seemed to want Josh to get over everything his stepfather did. And the whitewashing of the character after the fact was meh inducing to me.
Abby has not been home since a tragedy occurred when she was in college. It takes forever to even find out what is going on with Abby or what happened. I liked this character the best while reading. Though I will say again that Macomber rushing the ending with her and having once again an implausible forgiveness moment just didn't work.
The secondary characters development was hit or miss. I didn't care for Michelle at all. And her hero worship of Josh or her need to try to have him forgive his stepfather was just aggravating. She is a social worker so I would assume the character had seen a lot of issues here and there. But having her as love interest and sounding board to Josh didn't work. I mean there was one point where Josh's stepfather demand she choose who she is going to be friends with him or Josh.
Abby's family was done very well and I would have enjoyed more of the story if we stayed with them.
Jo Marie felt like a blank slate. We hear about her family and friends in an abstract way. Most of the book was talking about her dead husband and her bristling (her words) anytime she comes into contact with a handyman she hires to do work at the inn. Through Jo Marie we are reintroduced into old characters such as Olivia and Grace. But they all felt so empty in this series. Getting such a shallow look at them bugged me.
The writing did not work and that was because we went from first person to third person to third person. I don't get why Macomber did this and it was jarring to read each and every time. If you are going to have the book set up with three people than have them all tell the story in the same tense.
The flow did not work, but honestly I think that's because Macomber was reaching for things to talk about in this one. If she had stayed focused on one story it probably would have worked better.
The setting of Cedar Cove feels different in this one. Macomber gets pretty repetitive describing the town layout, the cove, the Navy that is nearby, etc. I always had the feeling it was much bigger. But reading it in this different light it feels teeny tiny to me.
The ending was kind of a mess. This book was more religious than I am used to in Macomber books. I assume the whole storyline involving Jo Marie and her ex is going to play out in the other books so I think I am just going to skip it. Goodbye for good Cedar Cove.