Reviewed by Amanda Schafer

After her military husband, Paul, passed away while serving our country, Jo Marie Rose decided to take refuge in the small town of Cedar Cove. She decides to purchase an established bed-and-breakfast and rename it the Inn at Rose Harbor and plant a rose harbor where her guests can find peace and solace. While she knows nothing about running a B&B, Jo Marie prays that she can offer a place of healing while also gaining healing herself.

Jo Marie’s first guest is Josh who is very vague at first regarding his visit to Cedar Cove. Slowly, he tells Jo Marie that his step-dad, Richard, is dying and he came to settle the few remaining details that lingered between them. Richard is a cold and stubborn man, though, and refuses to be cooperative with Josh. Josh accepts the help of an old schoolmate, Michelle, who has been caring for Richard for months. But what Josh doesn’t expect is how his heart slowly softens toward Richard, regardless of how Richard treated him as a teen. Josh is also shocked at his feelings for Michelle and is determined to ignore those feelings because he knows that nothing can come from them.

The second guest at the Inn at Rose Harbor is Abby, who had grown up in Cedar Cove and hasn’t been back since graduation. Abby is terribly afraid that the people in Cedar Cove still remember her reason for leaving town and hold it against her. She holds it against herself so she figures they must hold her accountable as well. Nobody believed her all those years ago when she insisted that the accident that killed her best friend was just that, an accident. So many people assumed she’d been drinking or been careless, when in fact it was black ice that causes her to wreck. How will the people accept her when she shows up for her brother’s wedding? Can she truly find healing in the same town that causes the pain?

So many readers have fallen in love with Cedar Cove during Debbie Macomber’s books in the old Cedar Cove series. But that series had run its course, so Macomber decided to do another series in the same town with new characters, while weaving in many of the old favorites that we all love. She does this brilliantly! I kept waiting to see who was going to show up on the next page and how she would fit them into the new story. Believe me, it was a seamless transition. While I will miss the other characters and miss hearing more details of their lives, I can see how we will still stay connected through these new stories.

The format of the writing took me a while to adjust to in The Inn at Rose Harbor. In the chapters where we are with Jo Marie, the writing is in first person, but the other chapters (with Josh and Abby) are all in third person. As a reader, this was frustrating to go back and forth every third chapter. One other thing I struggled with in this story was the fact that Paul “communicated” with Jo Marie from the grave and encouraged her through her dreams. The friend of Abby’s also “spoke” to Abby when she visited the cemetery on the day of her brother’s wedding. I think that having this happen in a vague sense (as with Jo Marie) to one character in a book is one thing, but to have it happen with two characters is a little much for me. I know there are people who are fine with this and believe that it happens, but for the non-believers it seems a bit over-the-top to have it happen to two characters in the book. It almost distracts from the story.

Aside from these two factors, I still found the book entertaining and was excited to return to Cedar Cove and stay at the Inn at Rose Harbor.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Amanda lives in Missouri with her engineering husband, two sons, and one daughter. In between homeschooling and keeping up with church activities she loves to read Christian Fiction, Women’s Fiction, and any Chick-Lit. She never goes anywhere without a book to read!

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Ballantine Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.