Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Bella Cove by Rochelle Katzman

Bella Cove is the story of a couple who were separated but then find each other again. While it's a common theme in romance, this eluded to a family mystery which had caused the couple to part. I was intrigued by the idea of the story.

The story is written from Kayla's perspective. She and Gabe had dated in college but her family's crisis had pulled them apart. Years later Gabe ends up in Bella Cove and two are reacquainted through third-party manipulation. The story is mostly about the struggle that Kayla has with her new duties as the matriarch of the family and Gabe's inability to forgive her for leaving him.

The story is has a distinct "After School Special" feel to it, complete with cheesy dialogue, unrealistic characters, and instantly accepted solutions. All of the standard character tropes and plot lines are represented in this story which gives the impression that the author intended for this to be a series but then changed her mind and shoved everything into a single book. The sex scenes and the paranormal sections both feel contrived. The paranormal sections in particular almost read as if they were an afterthought.

The big family secret is confusing. It's implied that there is some secret which she is keeping from Gabe but the secret she's keeping is something that is mentioned repeatedly throughout the story. The actual family secret isn't revealed until later and has nothing to do with Kayla or Gabe or their relationship. It is supposed to explain why some of Kayla's family act the way they do but comes across as justifying abusive behavior. Not that it matters much because 2 or 3 sentences from Kayla and the abuser is in tears apologizing.

This is one of the things that bothered me the most about the story. Kayla reads like an introvert who has given up on having her own life because she was forced to take on the role of matriarch. There is very little that she does without reluctance. Yet, she supposedly has the magic power to utter a few sentences and solve everyone's problems, anyone's except hers.

I like that this book is not a bodice ripper, however, the overly simple writing style is more suitable for a teenage audience. The premise is good but the poorly implemented plot and lack of character development is a missed opportunity for the author.