Fifteen years after she left Prince Edward Island, Natalie O’Ryan had no plans to return. But when her fiancé, music producer Russell Jacobs, books their wedding in her hometown and schedules a summer at Rose’s Red Door Inn, she sets out to put the finishing touches on the perfect wedding. But she can’t possibly prepare for a run-in with Justin Kane–the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay.
Justin’s never forgotten Natalie or the music career he always dreamed of pursuing. He’d been prepared to follow her off the island until his dad died and he was left to run the family dairy farm. He’s done the best he can with the life that was thrust upon him–but with Natalie back in the picture, he begins to realize just how much joy he’s been missing.
After Natalie’s reception venue falls through, she must scramble to find an alternative, and the only option seems to be a barn on Justin’s property. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness–and that there may be more than an old friendship between them.
(excerpt from back of book)
I started reading On Love's Gentle Shore with mixed feelings. By all accounts, this appears to be the last installment in the Prince Edward Island Dreams series and I am not sure I'm ready to say goodbye to the characters and world of North Rustico. Keeping that in mind, On Love's Gentle Shore was a great read and easily suitable for new and old fans of the series (although I highly recommend new fans find books 1 and 2 so that they can get a full appreciation of the little details Johnson resolves).
For older fans of the series, Johnson has beautifully woven in the characters we love with Marie, Caden, and Aretha all making strong appearances in the third novel, each adding to Natalie's story without taking away from her central focus. I love how Johnson is able to stay true to her characters and world while extending the story outwards as each of these ladies still shine in their roles. For Marie, On Love's Gentle Shore brings so much change, I love how her story line is brought to a resolution that seems so fitting. Aretha really shone for me, however. Although earlier books have talked about her past, Natalie's reappearance in North Rustico allows readers to see more of Aretha's character during the past. While it had direct impact on the plot it also felt like a bit of a shout out for Aretha lovers and I was so grateful to see this lady have her moment in the closing pages of the novel.
For newcomers, Natalie O'Ryan and Justin Kane provide a rollercoaster of emotions as they work out forgiveness, redemption, and relationships. Natalie is a fiery character who Liz has softened with realistic vulnerabilities. Natalie's backstory is painfully realistic and adds a sharper edge than some readers may expect from a Christian romance. That said, I think Johnson handles each issue and dimension she adds into her story with care and the mess her characters find themselves in make the second chance all the sweeter.
Speaking of which, the love story. Natalie O'Ryan finds herself in an odd love triangle throughout most of the book and I loved every minute of it. I normally hate triangles but it this case it really helps highlight the dimensions and choices in Natalie's life. This definitely isn't a flowery romance novel but I loved the realism of it from flying potatoes to late nights at the lighthouse. This realism made the themes of forgiveness and second chances all the more powerful as readers were invited into flawed characters trying to make sense of big concepts and messy scenarios.
Prince Edward Island Dreams is a series that only disappoints in it's lack of a 4th book ;) I highly recommend to fans of Christian fiction or P.E.I.
4.5 out of 5 stars
"Book has been provided courtesy of Revell and Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an honest opinion."