I had the opportunity to read a pre-publication copy of the book
Blackberry Summer by Raeanne Thayne. Advance information made this sound like an easy, romantic beach read. Centered in the small community Hope's Crossing, it was evident right away that this was another coming home story - this time it's the young police chief returning to his hometown and his reputation as a former teen bad boy. Add in the typical small town set of businesses so popular in romantic novels these days. This time the highlighted business is bead shop String Fever run by heroine and young divorcee Clare. And of course Clare and Police Chief Riley have a past. Riley was the pesky little brother to Clare's high school best friend. Now a three year age difference does not seem so much and Riley certainly isn't pesky.
Now I am a sometimes fan of authors such as Debbie Macomber who I feel can create an inviting small town and people it with enough interesting
characters for multiple books. And I have actually learned a little about knitting, quilting, book selling, and such from the underlying settings of
these books. Unfortunately, I cannot add this book to that list. I think Raeanne wanted to develop another memorable fictional community through this book, but she falls short. Too often she tells things which should unfold for the reader, and many of the characters introduced have way too small a part in the story. Could they have a more developed life in future books. Possibly, but I doubt that I will meet them again. The only detail that would drag me back for another Hope's Crossing book is the answer to this question ,"Who is the Hope's Crossing Angel?"
At the beginning of the book someone is anonymously helping people in need within the community. This person or persons is now known as Hope's Angel and the identity is never revealed. In fact, this person seems to drop out of the story.
As for the romance that you know is going to happen from the first page, I don't have to tell you anything more. It is predictable, but sweet, but definitely not as sweet as real blackberries!! If you're in the mood for
a quick, clean romance go for it. If you want deeper, more thoughtful characters try Debbie Macomber or Marie Bostwick.