Quick plot summary: Maggie, bighearted, single and devoted to her beloved golden retriever Colonel, lives in the small Maine town of Gideon's Cove, runs a diner and is always willing to whip a huge meal for the church supper, firemen or other cause. Everyone has witnessed her romantic screw-ups and humiliations and her close network of family and friends often compares her to her perfect identical twin with a doctor husband and beautiful baby. This is the kind of town where everyone knows everything about everything you and your family ever did and everyone, especially her mother, can't let Maggie forget that she is still single at 32 and running out of townsmen and men from the not so nearby environs to date. When Maggie meets a seemingly perfect newcomer, she tells one too many people that she's found her soulmate leading to yet another humilation in front of the town when she finds out who he really is. She's so busy fixating on him that she fails to notice an unconventional but great guy that she has overlooked for years. Will Maggie ever find a soulmate? Is that the one man she can't have? Or is it taciturn and surly Malone, a friend of her brother who is so silent and unfriendly the town calls him Maloner the Loner? *********************************************
I loved this book. I thought Ms. Higgin's first book, Fools Rush In, was well-written and plotted but somehow did not do it for me. I think the ick-don't-go-there factor of the heroine hooking up with her ex-brother-in-law was the sticking point on an otherwise great book. I almost did not buy this book because I remembered being put-off by that plot point. What a mistake that would have been. I stayed up until 2 AM reading this book straight through. This book was almost perfect. It was funny, making me laugh out loud, moved me to tears (and actual choking sobs at one point), portrayed a charming (ala Marcia Evanick) but not too unrealistically cutesy (Sherryl Woods, I am looking at you!)tiny Maine lobstering town. The book has a wonderful, moving heroine with a first POV, which I normally hate with a passion but felt right here. She is strong but flawed, smart, sticks up for herself when it matters and has some funny screw-ups that seems like they could really happen to you or I. It's hard to find a good romantic comedy anymore. Authors usually try too hard with the wackiness, create characters too stupid to live or otherwise fall flat. This book's tone is spot-on. I love the dog, who is treated in a great way so that he supports but does not steal the book away; Maggie's family and friends, especially her twin are also well drawn.
My one complaint: the end feels rushed to the point I was anxiously checking the page count as I got near the end to make sure the book wasn't mising pages because so much was unresolved. I'm not sure by the end that a happily-ever-after had been fully earned and that the hero's, (Malone), behavior had been fully explained. Dare I hope this is because the author plans Book 2 and we will pick up with these characters again? Please say so. Malone is so uncommunicative and many of his actions so inexplicable that he essentially remains a maddening but intriguing enigma still by the last page. I would have like another couple chapters or a different climax to make us feel that this couple was going to be able to live together and communicate going forward. The author make the reader want everything to work out for them but I was left with a nagging feeling that no happily ever after was guaranteed for these two still. DO NOT let this stop you from buying the book, you will love it. Just consider this my plea to the author for book 2 for Maggie and Malone.