Misunderstandings and forgiveness seem to be the theme of Rose Harbor in Bloom. B&B owner Jo Marie Rose has a tiff with her friend and handyman, the taciturn and very private Mark Taylor, just as Jo Marie is facing several personal challenges of her own. The official celebration of the inn’s opening is coming up, and the rose garden Jo Marie envisions is nowhere near completed. More serious is that nearly a year after his death, her husband’s remains may have been located in Afghanistan, but one body is missing. Is it Paul? Could he still be alive?
Meanwhile, the inn is completely full for the long weekend. There are Kent and Julie, a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary — if they can stop bickering long enough. There’s Annie, their granddaughter, a party planner who has spent months getting every detail of their celebration perfect while trying to avoid her cheating ex-fiance. Oliver Sutton, Kent and Julie’s neighbor and a Annie’s childhood nemesis, drove the older couple up to Cedar Cove and is staying for the celebration, much to Annie’s dismay.
The rest of the rooms are filled with family and friends, with one exception. Mary Smith has returned to the West Coast for the first time in almost 20 years. Her high-powered career, indeed her entire life, has been overturned by a devastating diagnosis, and there’s someone she wants to see — if she can find the courage.
Like all of Macomber’s books, Rose Harbor in Bloom is a warm, compassionate, feel-good novel. The characters and their relationships take center stage, but some of the ambiance of Cedar Cove shines through. The inn itself seems to be a special place, a place where misunderstandings can be set right, relationships mended, and broken hearts set on the path to healing. Macomber doesn’t stoop to insta-love or unrealistically perfect endings; while every character’s story ends well, they don’t really end. In some cases, it’s more that the characters come to a beginning, or to a new resolution or resumption of what already existed.
That said, I did feel that one character was too quick to forgive two related and incredibly painful acts by another character. On the other hand, his forgiveness was consistent with the sort of person he was and with his feelings toward the other character, so it worked even though it felt a little too perfect. (Besides, we’ve all known people who are too slow to forgive, who hold a grudge too long; why shouldn’t the opposite be true occasionally as well?) That one flaw, and the predictability which is after all part of Debbie Macomber’s charm, are the only negatives I can point to in an otherwise enjoyable and comforting novel.
Rating: 3.5 stars
About the author: Debbie Macomber is the bestselling author of over 100 books. Most of her works are fiction — general fiction, romance, and women’s fiction — but she has also written two cookbooks, several books for children, and a number of inspirational nonfiction books. Her Cedar Cove series is now a Hallmark series for television, and one of her Mrs. Miracle books was filmed as a Christmas special.
Ms. Macomber lives in Port Orchard, Washington, with her husband Wayne. In addition to her writing, she is an avid knitter, owns both a tea room and a yarn store (the latter named A Good Yarn after the yarn shop in her Blossom Street novels), and serves on the National Advisory Cabinet for Guideposts. She’s also the official spokesperson for World Vision’s Knit for Kids program, and in partnership with Universal Yarns has issued her own line of yarns (called, appropriately, Blossom Street Yarn).
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Category: Women’s fiction; general fiction
Series: Rose Harbor #2 (related to the Cedar Cove series)
Release date: August 13, 2013
Book source: Review copy (ebook) from the publisher through NetGalley