Early Review: The House on Blackberry Hill by Donna Alward

29 The House on Blackberry HillThe House on Blackberry Hill by Donna Alward
Book #1 in Jewell Cove
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: April 29th 2014
ARC Provided by Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press

Synopsis from Goodreads: When a young woman inherits a rundown mansion, the last thing she expects to find is the key to her heart…

Abby Foster is a fish out of water in the Maine coastal town of Jewell Cove. The crumbling Foster estate, left to her by a relative she never even knew, has everyone’s eyes on her—an eerie reminder of the long-buried family secrets that have haunted her…forever. Single, stunning, and sometimes too strong-willed for her own good, Abby’s plan is to sell the house and hightail it back to Nova Scotia. But another part of her is intrigued by the idea of starting over somewhere new—and finally learning the truth about her heritage.

Enter Tom Arseneault. The best contractor in Jewell Cove, Tom is determined to restore the beauty and prestige of the Foster mansion—and maybe even work his charms on its beautiful new heir. The attraction between him and Abby is undeniable, and the more time Tom spends on the house the more he wants to be in it with her. But Abby’s not sure she can trust him—or anyone in Jewell Cove who seems to know more about her family history than she does. Home: Is it really where the heart is after all?

Christal’s Review – 4 Skulls – B+

The House on Blackberry Hill was my first Donna Alward book and I loved it!  The romance was sweet, the characters were quirky, and the town of Jewell Cove was amazing.  Watching Abby and Tom fall in love was wonderful and I loved imagining the old Foster mansion being restored.  The paranormal elements were a little jarring but I did enjoy learning more about Abby’s family and what drove the sisters apart.

Abby Foster inherits an old mansion from a side of her family she never even knew about.  She leaves Nova Scotia to visit the Maine town of Jewell Cove to see how much restoration the house might need before putting it up on the market.  Tom Arseneault is a long-time resident of Jewell Cove and one of the best contractors around. When he learns that work on the old Foster mansion is going up for bid, he knows this is his perfect job.  Abby and Tom get off on the wrong foot, but soon find themselves working together on the house.  As they work to restore the mansion to its former glory, Abby finds clues to the family that ignored her and she and Tom begin to build a relationship.  With both Abby and Tom keeping secrets about their past, can they learn to move forward and live in the now?

The main characters in The House on Blackberry Hill were wonderful.  Abby was sweet yet feisty and she didn’t let anyone put her down.  She was smart when it came to the house and the renovations and knew what she wanted it to look like.  She made friends and began to put down roots in Jewell Cove, but she still stood up for herself when people tried to manipulate her or put her into situations where she was uncomfortable.  I liked seeing her loosen up and begin to make friends and I also enjoyed her drive to learn more about her family.  Tom was an interesting romantic lead.  He was sexy and caring, but he had a lot of baggage in his past.  He had fallen in love with the wrong women and he couldn’t seem to let her go.  When Abby enters his life, he knows its time to let the past go but he finds the guilt harder to forget that anything.  He’s great at his job and has a wonderful family, but he’s constantly haunted by transgressions from the past.  Abby and Tom both need to work through their past pain in order to open up to one another and build a life together.  Abby and Tom were at times sweet, funny, and frustrating together.  Their relationship was a roller coaster, but I really enjoyed the ride.  I would say the heat level of this book is pretty mild.  There were a lot of sexy scenes, but nothing explicit.  This was more about the emotional connection between Abby and Tom than the physical.

The secondary characters were well-developed in this book and I especially loved Tom’s family.  The House on Blackberry Hill set up Tom’s sister and best friend as the main characters for the next novel very well and gave just a little tease into their past history.  I loved meeting all the different residents of Jewell Cove and I can’t wait to learn more about the town.  It sounds so enchanting; I would love to live there!

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an ARC copy of this book for review!

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

Series Reading Order:
1. The House on Blackberry Hill
2. Treasure on Lilac Lane (Expected publication: October 28th 2014)

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