Release Date: Jun 23, 2020
Series: Moonlight Bay
Heat Level: Warm
Publisher: Grand Central
Return to Magnolia Harbor is the third book in Hope Ramsey’s Moonlight Bay series. Our heroine Jessica Blackwood hopes to make a success of her architectural design firm, so she lands an amazing job. Unfortunately, the client is none other than her high school nemesis, Chrstopher “Topher” Martin. Topher has learned the error of his ways after a recent accident that left him scarred mentally and physically. Now that he’s back in Magnolia Harbor and working with Jessica, he’s hoping to make amends. But is Jessica willing to forgive him?
This was my first book by Hope Ramsey and I was intrigued by the blurb and the cover. I love a good small town romance set in a beach community, and I especially love a redemption story. This book is packed with the usual small town gossip and intrigue most romance readers expect, though I will say some of the residents of this story come off much darker than most small town romance characters. This may turn off some readers that were expecting a lighter read.
The main couple of Topher and Jessica were good on the page together, but a bit vanilla for my taste. There is a Beauty and the Beast theme that is running throughout this story, and I enjoyed that piece of the romance. However, there were also undertones of Christian morals and beliefs that I didn’t not expect. As a non-religious person, and a reader that enjoys more steam this made the story drag for me. I don’t need explicit scenes in a novel, but I do need to feel that passion and connection in a much more tangible way.
The plot is a pretty simple second chance/redemption story which is a very popular trope. I enjoyed some of the secondary characters, especially the pirate obsessed kid and his search for treasure. There were pieces of the story that really worked for me, unfortunately it was overshadowed by how clean and wholesome the story was. It felt like the equivalent of reading the script of a Hallmark channel movie. There’s very little in the way of external conflict, much of the conflict comes from the main characters themselves which can be fine in some books, but did not work for me here.
I think this book just didn’t work for me on a personal level because I’m not usually a fan of this type of book. However, fans of clean or sweet romances may still enjoy the story. The writing is definitely well executed and the storyline was adequate. I just needed the characters and the romance to be much more passionate than what we were given. This book reminded me a lot of Sheryl Woods or Debbie Macomber, so if you’re a fan of their works you’ll enjoy this novel. For me it was just only okay, so I gave it three stars.