This is an utterly delightful, pure JAK at her best. AZ Snow is back with her conspiracy theories still going, the Bay community is full of the gossipy small town characters that made the first two so special, but in this one, she adds all the fire, passion, wit and humour that has made her famous.
Nick Harte (brother of the Harte sisters that married the Madison brothers) has returned to Eclipse Bay for the Summer with his son Carson, a miniture version of himself. Nursing a wounded heart, Nick is hesitant to get too close to any woman, but he cannot stay away from Octavia Brightwell - the neice of the woman that caused the Harte-Madison feud oh so many years ago.
Octavia runs the local art gallery, but her real reason for being there was to somehow fix the errors of the past created by her aunt, and see the Harte-Madison feud put to rest. Only by the time she has settled in the Bay, there two unexpected weddings in the Hart-Madison clan, uniting them once again, so her mission is moot and she feel at a drift, without purpose in her life.
She adores Carson, and is very attracted by Nick Harte, but is leary getting involved with him. The whole town knows two things about Hardhearted Harte - on the first date he gives women THE TALK saying there is no hope for a commitment, and that he never stays the full night with any woman. Octavia knows she could not stand having to face either of them, so she stays away from involvement with him.
Only, when a missing art piece worth a quarter of a million dollars is stolen from Octavia's gallery, and it falls to Nick to investigate - with Arizona Snow in charge - she cannot maintain that distance.
This is a funny, engaging book, that has some of the best lines like "Back in the big city, folks would probably say that Euqene and Dwayne are the products of dysfunctional families. But around here we just call them bums." Or "I did not come in here to argue with a woman with big hair" or when discussing the local hair saloon she says their styles were limited to "Very Big Hair and the Senior Citizen Helmet."
This is Jayne Ann at her peek form and all I can say is it's about time!!!
Fall in Love with JAK all over again in one of her best in years.
This time a stranger has come to town - Olivia Brightwell, who hides a secret purpose in opening an art gallery in the little seaside town. The older generation might have a suspicion about why she's in town. But Nick Harte's main worry is whether he'll spend the entire summer collecting rejections from the new girl in town, or whether his 5-year-old son Carson will blame him for messing up Carson's relationship with his friend Olivia.
Soon enough everyone's worried about other things, like Nick's love them and leave them reputation, a valuable missing painting, and whether or not Nick has given Olivia The Talk (a lecture about keeping things light that has become famous among the females of Eclipse Bay).
This book has all of Ms. Krentz's signature touches -- family ties, down-home atmosphere, a dash of mystery, and a couple who spends enough time worrying about what the other one might do that it takes a while to figure out that they're falling in love. Highly recommended.
The attraction is instantaneous, and though Octavia is hesistant to commit to any sort of relationship in her free-floating status, Nick eventually wears her down and the romance proceeds from there, aided by the mystery of a painting stolen from Octavia's gallery.
The romance element is enjoyable but not exceptional: Nick and Octavia are a pleasant couple that is driven more by chemistry and timing than complimentary personalities, and the plot relies more on romantic cliches than its predacessors. Ideas like "the talk" (of non-commitment) and the "curse" that prevents the hero from staying overnight weigh the plot down, and heavy handed pasts do little to lighten the mood.
So the novel's bouyancy is left to the mystery plot, which carries it nicely. Nick's career as a mystery writer leads to a sleuthing job that draws him head first into trouble and excitement, providing the energy that keeps the pages turning, while Octavia's dealings with the gossip circles in town provide many opportunities to laugh aloud. Rafe and Hannah from the first book return with a renewed vigor, but Gabe and Lillian from the second are noticeably absent.
In the end, however, it is the colorful and quirky townsfolk of Eclipse Bay who give this book its real charm. Old favorites return, bringing with them a delightful new contingent. It is when paired with these offbeat neighbors that Nick and Octavia shine; going toe to toe with the locals adds wit and humor where the romance itself lacks it.
All in all, only a somewhat stale romance keeps this book from a five-star rating. This book earns its place as a contender in the Eclipse bay trilogy with with and humor and wit. For those just picking up JAKs first trilogy, this may not be the place to start; but for those of us ready to fall in love not with Nick and Octavia, but with Eclipse Bay itself, this book is a skillfully crafted delight that rounds out the trilogy nicely.
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