Desert Isle Keeper
This is a wonderful book. It deftly explores friendship, family, and love. Emily Henry deserves all the love for this heartfelt story–I had an extremely hard time putting it down.
Harriet, Sabrina and Cleo have been friends since they were college roommates their freshmen year. They have been coming to Sabrina’s family cottage in Maine for getaways for the last ten years and Sabrina has invited them back one last time before the place is sold. (Sabrina is a Manhattan heiress whose father’s sixth wife wants the cottage sold.) There’s another reason Sabrina has invited them all–she and her partner, Parth, are excited to share their engagement with the group.
Harriet is excited to come back to her happy place where she can put her worries behind her and enjoy friends, wine and seafood, that is, until she sees Wyn Connor, her ex-fiancé, who broke up with her five months ago. They haven’t told anyone yet because their split was so painful. She’s surprised to see Wyn, especially when he pretends they are still together in front of their friends. Harriet is a people pleaser and wants to make everyone happy so she goes along with it and they decide they will fake date for the week.
This is a dual timeline novel and next we are taken back to when the two met. In their senior year of college Wyn, who was Parth’s best friend, moved into an apartment with Harriet, Cleo and Sabrina. It was sweet to watch Harriet and Wyn fall in love. They are both likeable, unique characters and I could feel their attraction to each other. Harriet said she felt like their love could incinerate her because it felt so ‘bright and hot’. After graduation, they move into an apartment in New York City above a bookstore where Wyn works while Harriet goes to med school. This is where he proposes, and they became engaged.
They stop seeing as much of their friends in part because Cleo leaves for Belize to work on an organic farm and Sabrina and Parth go to law school in New York.
In the present Harriet is a surgeon, two years into her residency in San Francisco, and she is exhausted. She wishes she had someone to call when she and Wyn broke up, like her parents or her big sister but they don’t have that kind of relationship. Her parents seem to care only about her medical career and her sister avoids her. Wyn moved with Harriet to San Francisco where they lived together until his father died suddenly and he went back home to Montana to care for his mother who has Parkinson’s and to work at the family furniture repair business. Harriet wants answers from Wyn about their break-up five months ago. He called her from Montana and ended their eight year relationship in a four minute conversation on the phone and she doesn’t know why.
Now that the gang is all back together, it turns out they all have their own secrets to share. I stayed up late turning the pages to find out what they each were going through.
My favorite part of the story is present day at the cottage, when they jump off the dock, bask in the sun, and go out on a boat ride to see puffins and harbor seals. They visit their favorite spots in town like the local bookstore, Murder She Read, where fans will appreciate a certain mention of a book by a famed writing couple from Beach Read. There’s also the Lobster Hut, where they eat lobster rolls, play darts and reminisce about their past while they dance and drink wine. The scenery in the Maine harbor town was beautiful. The story has sad and emotional moments but also wonderful ones as these friends navigate changes and decide whether they will be able to make room for each other as their lives change and grow.
This is Emily Henry’s best book yet. Harriet and Wyn are soulmates, even when they don’t always see it. It’s a joy to watch them struggle to stay together through the tumultuous transition from college to adulthood and, ultimately, find their happy place. Their friends are funny and loveable and I found myself rooting for all of them. While there is humor throughout the book, this is not a light romcom. It tackles topics like changes in friendships, grief, depression, self-growth along with an angsty second chance romance. The ending is immensely satisfying and I highly recommend this wonderful book.
Kayne Spooner is a retired science teacher, dog owner, and proud grandma who lives in beautiful Colorado. While she's an avid reader of all genres, romances have always swept her off her feet. Kayne gravitates toward stories with humor, swoon-worthy love interests, and memorable furry sidekicks, although really, if there's a happy ever after, she's here for it! She loves sharing her passion for books with the romance community and connecting with fellow readers. https://www.instagram.com/kspoonerfish/.
|Review Date:||May 3, 2023|
|Book Type:||Contemporary Romance|
|Review Tags:||dual timelines | Maine | second chance romance|
It’s interesting to me that this book was called, in WaPo article entitled ‘Happy Place’ shows that Emily Henry is still queen of romance, a gorgeous book about just life.
The review writes:
It feels like the more the culture–the gate-keeping, high end review culture embraces romance–the more things that most don’t consider very romantic are championed.
I looked up the review. I thought it was quite patronizing of romance writers and I was puzzled by her muddled distinction of various genres like women’s and literary-leaning fiction’ (as if they are two exclusive categories). However, if she considers Emily Henry a romance fiction writer, was her previous books more closely aligned with the definition of romance fiction (a love story with an emotionally satisfying, optimistic ending)? Based on the comments here, Happy Place does not seem to be a romance story.
Harriet and Wyn have a wonderful HEA. I don’t want to give away spoilers so I will just say that I thought the ending was very emotionally satisfying for Harriet, Wyn and all of their friends, and so I believe it’s a romance. I think it could also be labeled as Women’s Fiction.
On my TBR pile; will see which side of the fence I fall on.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.
I just finished this book and I have mixed feelings about it. I think it’s well written and I really enjoyed the friendships and all the secondary characters. I thought the dual timeline was handled well.
But I think the title and cover are misleading – it looks like a fun lighthearted book and it’s nothing of the sort. It’s a very angst-filled book where I kept reading to find out why the main couple broke up. Yes, I guess you’d can call it a romance, but it borders on woman’s fiction.
For me, this was a solid B book. I can’t say I’d recommend it.
Your comment about the cover reminds me of Beach Read. When I was reading it, I kept wondering when they were going to lay on the beach in the sun and read (like the cover showed) and I don’t know that they ever did:)
I agree! This book is about a couple in a long term relationship who at at a crossroads. There are many rifts with the friend group and how they are all growing apart. Many of the characters are depressed. Everyone in this novel needs individual and group therapy.
The writing is excellent and I think the author tackles all those issues during the book. But this is not a relaxing summer escape read.
I feel like this is one of those authors so hugely popular, she can do no wrong and majority of the reviews will reflect that. I didn’t care for this one. The alternating timeline was confusing and I didn’t care for it. I usually don’t mind that either . the friends were boring and a few days after reading I honestly don’t remember anything about them. As a friend put it; this is a breakup book not a romance. Maybe I expect more from this author but if this was any other author it wouldn’t be such a high grade , I’m convinced. No come at me lol
When I read Book Lovers I saw a lot of readers raving about it and I couldn’t feel the love for it. Lucky for me, I enjoyed this new one:) I appreciate you sharing your thoughts about Happy Place.