Author: Donna Alward
Series: Jewell Cove #1
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: April 29, 2014
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
When a young woman inherits a rundown mansion, the last thing she expects to find is the key to her heart…
Abby Foster is a fish out of water in the Maine coastal town of Jewell Cove. The crumbling Foster estate, left to her by a relative she never even knew, has everyone’s eyes on her—an eerie reminder of the long-buried family secrets that have haunted her…forever. Single, stunning, and sometimes too strong-willed for her own good, Abby’s plan is to sell the house and hightail it back to Nova Scotia. But another part of her is intrigued by the idea of starting over somewhere new—and finally learning the truth about her heritage.
Enter Tom Arseneault. The best contractor in Jewell Cove, Tom is determined to restore the beauty and prestige of the Foster mansion—and maybe even work his charms on its beautiful new heir. The attraction between him and Abby is undeniable, and the more time Tom spends on the house the more he wants to be in it with her. But Abby’s not sure she can trust him—or anyone in Jewell Cove who seems to know more about her family history than she does. Home: Is it really where the heart is after all?
Well, wasn’t this nice! Okay, confession time: I pretty much knew I wanted to read The House on Blackberry Hill when I saw the cover because it gave off such sweet vibe, but when I saw the setting, I knew I had to read it. I honestly didn’t even read the whole blurb, nor have I yet. Good thing it turned out to be a worthwhile gamble.
Abby & Tom – We get both POVs. I liked her, I really liked her! She’s independent and feisty, which is always a good thing in my eyes. She has commitment issues, but there is quite a bit of growth from her throughout the book. And Tom – this guy is a sweetheart! He a contractor with his own company, who has a serious love for older homes, especially Abby’s mansion. He’s wrestling is own demons of loss and guilt that he had to work through. I loved how Abby confided in him about everything she discovered, and how he was so supportive.
Romance – Both Tom and Abby have some issues when it comes to the romance department, and when these two meet, it doesn’t exactly start off on a good note. While they were attracted to each other, they had to work through their own hang-ups before they were able to move forward together. It wasn’t necessarily a burning hot love fest between these two; it was mostly fun and sweet, on the tame side. When they got along, that it.
Setting – A small seaside town in Maine? I’m all for that. Dork alert: Ever since I did my state report on Maine when I was in the 5th grade, I’ve had a soft spot for it. So after California, Maine is my second favorite state to have a story take place in. Besides the Maine connection though, I also loved the small town setting where everyone knows everyone, and how they are a close-knit community. It’s the type that has a lot of history, where the family of the founders still reside. I just really like the feel of it.
Secondary characters – Most of them are Tom’s family, but there were a couple of old timers who helped Abby get to know her family and the history through stories. I enjoyed how involved and close Tom’s family is though, especially his cousin Jess. I could tell she was probably going to be the focus of the next book in the series, and it looks like I’m right. As usual. 😉 Seriously though, I liked how they welcomed Abby in and did a little meddling between her and Tom – in a good way. Also, Tom’s cousin Josh plays a somewhat pivotal role in the story, so I’m glad we get his POV, even though it’s only twice. The author made a good call by doing that. Don’t worry, it’s not a love-triangle with Abby.
Mystery – Abby never even knew about this side of the family until the great-aunt she never knew existed left her a mansion and an obscene amount of money. She initially wants to sell it and have nothing more to do with the house, but she starts digging into the family history and wants to know why her grandmother never mentioned a sister or anyone else. She becomes determined to learn about the family and uncover the secrets that the old mansion holds. The author did a really good job with this. There’s also a … slight paranormal aspect to it. By no means would I categorize this book as paranormal, but there is a little something.
So overall, I liked The House on Blackberry Hill. It was a nice solid read, and I look forward to the next book in the Jewell Cove series.