Twilight at Blueberry Barrens
The latest in Colleen Coble’s Sunset Cove series, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens suffers from some of the same flaws as one of the earlier installments I read. There’s just too much going on in this book and it’s not tied together very well. Overall, that’s a shame because there really are some interesting twists to the plot. They just get lost in everything else along the way.
I first encountered Kate Mason, the heroine of this book, in The Inn at Ocean’s Edge. However, even without having read that book, one can pick up with this novel and quickly get an idea of who Kate is and what her struggles are. Plagued for years with a chronic health condition, her life is now physically much better after having received life-saving treatment. However, her troubles in the town of Folly Shoals are far from over. Her mother and the uncle who always helped care for her are both in jail and while she is able to live on the family blueberry farm, her fields are unproductive and money is terribly tight.
On top of all that, Kate finds herself in the unenviable role of murder witness. As the book opens, Kate and her sister find the bodies of a murdered couple on the beach. While this book does stand alone fairly well, those who have been following the series may raise an eyebrow here at the body count. After all, Folly Shoals is starting to seem like an idyllic small town where people just happened to get killed every other day.
When Drake Newham shows up in Folly Shoals soon afterward looking for a place to rent, he makes Kate nervous but is also something of an answer to a prayer. The income she receives from renting a home on her property to him just might help her stay afloat. Of course, this being romantic suspense, Drake brings his own baggage with him. He has come to this small town on the Maine coast looking for answers about the killing of his brother and sister-in-law – the folks Kate found on the beach.
As Drake moves in near Kate and Kate finds herself working as a nanny to Drake’s two nieces, the two start to establish a rapport. It’s a rather slow-forming romance, but pleasant all the same. However, this is the point at which the plotting starts to lose its way. On the one hand, readers can tell that someone is obviously targeting Drake; and trying to figure out what lies at the heart of that certainly did keep me flipping through pages. However, we also get some additional crime in Folly Shoals, including a creepy “peeping Tom”, and that all really did start to feel like overkill.
Speaking of all that crime, not only do we have someone targeting Drake and family, but we also learn that Kate’s violent uncle has escaped from prison. His motive for doing so? I have no idea. Maybe he just didn’t like the food.
Parts of the story, particularly those involving Drake’s quest for answers, really did hold my attention and made for engaging reading. However, the kitchen sink plotting technique of throwing in every other plot trail under the sun made the book feel cluttered. As a result, the story went from riveting to forgettable for me in fairly short order. The twists and turns were fun at first, but as we reach the end, it all gets messy. So yes, the ultimate resolution scene didn’t really do much for me.
While Twilight at Blueberry Barrens didn’t do much for me, it’s not a terrible read. Coble does have some good ideas and I think if she streamlined her plotting a bit, she could come up with some good suspense. However, this one just isn’t something I could recommend.