FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book. These are my honest thoughts.
If you’re in the mood for a fluffy beach read, this book is a great fit. I usually like more depth to the books I read, but every now and then, a beachy read is exactly what I’m in the mood for. That was the case when I picked up Blackberry Beach by Irene Hannon.
One of the best lines (to me) was this gem: “Life shouldn’t be all about accruing money.” It was great to see characters making choices NOT based on money but rather on God’s direction for their lives. This was so refreshing!
The beach scenes were some of my favorites in this story. The view was declared to be amazing, but I wish it would have been described a little more so it could have come alive in my mind. The discussions on the beach and the romantic bits that took place there were heartfelt and entertaining.
The cover was completely gorgeous. The purple hues were beautiful and complementary, and I loved that Katherine’s sunglasses were highlighted! They played a big role in the story, so it was fun to see they made it to the cover as well. It was fun also to have the pair of seagulls flying in the background of the cover, considering they play such significant roles throughout the entire series. The only alteration I would make is to highlight the blackberries a bit more. They’re hard to see in the bushes at the bottom of the cover. But overall, this was a breezy, fun cover that piqued my interest.
Zach was a great character. I liked that he was mystified by the leading lady from the jump but then dug deeper until he got to know her at different levels. This was handled well with chivalry and respect, which made me feel right at home getting to know these two.
The older-couple romance angle was so sweet! I adored Stephanie and Frank so much and would love to see them pop back around in a future book.
The reunion was great and well written. I can’t say more than that without spoilers, but it was something special.
The coffee shop and chocolate making aspects of this story were delightful and detailed.
There were some things that bugged me about this book too. I’ll briefly touch on them now, but I’ll try to not bemoan the things too much, because this was a fun read overall.
1 | Charley.
Charley is this mysterious Mexican man who always knows too much about everybody. There are no context clues for how he “discerned” the information, so he clearly knows the details by magic of some sort. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be “divine” or magician or genie type magic, but it drives me nuts every time because it’s completely unrealistic and makes me think these books ought to be labeled as Magical Realism instead of Contemporary Romance.
2 | Magical animals.
Floyd and Gladys (a pair of seagulls), a seal, and a dolphin all acted unlike any of their real-life counterparts that I’ve ever seen. They seemed to follow unspoken directives from Charley (who’s the one who named them). These critters acted unnaturally to me, and they gave me the willies.
3 | Follow one’s heart.
Charley advised a character to follow their heart because it had “never betrayed him.” This is poor advice, considering the Bible calls the heart “more deceitful than anything else” (Jeremiah 17:9). Several characters were stated to follow their hearts when making huge life decisions. I was really disappointed that prayer and seeking God’s will only came into play on one or two big decisions instead of the majority of the time, considering this book is in the Christian Fiction genre.
4 | Actress in disguise.
The whole actress in disguise plot did not work for me at all. In theory, it was great. I love that type of story, so I was really looking forward to this one. In actual application, it wasn’t very well done here. It was inconsistent throughout, sometimes claiming the lady wasn’t famous at all (thus, would not be easily recognized), while other times she was a “rising star” or on the verge of leaving the business altogether (indicating she’d already had a full career). At one point very late in the story, she even admitted “I’m not a household name.” That right there broke the entire actress in disguise plot for me. If she wasn’t a household name, then nobody would have recognized her whether or not she changed her hair color and wore dark sunglasses. Another reason I didn’t believe she wouldn’t be recognized is because in real life, actors and actresses are easily recognized with sunglasses, baseball caps, different hair colors and styles, and without their stage/screen makeup. If this make-believe actress was really half as famous as she claimed, she would have definitely been recognized in today’s tech-heavy society. One last thing about this actress thing. Nowhere through the entire book had she even thought or mentioned that she was considering directing rather than acting… yet, on page 292, she suddenly declared she was “getting more interested in the directing side of the business.” That came as a complete shock, because the whole time through the story, she’d been dragging her feet about making a decision about her first A-list movie role. There had been no previous hint at all about directing being an option.
5 | Awkward name drop.
It’s pretty common in Christian Fiction for authors to name-drop their friends by including titles or names. I’m fairly used to this now. What made this one extremely awkward to me was that Mrs. Hannon name dropped herself: “She held up the new Irene Hannon suspense novel she was reading.”
Overall, this was a cute read. Reality was suspended in a few places, but many readers will be able to better overlook those spots than I. The beachy-ness of the story was exactly what I wanted when I picked up this book, so on that front, I was definitely satisfied.
Content: replacement profanity, alcohol, sexual innuendo, tarot cards analogy, betting/wager analogies, drug abuse, crude sexual phrase, Catholicism