Berkley Sensation, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-425-24149-3
Contemporary Romance, 2011
Summer at Seaside Cove is the first book in a projected series set in a wonderful seaside town called, imaginatively, Seaside Cove. In this one, we have Jamie Newman heading to this place to get away from her family. You see, she used to help run the family restaurant, but since she found out that her sister was seeing Jamie’s man behind Jamie’s back. it drives home into Jamie’s mind just how much she had unquestioningly taken care of every single member of her family without much regard to her own needs and well-being. Maybe this trip will help her decompress, forget her problems if only for a while, and get her groove back. However, she soon realizes that the “Taj Mahal” she rented is actually a neglected bungalow. The only great thing about it is the view. She has been ripped off by the online website where she rented this place! Fortunately, Nick Trent, the owner of that bungalow, turns out to be a great handyman who could very well help fix up her broken heart.
After an initial rather contrived start where the author tries too hard to have Nick behave like a drunkard who comes on too strong (or, in romance genre terms, a desirable hunk), the two main characters eventually settle into a cozy kind of chemistry where they click really well together. It’s cute, actually, how the two of them are horrified when they realize that they may be feeling each other too much for their relationship to be a mere summer fling. Alas, there is hardly any sustainable conflict to keep the story going for as long as it is, so later in the story, the author will throw in some rather implausible drama. If you have read the synopsis in the back cover, well, I’m sorry but I’m talking about the developments described there so yes, the back cover has spoiled the whole story for you.
The lack of conflict aside, the predictability of the story also works against it. There is nothing particularly bad about this story – in fact, the romance is fun to follow and the characters are pretty likable – but this is also one story that I have come across in so many variations before. Sunset Beach, Paradise Bay, Seashell Harbor… everything here has been been done many times before in so many “beach town” stories in the past. With very little to make Summer at Seaside Cove stand out from the rest, this story becomes… forgettable as well.
This book, therefore, is a solid and adequate read, but once it is out of sight, it’s also going to be out of mind. What’s the name of that town again? Sunrise Bay?