Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sunrise on Cedar Key by Terri Dulong

For the second time in ten years, Grace Stone is starting over on Cedar Key. Grace first moved to the serene island to escape a disastrous relationship. Now a visit with her Aunt Maude is interrupted by unwelcome news: Grace's apartment and coffee shop have been destroyed by fire. Grace is devastated, yet ever-practical Maude has a plan. While she helps Grace resettle, Maude even has a business venture in mind - weekend knitting retreats where women can craft, chat, and support one another. But other surprises await, including the return of Grace's estranged sister, and a tentative romance with the local bookstore owner. Knitting together her past and future will mean untangling the painful threads Grace left behind. But the result could be a vibrant new life - and the courage to live it fully...

This is the first book I've read by Terri Dulong, and probably the last. The story overall isn't bad. But this book wasn't a page-turner for me. I read it because I saw it listed somewhere (probably one of our professional book review magazines for the library) and the description sounded like it might be something we would want for our library system. However, having read it, I know I wouldn't list it as one of my go-to books when making recommendations to patrons. And with an extremely limited materials budget this year, I know I'm not going to recommend we purchase it for our collection.

So what's wrong with it? Well, nothing...nothing that I can put my finger on, that is. The characters aren't cliche, but they're also not as well-rounded as I would prefer them to be. There's some tension between characters, but again, not nearly as much as I had anticipated, especially where Grace and her sister Chloe are concerned. Most of the conflict arises in the last quarter of the book, and that's pretty late in the game as far as I'm concerned. Characters are introduced, and while not forgotten, aren't really there either. Sigh. It's so hard to explain this well!

I suppose what I can say is this: I finished almost half of this book yesterday while I was home sick from work. It didn't take a lot of thought, or energy, to read it. I guess you could say it's like the yarn they describe at the knitting retreats - soft, or fluffy, or pastel. There's no "oomph" to this novel. Not even the romance lured me in, and he was French! And before anyone comes down on me for dissing the romance, no, I am not complaining that there aren't really any sex scenes here. What I am saying is that there is no heat to the romance, and you can write good love scenes without using sex. What it lacks is the sexual tension, the whole "will they or won't they" feeling. I'm fine with having that tension for almost the entire book, if it's written well and has me turning pages, hoping for the next kiss, the next caress.

Finally, I was really bowled over by how much people seem to love Cedar Key. It would appear that every person who sets foot on the island wants to relocate, which seems nice at first, but then it had a creepy, almost Stepford-like feel to it. And all these extremely successful business people! Granted, I don't read to be reminded of what's going on in the real world, but it would seem that everyone who opens up a shop on Cedar Key does just a bang-up job of it! That felt off to me, as well as how little it seemed to take to get said businesses open. That and the fact that other people fill in as needed when someone has an emergency, even if that person doesn't actually work at that shop. How does that work as far as taxes and such go? Is everyone an independent contractor? It just wasn't realistic, in my humble opinion. Surely someone has visited Cedar Key and thought it was too small for their liking, that with a town of only 900 or so, everyone would know your business. And with such a small community, again, how can all these businesses thrive as they do?

If you want a light read, something where nothing bad really happens, then this will be the book for you. But if you'd like a dash of reality with your fiction, I would look elsewhere. Cedar Key isn't for you, my friend. And it's not for me, either.


Terri said...

I'm very glad that there wasn't anything wrong with my story that you "could put your finger on." Thank you for your review, but I do hope you'll visit our island some day to see that, yes, people really do fill in and help out at the shops if needed. As far as all the businesses that open....I'm afraid it's only fiction, after all. I'm also sorry that my fiction wasn't realistic enough for you.
All the best......Terri DuLong

Traci (aka the Bookbabe) said...


I sincerely wish you the best with your work. I think perhaps I'm just not your target audience. Or maybe it just wasn't the right time to read this particular book, as the infamous library Nancy Pearl has written in her book "Book Lust". Maybe if I read this same book 10, 20 years from now I will feel differently.

Thanks so much for leaving your comment, as I really do value authors and their endeavors. Again, I do wish you success, and from the reviews I read on Amazon, I seem to be in the minority :-)

Terri said...

I think you could be very correct about reading this in later years...I do have many fans in their 40's, however, most are in their 50's and older. And I think the genre of women's fiction is quite different from romance. Thank you again and by the way....not to worry...I'm usually in the "minority" on major issues. (smile)
Best to you.........

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