Her Rescuer Rancher, I stumbled across House on Blackberry Hill by Donna Alward on NetGalley. This is Alward's first non-Harlequin and I was curious to see where she would go with it.
When a young woman inherits a rundown mansion, the last thing she expects to find is the key to her heart…
Abby Foster is a fish out of water in the Maine coastal town of Jewell Cove. The crumbling Foster estate, left to her by a relative she never even knew, has everyone’s eyes on her—an eerie reminder of the long-buried family secrets that have haunted her…forever. Single, stunning, and sometimes too strong-willed for her own good, Abby’s plan is to sell the house and hightail it back to Nova Scotia. But another part of her is intrigued by the idea of starting over somewhere new—and finally learning the truth about her heritage.
The House On Blackberry Hill
Enter Tom Arseneault. The best contractor in Jewell Cove, Tom is determined to restore the beauty and prestige of the Foster mansion—and maybe even work his charms on its beautiful new heir. The attraction between him and Abby is undeniable, and the more time Tom spends on the house the more he wants to be in it with her. But Abby’s not sure she can trust him—or anyone in Jewell Cove who seems to know more about her family history than she does. Home: Is it really where the heart is after all?
The Short Review:
I didn't love it, nor did I dislike it. Alward has a lot of potential in this market, but the book did have some flaws.
All the Deets:
First, the good. Jewell Cove (the series) has promise. I can see Alward becoming one of those authors who write small town series that I pick up for comfort (think Susan Mallery, Jill Shalvis, Nora Roberts). Everything about the plot itself is fairy well done. I love the house, I like the town, I like the historical mystery. I didn't find the haunted aspect to be cheesily done, or completely unbelievable. I enjoyed all of the secondary characters a great deal.
So what's the deal then? I didn't love the hero and heroine. Tom's backstory is well done. I understand him coming into the relationship with baggage, but it seems that it's written a bit to mislead you as to exactly what his problem is. Regardless of that, it unfolds slowly and evenly and is well paced. Abby also has unhappiness and trust issues in her past, but I find it hard to relate to her and it seemed a bit unnecessary. Honestly, Abby comes off a bit bland and uninteresting. It's really hard to see why Tom falls for her and the attraction is there on paper, but I didn't really feel it.
That said, this is Alward's first book for St. Martin's Press and I have high hopes that the next one in the series will improve on this. Obviously I have no real knowledge of publishing, but I would think the transition to another editor and style would take a little practice.
The House on Blackberry Hill will be out on April 29, 2014.