Rose Harbor in Bloom
By Debbie Macomber
Publisher: Random House/Ballantine
Release: August 13, 2013
Debbie Macomber carries readers back to Rose Harbor Inn for the second book that combines new characters, including the inn’s owner, Jo Marie Rose, with a familiar setting, Cedar Cove, and occasional appearances by beloved characters from the original Cedar Cove series. The widowed Jo Marie, although still grieving for her husband Paul, who was killed in Afghanistan, is finding peace and a new sense of purpose in welcoming guests to her inn. She feels a real sense of satisfaction in setting in place the just-finished sign that announces the inn’s new name and Jo Marie as proprietor.
She is less satisfied with the state of her rose garden, which she had hoped to have ready by the time she held an open house to introduce Rose Harbor Inn to the Cedar Cove community, but she has learned that curmudgeonly handyman Mark Taylor moves at his own pace, even though it is considerably slower than Jo Marie likes. With all the inn’s rooms booked for guests who will soon be arriving and the open house scheduled for Sunday, Jo Marie doesn’t have much time to worry when Mark quits when they have an argument.
The first of her guests to arrive is Mary Smith, a businesswoman from New York, whose clear exhaustion and the scarf covering her hair loss identify her as a cancer patient. Mary left the Seattle area nineteen years ago, and without her brush with mortality, she might never have returned. She made the trip against the advice of her oncologist, but she feels a compelling need to reconnect with her past, a part of that past is in Cedar Cove and a part of it is still in Seattle.
Most of Jo Marie’s guests are in Cedar Cove to celebrate the fiftieth wedding anniversary of Julie and Kent Shivers. The Shivers’s granddaughter, party planner Annie Newton, is the family member charged with managing the details of the celebration. Annie, who is recovering from a broken engagement to a man who proved to be self-absorbed and unfaithful, finds it comforting to plan this celebration for her grandparents who have been in love for half a century. But the couple who has always seemed the essence of marital happiness to Annie seems more interested in bickering and sniping at each other than in celebrating their five decades of marriage. As if that were not disturbing enough, there is also the presence of Oliver Sutton, her grandparents’ neighbor, the bane of her existence when they were growing up. Oliver is eager for a cease fire to their hostilities, but Annie can’t forget the past.
The necessity of coming to terms with one’s past is the theme that connects all the stories in this novel. Mary must forgive herself and accept the things that cannot be changed and own the courage to embrace the joy that life still offers. Annie must forgive youthful folly and see Oliver with new eyes, recognizing that he is not the tormenter of her young years or the fiancé who betrayed her. Even Jo Marie proves to have issues with the past and with her acceptance of Paul’s death.
As always Debbie Macomber gives her readers characters who stumble and make mistakes but who learn to forgive, to love, and eventually to acquire the grace to accept life’s bounty with open hands and grateful hearts. Macomber’s readers can trust her to bring more such characters to Rose Harbor Inn to heal and to grow. Jo Marie’s story will continue to develop, the mysteries of Mark Taylor will slowly unravel, and Cedar Cove will continue to offer readers a place where peace is possible and even strangers find it feels like home.
If you require high-pressure adventure, sizzling sexy scenes, or intellectual puzzles in all you read, Debbie Macomber is not the author for you. On the other hand, if you enjoy a heartwarming, comfortable world where community is real, where people actively care for one another, and where kisses supply all the sexual passion, Debbie Macomber is among the best at creating such a world. I read all thirteen Cedar Cove books, and I, for one, am glad the Rose Harbor series allows me to return to the Cedar Cove world. I look forward to the next book in the Rose Harbor series. In the meantime, I’ll be watching Hallmark’s Cedar Cove TV series, and I almost never watch TV.
Are you a Debbie Macomber fan? What’s your favorite Macomber book? Have you watched the Cedar Cove TV series?