Shore Lights by Barbara Bretton is the first novel in the Paradise Point NJ series. It’s a warm hearted romance that I really enjoyed immersing myself into.
From the onset, it’s pretty clear where the story is going to end up but that doesn’t matter a jot as it’s the journey to get there that’s the fun part. Maddy Bainbridge is a thirty something single mother, who returns to her home town of Paradise Point after fifteen years. In doing so she finds not only herself but a handsome, single father called Aidan O’Malley.
Bretton’s skill lies in the way she has created a world within a world in Paradise Point. It’s a small community where everyone knows and cares about each other. The main characters of the novel and within the town are the DiFalcos (Maddy’s family) and the O’Malleys. Conflicts are explored and resolved within the story but a strong sense of family is never far from the surface.
I really like Maddy; she is just the right combination of gutsy and vulnerable. She’s struggling not only to find her way with her own daughter but with her estranged mother as well. The miscommunications that are tearing Maddy and her mother apart are probably something that we can all relate to.
Aidan is the perfect romantic hero, he’s endured lots of heartache but manages to be an excellent father and retain his decency and kindness. I really like the way Bretton doesn’t put obstacles in the couple’s way but rather allows them to support each other through the difficulties that occur.
Bretton also does a great job of making the novel seem contemporary and relevant. The characters and dialogue is realistic, punchy and at times hilarious. She also begins Maddy and Aidan’s romance via email, where they open up to each other before they realise their true identities.
The novel is made even cosier by the fact that it is set in the run up to Christmas and Paradise Point is in the grip of a snow blizzard. That said Christmas is not such a major theme that the story can’t be enjoyed at any time of the year. Although I’m sure it would be the perfect read for the festive season.
Despite the novel being essentially a feel good read, Bretton does touch on serious issues and handles them sensitively and realistically. There is the impact that broken families have on children, how people deal with serious illness and bereavement. Most poignantly there is also old age and dealing with the realisation at the end of your life that it may not have been well lived. The only slight criticism that I have is that 70% into the story it takes a supernatural turn that didn’t really work for me. However, I know that lots of other readers will enjoy the paranormal twist.
Shore Lights is the kind of novel that you can really lose yourself in and if you like romance I think you will love this one. By the end of the story I found myself wanting to get the next ticket to Paradise Point and I will definitely be catching up with DiFalcos and O’Malleys in the rest of their series.