Breakwater Bay is the story of preservationist Mari Hollis. On the brink of turning thirty, Mari is sure her life is going to work out just the way she wants it to. She has a job she loves, restoring one of Rhode Island’s gilded age mansions to its former splendor. Her boyfriend is sure to propose any day now, and in fact, he might even do so on her thirtieth birthday. Plus, the coming of summer means more time to spend at her family home on the coast. But on Mari’s birthday, everything changes drastically. Her boyfriend announces that he’s going to law school, and Mari’s beloved grandmother reveals a long held secret about Mari’s birth.
Set totally adrift by all that has happened, Mari isn’t sure where to turn. Normally, it would be to lifelong friend Alden Corrigan, but his role in her family’s past makes Mari uncertain of his true feelings. Plus, Alden has troubles of his own.
Growing up without a mother was hard for Alden. So, when his own marriage failed, he agreed that his ex-wife should have custody of their two children, even though he suspected she wasn’t quite the loving mother they needed. I suppose it was a case of any mother being better than no mother at all. It’s a logic I couldn’t wrap my head around, but Alden seemed quite set on it. His sixteen-year-old daughter Nora has different ideas though. She’s tired of living as part of a blended family. She’d much rather live with her father, and spend time with Mari and her grandmother.
Alden is also haunted by what happened thirty years before, on the night Mari was born. He swore he would care for and protect her, and he’s done so ever since. He’s been fighting his true feelings for her for a while now, sure he’s not the right man for her.
Ms. Noble has been compared to such authors as Kristin Hannah and Diane Chamberlain. I can see the similarities, but Ms. Noble doesn’t quite have the skill of the other two. There were several instances where I felt she was telling me things instead of letting me experience them for myself. She is quite skilled at writing relationships between friends and family members, but romance is not her forte. Over and over, I was told that Alden loved Mari, but all I saw was a forty-two-year-old man who seemed fond of pouting when he didn’t get his way. True, Alden has his insecurities, but they aren’t written in such a way as to make me sympathize with him. I was inclined to shake him on more than one occasion in hopes of making him see sense.
I’m a long-time fan of narrator Kirsten Potter’s work. In fact, I chose to review this book partly because I saw her listed as the narrator. I really will listen to her any chance I get.
Ms. Potter does her usual stellar job with this story. The characters are distinctly voiced, the pacing is spot on, and the inherently soothing quality of her voice makes some of the book’s flaws easier to deal with. I adore narrators who can make even average books seem great, and Ms. Potter is definitely one of those.
My favorite character depiction is that of Mari’s grandmother. She’s an independent old lady, who is trying hard to come to terms with the past as well as her own mortality. Ms. Potter imbues her with just the right combination of spunk and vulnerability. My favorite scenes were those where she was present.
Breakwater Bay isn’t a bad book. It’s just not a great one. I would try something of Ms. Noble’s again, for I honestly believe she has potential. However, I do think it would make more sense for her to focus on general fiction rather than romance.
Narration: A and Book Content: C+ Unabridged. Length 11 hours 13 minutes