Review

Tidewater Inn: The Hope Beach Series, Book 1

by Colleen Coble

Libby Holladay owns her own business in Virginia Beach, restoring historical properties. While she handles the restoration, Nicole, her best friend and business partner, takes care of the financial end of things. The success Libby has enjoyed --- and the strength it has taken to achieve it --- probably has a lot to do with the hardships she has endured throughout her lifetime. She was raised by an eccentric single mom who always had a different man in her life and swept Libby away on travel adventures that may have been fun, but lacked the stability for which she longed. Libby had to grow up quickly and spent much of her time playing “mother” to her own mom. When the book opens, her mother has been dead for a year, and the only family Libby has left is an indignant stepbrother.

Or so she thought.

"TIDEWATER INN features compelling characters, a beautiful setting and rich historical detail. As for the suspense, author Colleen Coble does her usual thing. She mixes action, fast-paced dialogue and an exciting plotline, with a few surprises along the way."

Imagine Libby’s surprise when her business partner calls from Outer Banks, North Carolina, to inform her that not only has she found a beautiful inn to renovate, but that the property --- worth millions --- now belongs to Libby. Nicole goes on to explain that the Tidewater Inn was owned by Libby’s father, who recently passed away. Libby’s mother had told her that he had died when she was five years old. And more than that, Libby has a half-brother and sister she never knew she had. She is shocked and ecstatic at the same time, very eager to meet her new family.

Nicole is calling from the lighthouse ruins at Hope Beach, getting ready for a meeting with Libby’s half-sister Vanessa about the sale. Nicole tells Libby that she will send her a link to a webcam so Libby can get a glimpse of her sister before they eventually meet face-to-face. Libby logs on and sees Nicole through the cam, waiting for Vanessa to show up. But before she does, two men appear, inject Nicole with a needle, and take her away in a boat. Horrified, Libby watches as her friend is abducted. She tries to save the link to her computer to show the police, but somehow ends up deleting the file. So much for the evidence.

When she arrives in North Carolina to speak with the police, Libby quickly realizes that she is a suspect in the kidnapping. She is also introduced to her new family and is devastated to learn that her brother and sister want nothing to do with her. They make it no secret that they don’t trust her, and intend to keep Tidewater Inn for themselves, no matter the cost.

The one glimmer of light in Libby’s nightmare is Coast Guard lieutenant Alec Bourne, who makes her heart beat faster and seems to believe in Libby’s innocence. Now if only she can convince the rest of them.

TIDEWATER INN features compelling characters, a beautiful setting and rich historical detail. As for the suspense, author Colleen Coble does her usual thing. She mixes action, fast-paced dialogue and an exciting plotline, with a few surprises along the way. In this case, she most relies on hurricane season, murder and greed to do it. The conflict between Libby and her siblings is also well-done and provides for a more multifaceted story. For those who have read her Rock Harbor series, you’re in for a treat, as Bree and her search dog Samson make an appearance and play a vital part in solving the crime.

The budding romance between Libby and Alec is enjoyable, and Alec’s strong faith makes it even better. My favorite character in the book is Pearl, Libby’s aunt, who offers Libby a bounty of wisdom and the unconditional love she craves. According to the reading group guide questions at the end of the book, this warm, robust and spiritually-sound woman is based on Coble’s grandmother.

Once you’ve taken the first virtual trip to Hope Beach, chances are you’ll be eager to return. You can do just that in July 2013, when ROSEMARY COTTAGE, the second book in the series, hits the shelves.

Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on October 18, 2012

Tidewater Inn: The Hope Beach Series, Book 1
by Colleen Coble