Haven Creek
by Rochelle Alers, contemporary (2013)
Grand Central Publishing, $8.00, ISBN 978-1-4555-0139-7


Haven Creek is most likely the last book in the Cavanaugh Island series to have a title named after a place on the map. I doubt "Black Bay" makes a marketable title, and the sex between our hero Nathaniel Shaw and heroine Morgan Dane aren't incredible enough to shake the fault lines and raise some new landmarks from the sea. Mind you, I'd have this feeling that there will be more books in this series, as there are certainly ample sequel baits here hogging the scene like obnoxious wallpaper. At least, I hope they are sequel baits, because if they aren't, then the author would have lost the plot altogether in this padding-heavy story.

Our architect Morgan quit her job at the big city to open her own firm in Sanctuary Cove. Her plan is to restore the Angels Landing Plantation, a long-term plan that will earn her plenty of prestige and respect. To make her dream come true, she needs the help of carpenter Nathaniel Shaw. Oh, and he's a very rich owner of a business, so he's not some white collar hard-working dude if you are hoping for that kind of milkshake. Romance is dead without the dough, after all.

He knows her from way back, before he quit the island after some drama involving his father sleeping with the nurse hired to care for Nate's dying mother - I'm pretty sure there's a book by Nicholas Sparks with that plot - and now he's surprised by how she's filling those bra cups and what not. She's grown up, and hot now! Of course, given that she was thirteen the last time he saw her, she really should have grown up and filled those bra cups, or we've better get on the hotline to the endocrinology department at the nearest hospital ASAP.

So, these two meet and fall in love. But he has cheating-ex issues, although fortunately he'd meet many women here, of the shallow bitter bitchy brigade variety, to drive home how amazing Morgan is. She's truly incomparable as a Perfect Woman, and she even has a crush on him since she was thirteen! If that isn't true love, then what is?

The romance is pretty much that: they like each other, but they just move things at a snail's pace or else the story will end after 100 pages. Meanwhile, there are plenty of filler drama involving Nate's brother, friend-in-hospital subplot, making-up-with-the-parents fest, and the ever popular "the ex-is-whack and other bitches are so not worthy compared to the special heroine" nonsense. There are also dinner parties to attend, detailed description of everyone's clothes and hairstyle as well as their back stories (regardless of whether or not these details matter to the plot), so many people to stop by and talk to from Point A to B to C...

On top of everything, the author just has to adopt a style best described as "telling non-stop in the driest manner possible".

Even by the last page, I don't have a sense of what or who the main characters are. They are a laundry list of perfect virtues, and because the author tells instead of shows, their behavior to spark some tedious temporary conflict always feels out of character.

I'm so glad that at the end of day Nate gets to bury his face in Morgan's Haven Creek forever and ever, with many babies and sequels to come, but I am so bored out of my mind reading this story that hitting the last page is easily the most rapturous thing about the whole reading experience.

Rating: 50


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