Thursday, June 9, 2022

Barbara Cool Lee - Honeymoon Cottage

Looking for a light and breezy, feel-good beach read? You've found it in Pajaro Bay.
Camilla Stewart desperately needs to make a fresh start: her despicable ex-fiancé stole her life savings, embezzled from her job, and then disappeared without a trace—leaving behind nothing but his eight-year-old son, Oliver.
But when she arrives in the little beach town of Pajaro Bay, she immediately runs into local sheriff's captain Ryan Knight, and finds escaping her past won't be as easy as she planned.
Because Ryan soon realizes that Camilla and little Oliver may be the only people alive who can identify a serial killer... and they are next on his hit list.

Comment: Two years ago I saw this book recommended on a site where people can know about book deals. This book was referenced as being free on some retailers and I was curious enough to get it. I ended up liking it well enough but I think it could have been so much better.

This is the story of Camilla Stewart, a young woman who was charged with theft because of her then fiance, who deceived her and let her be blamed. he also left her with his young son, Oliver. Now Camilla is at Pajaro Bay, a cute and cozy area in California, where she hopes to restore a house with the money from the ring she still had from the fiance. The people in the small town are mostly friendly but not the pawnshop owner, who calls the police, thinking Camilla was a criminal...the irony isn't lost on her but the cop showing up, Ryan Knight, actually understands the situation and lets her go. However, their paths cross many times, especially because it seems someone might want to cause her harm and Ryan starts connecting some weird dots on Camilla and Oliver's past and decides they need to be protected. Could it be this is the right place for them after all?

Again, I think this is one of those stories which has everything to work out well, both in terms of plot content and romantic possibilities. There are many elements which can please different readers, but I must say what I feel wasn't accomplished as well was how everything was placed together, making some moments of the story feel rather disjointed and over done.

The bones of this plot aren't bad and I was interested in seeing how Camilla and the little boy she is now talking care of would deal with a new place where everyone knows everyone while they wanted to keep their privacy and secrets. I think the small friendships and initial connections they make felt realistic and I would certainly assume someone who went through what Camilla faced would not be very trusting right away. I think her personality made sense, as well as he thoughts of leaving after restoring the house, so she and Oliver could find a life in a more impersonal big city.

Ryan Knight, the cop, is also facing a crossroads in his life. He has something rather tragic happening to him, which caused his ex to divorce him and he still feels guilty. He now reached a place where he believes only a change of scenery can turn his mood around and make him feel he can move on from his guilt, but meeting Camilla and realizing she carries as much issues as he does, but still found the power to move on, for the boy's sake, makes him feel a connection with her. He also starts connecting the dots on something he feels doesn't make much sense of what she shares, and he believes she might be in danger.

All these elements made for a calm, cozy reading, slow paced for certain, but with enough appeal to make me want to see what would happen next. We get to see how these two main characters go from being reserved and carrying secrets to becoming two people who slowly start trusting someone else and even though they don't see it, it becomes obvious they are meant to be together and staying in Parajo Bay. Going from one situation to a HEA was where I feel things failed.

Sadly for me, the characters aren't developed enough that I was truly satisfied with the choices they did. I also think their actions, while realistic, weren't really compelling and often I'd feel we only had a repetition of the same thoughts, of the same issues and no actual advance. Sometimes this can be internal, the characters realizing they had to move one on their own, sometimes propelled by an external situation but while here we have both things, none was done well. I don't think the characters were structured in such a unique way that I felt invested in them as individuals, only as how the overall HEA would work for them.

As the characters move along the plot and they start having feelings for one another, I expected things to become better, but the fact is these characters are not the larger than life type and the story turned into something banal. What interested me the most at this point was the apparent dissociation between the personality of the man who conned Camilla and the fact some women, victims of him as Camilla was, were killed. I confess what made me want to read until the end was to see how this would be explained... it was not a big twist but, psychologically, interesting enough.

Camilla and Ryan seem to end up together, as a potentially happy family, but the sense of community, so obviously a part of this series' aim, just wasn't convincing for me. This was a cute story but not marvelous.
Grade: 6/10

No comments:

Post a Comment