Dawn in Eclipse Bay by Jane Ann Krentz
Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: May 1, 2001
Pages: 352 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Dawn in Eclipse Bay is Book 2 in a trilogy of three, contemporary, romantic-suspense novels. The first book is Eclipse Bay. The third book is Summer in Eclipse Bay. Since this is a trilogy, this book is not nearly as enjoyable without reading the first book. It allows the reader to understand the backstory of the feud between the Hartes and the Madisons (which is described below).
I checked out a Kindle copy of this book through my local library, and the publisher required a rather onerous USB download. The formatting is oddly done with double-spacing between every paragraph. This might actually have made the book easier to read if it weren't for one big editing error--quite frequently the publisher has failed to keep dialog together with its attribution, so that it becomes confusing as to who is speaking. Other than that, there were no glaring problems with editing.
The events in this book take place several months after Lillian Harte's sister Hannah has married Gabe Madison's brother Rafe. Thirty-year-old Lillian is on the verge of shutting down her successful computer-program-based matchmaking business when 35-year-old Gabe insists on hiring her services. Reluctantly she takes him on as her final client. Unfortunately, he is the client from hell. He has been promised six dates, and his first five are, in his opinion, a disaster, even though Lillian has given him exactly what he has asked for. Lillian informs him that his list of requirements in a wife sound like he wants to marry a robot, and furthermore she is convinced he has lied in answer to every aspect of her questionnaire other than when he states he does not want an "artsy" wife.
Before all this happened, Lilian was attracted to Gabe at her sister's wedding, but after having Gabe as a client, she decides there is no chance of anything romantic ever happening between them because she is a dedicated artist who is leaving her business to move to Eclipse Bay and paint full time. When workaholic Gabe unexpectedly takes his first vacation in years and shows up on her doorstep in Eclipse Bay, she is taken completely by surprise and has no idea why he has chosen to rent a cabin within walking distance of hers for an entire month. To make matters worse, her mother, grandfather, Gabe's grandfather, and Gabe's ex-girlfriend who is a highly ambitious politician, are all sticking their oars into the turbulent waters of her connection with Gabe, and the whole, gossipy town is avidly looking on to witness the outcome of yet another pairing of a Madison and a Harte.
My favorite JAK books are the ones with lots of witty repartee between the hero and heroine, and this book definitely has some of that, though not as much as Eclipse Bay. It's still a quite enjoyable book, even though the hero and heroine are upstaged by Hannah and Rafe from Book 1. The town of Eclipse Bay and its quirky inhabitants are a joy to read about, and JAK provides her signature style of romance, a battle of wills between two equals paired with a subplot of a mystery that they team up to solve together.
For those who like thrillers or suspense that are gripping and scary, this is not that kind of book and not that kind of trilogy. The main event is definitely the romance, but if you like lighthearted romance, you will really enjoy this book.
For those who have not read Book 1, here is a bit of the backstory on the Harte/Madison Feud: Eclipse Bay is a small, seaside town in Oregon where all the inhabitants know each other--and gossip is a communal sport. The most popular source of ongoing speculation for the past 40 years has been the Hartes and Madisons. Mitchell Madison and Sinclair Harte were war buddies (presumably from WWII, as Mitchell is around 80 at the time of this story, which was originally published in 2000, making him born around 1920). After the war, they went into business together and were very successful until they brawled over a woman, whom neither of them ended up with, and broke up their business. Sinclair Harte recovered well, rebuilding his own business and making a successful marriage with one son, who followed in Sinclair's footsteps in his business, made his own successful marriage, and produced three children, a son Nick, who writes thrillers and is the hero of Book 3 of this trilogy; a daughter Lillian, who is the heroine of this book; and the youngest of the three siblings and heroine of Book 1, Hannah, formerly a wedding consultant and now co-owner of a bed and breakfast in Eclipse Bay with her new husband Rafe.
Mitchell Madison's life ran along a much rougher track than Sinclair Harte's. He had four failed marriages and his only child, a wildly emotional sculptor, had a long-term affair with his equally passionate model. Out of that stormy alliance came two sons, Rafe, the hero of Eclipse Bay, and his older brother Gabe. Their parents died in an accident when they were children, and they were raised by Mitchell.