Amy Lange’s brother, Ben, disappeared while surfing a few months ago. His board was recovered, bearing a giant bite mark, and everyone assumes he was the victim of a shark attack. His body was never found. Amy returns to her childhood cottage on Hope Island to take time to mourn her brother, as well as decide whether to start a midwife practice for the Outer Banks community. She also senses that something isn’t quite right about Ben’s disappearance and wants to do a little private investigating.
Coast Guard Officer Curtis Ireland is also grieving. His sister, Gina, was killed in a hit-and-run boating accident not long before Ben’s disappearance. Now Curtis is left to raise his infant niece, Raine, on his own. It’s quickly revealed that before her death, Gina told Curtis that Raine’s father was none other than Ben Lange. Because Curtis loves his niece and is determined to hold on to her, he keeps that fact to himself for fear that Ben’s parents would try to gain custody if they knew the truth.
"Overall, ROSEMARY COTTAGE offers an entertaining plot with a balanced flow and clever execution.... It’s an engaging read, with the suspense and romance bestselling author Colleen Coble is known for."
From the moment Curtis and Amy meet, they are drawn to each other, but they resist, for reasons of their own. They each harbor ill feelings towards the other’s sibling, which causes a bit of tension between them. But when Amy tells Curtis about her probe into Ben’s death, he agrees to help. It’s not long before they start finding evidence that his surfing accident may not have been an accident at all --- and that Ben’s and Gina’s deaths just may have been related.
As they continue to uncover clues, it becomes clear that they are risking their lives for the truth. Worst of all, little Raine may be in the most danger of all. Will they figure it out before it’s too late?
One of the best things about ROSEMARY COTTAGE is the small beach-town setting, which is warm and cozy and provides a beautiful ocean backdrop. But despite the hometown feel, there are certainly plenty of residents to keep track of, and it takes a while to get them all straight. I personally found main characters Amy and Curtis to be more likable and memorable than TIDEWATER INN’S Libby and Alec, although it was nice to revisit those previous characters as part of this supporting cast. My favorite character is Curtis’s Aunt Edith, who offers some wit and a wise perspective.
The mystery itself includes a few twists and turns, some predictable and some surprising. Overall, ROSEMARY COTTAGE offers an entertaining plot with a balanced flow and clever execution. Some of the topics and themes addressed include drugs, pregnancy out of wedlock, the tendency to judge based on reputation, single parenthood, midwifery, abusive relationships, and even a bit of political scandal thrown in for good measure. The faith element is present throughout and is a consistent motivator of both Amy’s and Curtis’s actions. No, they don’t always make good choices or act perfectly. They sometimes speak rashly to each other and form judgments they have no right to form, but they are quick to recognize when they are wrong, and that’s what counts.
ROSEMARY COTTAGE is a wonderful beach read or anytime read. Those who enjoyed TIDEWATER INN will likely find just as much to love in this second installment of the Hope Beach series. Each book is a stand-alone, although reading them in order is recommended for full character development and story experience. It’s an engaging read, with the suspense and romance bestselling author Colleen Coble is known for. No word yet on when the next Hope Beach novel is scheduled to release, but for fans of the series, it can’t be soon enough.
Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on August 15, 2013