Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review of the Rose Harbor Inn Novels by Debbe Macomber

Introduction to the Rose Harbor Series


I'm a sucker for stories with a bit of romance that leave a lot to the imagination . I like watching people in complicated relationships work through their problems. I am drawn to beautiful settings. I especially like having protagonists I wouldn't mind inviting to sit around my own dinner table. The books I have read so far in the Cedar Cove Rose Harbor Inn Series are Book 1, The Inn at Rose Harbor, Book 2, Rose Harbor in Bloom, and Love Letters, Book 3These books by Debbie Macomber, all have the elements I mentioned above.



Reviews of Two Rose Harbor Inn Novels by Debbe Macomber



Meet Widow Jo Marie Rose, Innkeeper 


The Inn at Rose Harbor opens with Jo Marie Rose, recently widowed, introducing herself. She is still grieving over the loss of her husband Paul, who had gone down in a helicopter while serving in Afghanistan. She had purchased a bed and breakfast inn in Cedar Cove off the coast of Washington as sort of therapy to keep her busy and involved with life. She hired a handyman, Mark Taylor, on the recommendation of a friend, though she knew almost nothing about him, to help her make a sign and plant a rose garden. He turned out to be very competent in helping her make the necessary repairs, but he was gruff, often a bit rude, and never wanted to talk about himself or his past. 

Review of the Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber
Buy The Inn at Rose Harbor
In the The Inn at Rose Harbor, the first book in the Cedar Cove Rose Harbor Inn series, Jo Marie meets her first two guests. Neither wanted to be in Cedar Cove, but both felt obligated to be there and were dreading what they had to face. Both had grown up in Cedar Cove and left. Joshua was back to tend to his step-father who hated him but was about to die. A neighbor who had been looking in on him, Michelle, an old high school friendof Joshua's, had called to say he was needed to help get Richard, Joshua's step-father, signed up for Hospice. 

Richard resisted  help from anyone. Richard didn't even want Joshua to be there. Michelle had suggested she go with Joshua for his first visit or he might not even get it. Richard had kicked Joshua out of the house just before he had graduated from high school. He had been good to Joshua's mother, who had loved him, but she had died of cancer not long before Joshua left. He loved his own son, Dylan, but seemed to hate Joshua, with whom Dylan got along well. Richard had accused Joshua of stealing two hundred dollars from him, would not listen to Joshua's denials, and had kicked Joshua out. The one who really stole the money was Dylan. Dylan had later died in an accident. Richard had been alone ever since, seeming to hate everyone and everything. He started neglecting his house, and even the yard he had always cared for. Joshua dreaded the reunion, since he knew he would be unwelcome. Joshua was hoping he could retrieve some of his personal belongings he was not allowed to take when he had to move out, as well as his mother's Bible and some other parts of his family history before his mother married Richard. 

Abby was coming to Cedar Cove for her brother's wedding. She hadn't been back since she had left for college after a car accident had killed Abby's best friend, Angela. Abby had been driving. She blamed herself and believed everyone in town blamed her, too. Angela's parents had made it clear they hated her and had called her a murderer when she tried to see them after the accident. They had not even let her in. She dreaded seeing anyone she knew, and she hadn't even seen her parents much since they had moved to Arizona and she had moved to Florida when they began to feel rejected by the their friends in Cedar Cove. 

While her guests go about their business, Jo Marie is learning more about the town and meeting new friends, including the librarian,and the owner of the other bed and breakfast in town, who gives her some tips. She also lets readers know how she met her husband Paul, and how he died, and how he sometimes still seems to be right there with her. One of her new friends encourages her to adopt a dog from the shelter, and she comes home with Rover, who seems to have chosen her, and is a very different sort of dog than the one she had intended to bring home. 

By the end of The Inn at Rose Harbor, Jo Marie is feeling more secure about being an inn keeper and believes Paul approves. Mark is working on her sign and has promised to put in her rose garden in the spring. Rover has settled in. Joshua stays a couple of days longer than he had planned after Richard's death with the intent of getting to know Michelle better, and Abby had not only been welcomed by some old friends, but has picked up a relationship with a friend of her brother's she had dropped along with everyone else after the accident. 

The body of the book deals with all the details, heartaches, and steps to healing that took place, details which readers won't want to miss. It's not the end that's important, but all the action leading up to it. This book is the perfect preparation for reading Love Letters,the third book in the Cedar Cove Rose Harbor Inn Series. Each book can stand alone, since only the residents of the town, Jo Marie, and Mark, remain the same. The guests are always different so that the readers don't have to remember them from book to book. When I read Love Letters, I actually thought it was the first book and that The Inn at Rose Harbor was a prequel. That's why I read the third book first. Amazon set me straight, so this afternoon I got the second book, Rose Harbor in Bloom, I read it, and I enjoyed it as much as the others.

Love Letters



Review of Love Letters by Debbie Macomber
Buy Love Letters
At the beginning of Love Letters, Jo Marie introduces herself again, sharing some details that were not in the preceding book. She tells us about an old sweatshirt of Paul's she often wore for comfort, and a letter he had asked a friend to deliver in case anything ever happened to him. She had read the letter once, and put it away, since it made her miss him all the more.

It still bugs Jo Marie that she cannot find out even the simplest facts about Mark, even though it appears she found out a bit more in the first book than she seems to know in this one.  He tells her nothing in response to her many questions and beats a hasty retreat if she keeps asking   

As the book begins,Jo Marie is expecting two parties who made reservations, and she is mulling them over. The first, Ellie Reynolds, had made a reservation, then canceled it, and then rebooked. She wondered why Ellie seemed to be so indecisive. Maggie Porter, on the other hand, seemed wonderfully happy and appeared to be looking forward to celebrating an anniversary weekend.

Rover, Jo Marie's comfort dog, has by now, become Jo Marie's friend and constant companion. Rover always lets Jo Marie know when someone has arrived, and he gets along well with the guests, who often enjoy petting him. He and Mark also get along well.

Mark is in the process of building a gazebo, and Jo Marie worries that he will take his time about completing it as he did with the rose garden. She gets the feeling that Mark does as he pleases and that her jobs often seem to be last priority with him She is determined to find out more about his past and plans to drill him again next time she bakes cookies to bribe him with.

As the new guests arrive, Jo Marie learns that Ellie, who is happy to talk, is meeting Tom, someone she met on the internet and has been corresponding with, for the first time. She also learns that Ellie has a very controlling mother who texts her and calls every few minutes and who was against her meeting Tom. Ellie's father, whom she hardly remembers, left her mother, Virginia Reynolds, when Ellie was very young. It seems Virginia's parents thought he wasn't rich enough to marry Ellie, and they had already picked out someone else. Ellie has always wondered why her father never wrote to her or tried to see her. She believes he has abandoned his family, and Virginia has given her that impression.

When Maggie and Roy Porter arrive at the inn, Jo Marie can tell from the beginning that something is wrong. Roy seems angry and abrupt. Maggie apologizes for Roy's bad mood, saying he hadn't want to take the time off work to come. The reader learns the truth watching them talk in their room. They have come to try to save their marriage. A few months ago, Roy had been emotionally intimate with a sales rep for one of his suppliers and Maggie had found out. She was so upset she had left, gone to a bar, gotten drunk, and had a physical affair with a stranger who bolstered her wounded ego. Neither Roy nor Maggie can get past that.

Maggie has brought a love letter Roy had written her after she had first broken up with him when they were going together. She had learned he'd gone to a strip club with friends. It had crushed her and destroyed her trust in him, while he considered it just fun that didn't mean anything. Roy's letter had caused her to weep because she really did love Roy, and they got back together and eventually married.

This weekend at Rose Harbor Inn was the first time they had been away together since their two young sons had been born. As the book moves on, it appears Maggie and Roy may resolved their differences, until another complication appears that Roy seems not to be able to handle. It is the usually silent Mark, strangely enough, who turns the tide.

When Tom picks Ellie up, it appears the two are really connecting. Their first dinner date goes well, followed by a romantic walk on the beach. Tom has invited Ellie to go sailing with him the next morning, and he says after that he has a surprise for her, and in spite of her begging, he won't give her a clue as to what it is. Alert readers may pick up a few hints, but when the surprise is revealed, it completely shakes Ellie's world and she wants nothing more to do with Tom, whom she thinks had just used her. She is blaming herself for not listening to her mother.

Jo Marie and Rover provide a listening ear and comfort to both Ellie and Maggie. Then Virginia Reynolds appears to complete the party. Overall, it is a healing weekend, but you'll have to read the book to watch the characters put their lives back together. At the end, only one relationship has not resolved itself the way I would have liked.


My Recommendation


I recommend these books to anyone who likes well-written romances that could actually happen. The complications seem natural instead of contrived as they are in some novels. Instead of existing only in the character's minds, they are real obstacles in relationships instead of the “He or she could never love me because _________” variety, where a character has seen or heard something that plants a wrong idea. 

These books are free from steamy explicit scenes. They are about love and romance and genuine relationships rather than casual sexual encounters. 


I am eager to read the next books in the series, Silver Linings, and Sweet Tomorrows, which is brand new. I hope it will resolve the relationship that was left up in the air in Love Letters. If you're ready for the perfect romance to read on the beach or on the plane or when you just want to relax at home, order The Inn at Rose Harbor today. You won't be sorry. Better yet, get the five book series, now out in Kindle form.


Please share this review with anyone else you think might enjoy these books. There are sharing buttons just below this last photo, which is just the right size for Pinterest.











Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

8 comments:

  1. These sound like awesome books Barbara! I have read several books by Debbie Macomber but this this particular series. It is also good to know that it won't hurt if you read the series out of order. It is really hard to keep up with the proper order when you add a series to a kindle. While I still prefer book form, the Kindle is simply lighter weight and easier to carry, especially when I am away from home. Thank you for these excellent reviews. I always appreciate you recommendations.

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    1. I agree the Kindle is best in some situations, but I prefer reading actual books when I want to review them. It's easy to find the quotes and scenes I want to refer to.

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  2. I've read ~ and enjoyed ~ several books by Debbie Macomber, but not this Rose Harbor series. What a clever setting for a series, where the main characters remain the same, but the 'guests' change. Makes for an endearing series that can go on and on...

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    1. The author didn't want to confuse readers by making them have to remember too many characters. However, some of the guests do write to let Jo Marie know how their stories turned out after they got back home, so it still pays to read books in order when you can.

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  3. There is a Netflix series called Cedar Cove based on the books by Debbie Macomber. It is a fun series to watch and based on these books. Thanks for the book review.

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    1. I may look it up someday. I don't watch many movies. I seem to prefer the book versions, and they are quicker, since I can read at my own pace.

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  4. Had no idea there was a series on this too (from Mary Beth's comment above) - sounds very good, something I would enjoy as well. Terrific review.

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    1. I know I've read other books by Debbie Macomber with a similar setting, but this series is new to me. I think it also involved an Inn or B&B.

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