The House on Blackberry Hill? I liked it but I didn't love it? I loved the first Donna Alward I read so I really want to love her full length novels. There are two more in the Jewell Cove series coming out in October- Christmas at Seashell Cottage and Treasure on Lilac Lane. Christmas was released first (on October 7th) and I read it first, but chronologically Treasure would come first. This doesn't impact the reading at all, very little happens to overlap, but I know some people will care.
Here's the summary of Christmas at Seashell Cottage:
It's Christmas in Jewell Cove...
And local doctor Charlie Yang finds her quiet, steady life disrupted by both an abandoned baby in the nativity manger, and a real-life mystery man. Sure, she's always wanted a family of her own, but she didn't imagine it coming from a baby that wasn't hers and a man who was more interested in living day by day than making long-term plans.
Ex-SEAL Dave Ricker hadn't planned on making Jewell Cove his forever home, but the talented and tender-hearted Charlie has him reconsidering his position on settling down. Can a beautiful woman, adorable baby and a small-town full of holiday spirit change his mind for good?
Hey! a baby! What's with all those babies anyway? Truthfully, the baby has little to do with this story and isn't an issue at all towards the romance. So Charlie decides she needs to be a bigger part of the community of Jewell Cove and volunteers at the city's nativity scene. As it turns out, so does Dave, the mystery man she's been spying on for months. Once they meet they are immediately smitten with each other, and do that weird thing of cuddling in public on their first non-date. (Seriously, authors, I believe this is the 3rd time I've read about a couple who just met cuddles at a Christmas caroling/tree lighting/town square hot chocolate gathering. No. It's just no plausible.) After a delightful evening of pretending they are alone in the middle of a small gossipy town, they head out to meet some friends at the local bar. As they pass the nativity they just set up, Dave spies a woman abandoning her newborn in the manger. This sets off a chain of events that has very little to do with the romance but does give the story something to hang on.
Charlie is a complete stereotype. Complete Type A, can't abandon her Plan, no throwing caution to the wind, an overwhelming NEED to do what mommy and daddy expected. She's already gone against them to become a small town doctor instead of a big city doctor, and there's just no way she can drop her upbringing to have fun and date around. Every date is a Potential Future. Dave is not looking for the future. He was a SEAL! He has ISSUES. He also has a small child with an old friend and while he's determined to make a future that involves her, he's not actually thinking about his own future beyond that. So there's really no way this can work from either perspective. And somehow by the end, it does, of course.
This is a strange follow up to The House on Blackberry Hill. The issues aren't super weighty, and it's nice and easy to read. There is also zero paranormal aspect to it like the ghost aspect to The House on Blackberry Hill. It's only very loosely connected to the other two (House and Treasure) and if you didn't know the names from the other books you'd never realize it wasn't a stand alone. My initial thought was that the Christmas aspect of it was taking the place of the rest, that just being about Christmas made it Special enough. I went on to read Treasure on Lilac Lane tho, and it's different yet again (more on that in that review.) Once again I enjoy the book, but I didn't love it. It's not going to stick with me in the future and Alward is still not a solid favorite.
Christmas at Seashell Cottage came out on October 7th.