Reviewed by May
Owen Montgomery and his family are restoring an old inn, and in the process discover love, ghosts, and all of the details that go into such an epic project. This story opens as the restoration of the inn is finishing up and over the winter. The couple from the first book plan to get married (and you do see that in this book), and other town square projects and restorations are started.
Avery is the heroine – she runs her own casual Italian place called Vesta known for great pizza across the square. They have tie-ins with the inn and her restaurant, and everyone seems to eat at her place often.
While these two end up being the main characters of this story, I must first tell you that it took a while to sort it all out. The opening scenes are clunky, and filled with too much information and page space on restoring an inn. Characters are walking through the scenes that I think I would have recognized if I’d read the first book, but instead was both confusing and frustrating as a reader who just picked this book up.
Once I sorted out the cast of characters and the roles they play, things still didn’t ever make a turn for the better as pages went on, characters rambled and had a lot of deep thoughts to themselves, and generally speaking – nothing really happens. Here is a clip from a scene of Owen leaving his home and thinking to himself:
Time for a dog, he told himself. Time to seriously think about getting a dog. Maybe a lab-mix like his mother’s – or a faithful mutt like Ryder’s.
He promised himself a dog, but with the time and demands of the inn project, he’d postponed the idea.
Better to wait till spring, he considered as he started downstairs. Easier to house-train a puppy in warmer weather. Or maybe he’d rescue an older dog – if he could get half as lucky as Ry had with Dumbass.
He pulled his shop coat out of the closet, pulled on a ski cap, gloves, plucked his keys out of the dish by the door.
A guy needed a dog, he thought. That was what was missing in his life. A good dog.
Were these kinds of scenes to fill space? I really questioned if some of the repetition was simply to fill space and attempt to disguise the lack of an interesting story arc. This particular ‘I want a dog’ train of thought goes on for another page or so – and yet this guy never does get a dog. But he does pursue a girl he’s known his whole life, who made him her first boyfriend at about age 5. Avery is tiny, used to be a high school cheerleader, and loves Owen and his family like her own. Here is Owen watching Avery cook in her casual Italian restaurant:
The red hair, milk-white skin, and dash of freckles might declare her Scot heritage, but her marinara was as gloriously Italian as an Armani suit.
He’d often wondered where she’d gotten the knack, and the drive, but both seemed as innate a part of her as her big, bold, blue eyes.
The relationship building between Avery and Owen is an absolute joke. I won’t even bother getting into it because we have two characters that really like each other and know each other very well – they say “I love you” to each other very early on when discussing if they should try hooking up – then explore a physical relationship and over the course of the book decide if they’re also “in love” with each other. There is absolutely no reason why they hadn’t gotten together before, why it is happening now.
I really like Nora Roberts books, and normally I love the way she paints such vivid scenes with her words and sucks me right into her world and gets me totally engrossed. The problem with this book is that it’s a rambling look at finishing up and opening an Inn on a historic square in a small town. The only story here is how this fictional Inn seems to exactly mirror Nora’s own Inn down to the names of the rooms– and felt like an advertisement. What other reason would there be for giving us such minute details about the kind of wood and exact pattern of curtains used? To make the fact that the inn is very important and destined to be fabulous for guests more important than a romantic plot?
Moving on here, let’s talk about that ghost. They determine that the ghost (who was key to the climax of book #1, at least that’s what these characters mention multiple times) wants them to find her boyfriend/fiancé/lost love for her. They start looking, they figure out the name of this ghost, but I guess I’d have to read book #3 to find out if they find the guy she’s looking for. Based on a twist regarding the inn’s manager (whom is clearly set up to get with the last brother), I would bet that this plays a key part in the plot of the next book.
I hope that book has a plot. This – this was really terrible. Rambling and repetitive, slow and boring, overly descriptive everywhere except the bedroom – this is not the quality I think of when I say I’m a fan of Nora Roberts. She has written many exceptional books, and I’m sorry to say for me, this was not one of them.