Jayne Ann Krentz wraps up her Eclipse Bay trilogy with this laid-back story of novelist Nick Harte and art gallery owner, Octavia Brightwell. After a slow start, I’m happy to report that the author is in fine form - Summer In Eclipse Bay is full of interesting characters and witty banter.
Nick Harte is a desperate man. Six times he has asked the new woman in town, Octavia Brightwell, out and six times she’s given him lame excuses on why she can’t accept. However, Nick just can’t get her out of his head. He’s been entranced ever since his sister had a show at her gallery, much to the dismay of his young son, Carson. Carson has his own agenda where Octavia is concerned and he doesn’t want Dad making her mad with his continued pestering.
Octavia has very valid reasons for turning Nick down. For one thing Nick has a bit of a love ‘em and leave ‘em reputation. Ever since his first wife died he hasn’t been in any steady relationship. Rumors of “The Talk” that he gives each new lady friend have taken on mythic proportions in tiny Eclipse Bay. If that wasn’t reason enough, there’s also the little matter that Octavia is related to the woman who started the Madison-Harte feud all those years ago.
However, Nick is really persistent, and Octavia is soon agreeing to a date - which naturally leads to more dates and some steamy chemistry. When a bit of a mystery sweeps into town, Nick is soon working overtime to clear Octavia’s good name.
I’ve always felt there are two kinds of summer books - beach books and vacation books. Summer In Eclipse Bay is a vacation book. Unlike its page-turning, nail-biting cousin, the vacation book is easy-going, without a hint of angst. There is very little conflict in this story to speak of until the reader gets past the first third of the book. The Madison-Harte feud, which was never much of a feud to speak of, has all but petered out. Aside from Nick trying to get a date with Octavia, there isn’t a whole lot going on outside of local, colorful shenanigans.
While I really liked Nick and Octavia from the onset, there just wasn’t much keep the book glued to my hands - that is until I hit around page 100, when the author turns up the heat. The chemistry between the couple really begins to cook, and it’s shortly thereafter that Krentz introduces a very light suspense thread. On the surface the mystery angle looks rather cut and dry, but the author throws a suitable twist into the mix that gives the story some added oomph. It is this oomph that propels Summer In Eclipse Bay from light, fluffy vacation book to a nice page-turner.
Readers who have been following the previous Eclipse Bay books will be happy to hear that characters from previous books make healthy appearances - this includes past couples, family and local townsfolk. The author has a real eye for her small town, and with her colorful cast, I wouldn’t be surprised if she decided to revisit the setting in the future. Trilogy or not, Nick’s son, Carson seems ripe with possibilities.
Snappy dialogue, a likable couple, and a tidy, little suspense thread make Summer In Eclipse Bay an entertaining return to the popular summer vacation destination. Krentz followers in particular will want to pick this one up - adding another bestseller to the author’s growing list.