Far Harbor is one of those books that you should read when you want a nice, steady plot and a good sense of atmosphere and are not in the mood for a lot of storm and stress.
Savannah Townsend returned to Far Harbor after her divorce. Dan O’Halloran is her sister, Raine’s, law partner and cousin-in-law. He returned to Far Harbor to take care of his orphaned nephew. While in Far Harbor, Dan discovered that his big-city life and social-minded wife were things that made him miserable instead of happy. Dan and Savannah begin to spend more time together when she buys the Far Harbor lighthouse to turn it into a bed and breakfast, and he acts as her lawyer.
Author Ross has a way with words. She uses them well to create atmosphere, but she can also, at times, drown you with details. It’s commendable that she uses popular culture references such as Xena, Warrior Princess, to refer to Raine, the warrior lawyer. Some writers have been criticized for making their young heroines listen to music not in their age range (as my 28-year-old self sits here listening to The Spy Who Loved Me). However, there were occasionally too many cultural references at a time.
Savannah is a likable enough heroine, but she’s very nearly too perfect. She’s beautiful without makeup, kind to her old partner in the lighthouse, and caring to all. Fortunately, she has a few flaws to humanize her, like not seeing her former husband for the rat he was, and she shows common sense by not rushing immediatly into a romantic relationship with Dan. Plus, she toughens up and becomes less sweet and unworldly through the course of the novel.
Dan is a great guy. He is a good-looking lawyer and caring surrogate dad to his nephew. Although he knows he wants Savannah, he doesn’t rush her and he spends time getting to know her and becomes her friend before he becomes her lover.
Of all the secondary characters, Savannah’s mother, Lilith, her rock-star father, Reggie, whose appearance was way too brief, and her business partner, Henry Hyatt, were my favorites. Lilith and Reggie were slightly over the top and lots of fun. Henry was a crotchety old man with a heart of gold. It was also interesting to read the diaries belonging to Henry’s mother, the requisite lighthouse ghost.
For all the well-written characters and mostly interesting descriptive writing, Far Harbor lacked excitement. There was not enough conflict – internal or external – to compel me to finish it. The book simply had a plodding quality to it. And, as “mostly interesting” as the descriptive writing could be, the amount of detail was sometimes overwhelming.
I’ve read a few of Ross’ series titles for Harlequin and enjoyed them. I got the feeling that Far Harbor could have been a great Harlequin title with more conflict and a bit of cutting on the description. Despite my reservations on this book, I’m willing to read another JoAnn Ross title, when I’ve got more time and fewer other books in my TBR pile.