Monday, April 9, 2018

Firefly Cove by Davis Bunn

Firefly Cove by Davis Bunn

I read the first book in the Miramar Bay series last summer and enjoyed it, so I was glad to read book two for review. 

Let’s begin with the summary:

I have this, Lucius thought to himself. I have today.

Since the age of seven, Lucius Quarterfield has known he is dying. Doctors told him he had a “bad ticker” and might not live to see his next birthday. But somehow, the frail yet determined boy managed to hang on and surprise everyone. The bullies who teased him. The family who neglected him. The professionals who offered little hope for a normal life. To their surprise, Lucius not only survived to adulthood, he thrived, turning a small car dealership into a successful chain. But now, at twenty-eight, his time is finally running out. So he’s returning to the one place he ever felt happy, near the only woman he ever truly wanted—the California seaside town of Miramar Bay…
Was it so much to ask, a healthy tomorrow shared with a woman he loved?

Jessica was the only daughter of the only dentist in town. An ardent reader and fan of Jane Austen, she was able to follow in her father’s footsteps, as he desired. But Jessica preferred the simple things in life—a trait that captivated Lucius from the moment he arrived in town on business. Her carefree approach to living and playful, quick wit were a breath of fresh air to a man who devoted all his time to work. They were complete opposites and perfect complements. Soon they were falling head over heels—until Lucius pulled away, to spare her the pain of his inevitable fate. Now, after all this time, he won’t put her through that again. His days are numbered. And whatever happens—with Jessica or anyone sharing his journey—he’s going to make each moment count. Because he knows that everything is about to change . . . he just can’t know exactly how. 

And now, my review:

The setting and a few of the characters overlap from book one to two, but this story stood alone, for the most part. Readers won’t be lost if they do not read Miramar Bay first.

Much of the book’s opening (to about 7%) is backstory, which is rather unengaging as it’s mostly telling. Beyond that, the storytelling and prose are strong throughout. Unfortunately deep POV lacked in some areas, with several cliffhangers where readers expect to see reactions and/or deeper emotional explorations. Those cliffhangers reminded me of a screenplay where the advice to writers is to get in late and get out early, regarding scenes. Readers expect a bit more depth and emotional payout in novels, and I felt these end-of-chapter cliffhangers preempted that because readers are kept at a distance. There were also a couple of POV missteps here and there where the POVC somehow knew a different character’s experience. 

Lucius is a broken man, and it’s easy to sympathize with him and root for him the whole story. The summary above gives more insight into Jessica’s characterization than I recall in the book, but I appreciated her tenacity and willingness to love unconditionally.

The fantasy/sci-fi aspect surprised me and left me wondering what the author was trying to say. But a second chance? That’s a great hook, especially when that possibility is impossible. There’s a taste of hope in tragedy. 

I liked the psychological aspect. And I appreciated the level of research. Though I noticed in Miramar Bay that this author tends to present elements out of order, those instances were still jarring here. (Telling us how someone sounds before they speak or summarizing a scene before he shows us the characters acting out the scene on the page.) 

Whenever the story drifted from the central hook (which was Jessica and Lucius and their transcendent love for each other), the story lagged. I skimmed a bit until we returned to this thread.

Overall, I found this novel’s approach to a second chance interesting, if a bit confusing in terms of biblical doctrine. But no one promised us a biblical tale. 

Readers who are looking for a clean love story that is outside the box will appreciate this novel.