Claire Dellamare disappeared from a birthday party decades ago. Returned to her family under mysterious circumstances, she has recurring nightmares and many questions. In order to find the peace she desires, she must uncover the secrets of her past. But someone wishes her past remain covered. Will she find what she is looking for before it’s too late? Or will Claire be buried with her secrets?
The setting of The Inn at Ocean’s Edge is one of the most intriguing and appealing aspects of the novel. It is easy to imagine the town of Sunset Cove tucked along the Maine coastline in all its beauty. Coble’s research into Orca whales, lobster traps, and cranberry bogs lends to the authenticity of life on the Eastern Seaboard. Without drowning in excessive detail, this story is a delight to the senses.
The Inn at Ocean’s Edge is told through multiple viewpoints. At times, mostly in the beginning, it is a bit of a challenge to differentiate between characters and scenes because of insufficient paragraph and page breaks. This dilutes the impact of the scenes, disrupts the flow of the story, and is disorienting. However, each character has a unique voice and personality, which helps to overcome the difficulty or distraction the manuscript errors cause.
The dialogue between the main characters isn’t burdened with detail, consumed with unnecessary facts, or used to make a point. The conversation moves the story forward, and reveals the main characters as likeable and sympathetic. However, the dialogue of some of the minor characters seems contrived and superficial. As a result, the lesser personalities do not feel realistic or add anything to the storyline, making it difficult to identify with them.
The Inn at Ocean’s Edge has an eerie tone from the beginning, which gives the storyline a strange rather than a suspenseful feel to the majority of the narrative. The object of the novel is the discovery of who did what to whom and why, as one would expect with a mystery. The plot has plenty of interesting twists and turns, but sometimes hard to follow. Some scenes are gripping and engaging while others seem to lack depth and purpose. The ending is a bit far-fetched, but the mystery is challenging, and the climax is exciting.
The conflict in The Inn at Ocean’s Edge is driven mostly by external events. Each personality must confront complex circumstances arriving out of someone else’s poor, past choices. The characters do have private struggles which they overcome. These internal difficulties, though not the main focus, give the plot variety and are used to heighten the drama in an effective way. The romantic tension is on the sweet, predictable side, but Claire’s character lacks a little depth and maturity, which is surprising and disappointing.
The spiritual message of the novel is one of its greatest strengths as it is tastefully understated and effective. The characters put their faith into action rather than talk about it. As a result, there are Christian elements communicated throughout without a strident, preachy tone.
The Inn at Ocean’s Edge is geared for Christian women who like a good mystery and a little romance with it. It may appeal to a secular audience as well. There is no graphic material, but readers should be aware that there are dark themes explored. This is a stand-alone novel, and the first in Colleen Coble’s Shadow Bay Series.
Despite manuscript errors and lack of depth in a few characters, The Inn at Ocean’s Edge is an intriguing and entertaining read, alive with mystery and romance.
I was given a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.