Friday, December 30, 2011

Guest Review - - Sanctuary Cove

Sanctuary Cove
By Rochelle Alers
Publisher: Grand Central/Forever
Release Date: January 1, 2012

Deborah Robinson retreats to Cavanaugh Island, off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, a few weeks after the death of her schoolteacher husband. Louis Robinson was accused of improper behavior with a student and died before his exoneration. Disgusted by condolences from people who were eager to condemn her husband, Deborah plans to sell her house and move with her two teenage children to the house her grandparents left her in Sanctuary Cove, a tiny town on the island. She finds the perfect spot to relocate her bookstore, finding comfort in a combination of people and places beloved from her childhood summers and the promise of a new life.

Dr. Asa Monroe is a snowbird, a tourist paying his first visit to the Carolina low country while he marks time waiting for an assignment from Doctors Without Borders. He gave up a prosperous practice after the deaths of his wife and son in an automobile accident. Asa found himself unable to continue with the life he had known before he lost his family, and he looks forward to work in a developing country giving new purpose to his life.

Deborah and Asa meet on the day she returns to the island to set things in motion for her move. From that first meeting, they are attracted to one another; friendship is added to attraction as they grow to know one another, and eventually they fall in love. But the relationship seems destined to be a temporary one since Deborah has found the place she belongs on Cavanaugh Island and Asa’s calling leads him far away.

Sanctuary Cove launches a new series for Alers, the first African-American author in Grand Central’s Forever line. Perhaps the detailed descriptions and the large cast of characters are a necessary part of the set up of a new series, but I grew weary of them. Since I’m a reader who likes description, I was surprised by my reaction. But when such careful attention is devoted to multiple meals and settings, the pace of a novel slows to a crawl. Given the already thin conflict, the slow pace seemed an even greater problem. I was also distracted by some confusing references and repetitions such as half a dozen forms of “slow” used in the first three or so pages. Since I read an ARC, I hope these flaws will be corrected in the edition released in January.

The community Alers creates is warmly and vividly drawn, and Deborah and Asa are, for the most part, interesting and sympathetic characters. I admit I was bothered by how quickly Deborah moves through her grief. Readers are told that she maintains control for her children’s sakes and sheds her tears in private, but her anger over the injustice her husband suffered seems stronger than her grief. She remembers that at Thanksgiving the family was together and Louis carved the turkey, but by New Year’s her interest in Asa is clear. I know there is no single timeline for recovering from the loss of a loved one, but that seems awfully fast for a woman widowed after eighteen years of marriage to be moving on. The fact that her feelings for Asa are stronger than anything she felt for her husband also bothered me. It’s a common tactic in romance with widowed characters, but it’s one that always bothers me.

The secondary characters are numerous. Some seem to serve little purpose other than to add local color. Others are strong additions to the story. Deborah’s children would have seemed more credible had they been a bit less perfect, but I appreciated the tightly knit family unit. And Deborah’s conversations with her best friends rang true. Since this was my first book by this author, I can’t compare Sanctuary Cove to her other books. I like small-town romances and gentle romances, and I found Cavanaugh Island interesting enough to try the next book in the series. I recommend it to readers who share my tastes with the noted caveats. Readers who prefer more heat and more action in their romances will probably want to skip this one.



  1. I have not read anything by Rochelle Alers. Thank you for the review.

  2. What a sweet story! I'm sure it will be a terrific read. I, too, am unfamiliar with Rochelle Alers but I do look forward to reading this book. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. This is an author I have not read yet but this sounds really good, will have to check these books out.

  4. Janga, I like small town stories some of the time. You know I love boom, but there are days I want a gentler reading experience.

  5. Thanks for the review. I like small town stories, but I also like action. This sounds like a book I would pick up when I am in a particular mood. I do hope the final copy smoothes out some of the problems you mentioned.

  6. Lovely review as usual; I really appreciate your honesty, Janga!
    I'm with you, however, I like my romance on the spicy side as well. There is so much on my TBR pile right now that I'll add this to my wish list for later.

  7. I saw this book at B&N and was going to get it but bought some other books first may still get it even tho you didn't care for it just to see if I will like it. I love small town stories.