Monday, April 13, 2015

Colleen Coble: The Inn at Ocean's Edge

By Kelly Bridgewater

From Amazon
Back Cover Copy:

A vacation to Sunset Cove was her way of celebrating and thanking her parents. After all, Claire Dellamore's childhood was like a fairytale. But with the help of Luke Elwell, Claire discovers that fairytale was really an elaborate lie . . .

The minute she steps inside the grand Inn at Ocean's Edge, Claire Dellamare knows something terrible happened there. She feels it in her bones. Her ensuing panic attack causes a scene, upsetting her parents.

Claire attempts to quiet her nerves with a walk on the beach, to no avail. She's at too great a distance to make out details, but she believes she witnesses a murder on a nearby cliff. When local police find no evidence of foul play, they quickly write off the "nervous" woman's testimony as less than credible.

But Luke Elwell, home on leave from the Coast Guard, has reason to believe Claire. Years ago when his mother went missing, Luke's father suspected she'd been murdered. He died never having convinced the police to investigate. So when an employee of the grand hotel doesn't show up for work, Luke steps in to help Claire track down the missing woman.

As Claire and Luke put together the pieces of a decades-old mystery, they discover that some family secrets refuse to stay buried. And some passions are worth killing for.

My Thoughts:

Romantic suspense is my genre of choice. I prefer to read it along with mysteries, suspense, and thrillers. I have read a number of Colleen Coble’s contemporary and historical romantic suspense and have loved them all. Like a romantic suspense, Coble’s books are mysterious, filled with great characters, and unique settings. I really could not wait to dive into Colleen Coble’s latest The Inn at Ocean’s Edge.

The first thing to grab my attention is the opening scene where Claire Dellamare, the heroine, follows her father to Hotel Tourmaline in Maine to settle a merger between two aviation companies. Once inside the hotel lobby, Claire’s eyes travels to the nearby forest, inciting a panic attack. As a reader, I wondered why the woods would have such a firm impact on Claire. From that moment on, the mystery takes the reader away and is filled with many twists and turns. Coble does a good job at delivering exactly what suspense and mystery readers loves, bringing them back to the familiar genre over and over. Just when I think I have the mystery figured out, Coble threw me for another loop, which threw my suspicions out of the water.

Coble’s writing enhances the story. As a fan of Coble’s author’s page on Facebook, I have seen her take a number of trips to the Maine coastline, which is evident in how she describes the setting in the story. The waves crashing into the rocks and sand made me feel like I was there. The shingle and clapboard cottages mingled with the aroma of fudge and candles sparked me to inhale deeply, even though there was no fudge nearby. Like a good mystery, Coble weaves in a good amount of prose with the dialogue to understand how the characters feel.

As for the characters, I really did not feel any connection to Claire Dellamare and Luke Bocco. For Claire, she seemed to be the typical damsel-in-distress. She was weak, always fainting, and had money. Even though she did want to know why she was afraid of the forest and wanted to know the truth about the year she was missing, Claire depended on Luke to do all the work for her. On the other hand, Luke was not a hero that I could have rooted for. He gave up his dream to be a part of the Coast Guard, so he could take care of his stroke-ridden father and their cranberry fields. Luke is a hero in Claire’s eyes because they have the same interest in the ocean and he rescues her a lot, but I felt they really had no connection or depth to their budding relationship. To redeem herself from these superficial characters, Coble throws a twist in by adding a third point of view character. Kate Mason. Now she was my favorite. Kate was determined, smart, and resourceful. She wanted an answer to a question that has been bothering her for the past seventeen years, and Kate did everything in her power to find the answer.

True to the romantic suspense genre, there are two types of tension in the story. Coble uses the external conflicts to drive the story along. The mystery is good and kept me on my toes, wanting to know what happened to Claire in the year she went missing and how Kate and Luke’s mother fit into the puzzle. As for the spiritual tension, none of the characters really changed and grew personally or spiritually. God was mentioned a couple of times in pieces, but it is not important or detracts from the dilemmas. But on the other hand, the romantic tension between Claire and Luke is incredibly cheesy. There was no conflict to keep them apart, bringing no depth to the plot. I think the story would have been just better as a cozy mystery. The romance was practically non-existent.

The Inn at Ocean’s Edge is an original idea and an unpredictable mystery, which will appeal to readers of all ages. Conservative parents should be prepared to talk about a near assault in the book, but it didn’t happen, and I think Coble wrote the assault for the merger aspect to move to the wayside. If you’re a fan of Coble’s romantic suspense, I believe you’ll still like the mystery part, but the romance made me cringe.

Overall, Colleen Coble’s latest book, The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, takes place in a scenic coastal town in Maine while the page-turning mystery filled with twists and turns begs to keep the reader up at night while the romance detracts from the story, not enhances it.

I received a complimentary copy of The Inn at Ocean's Edge and the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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