After savoring the glorious Betty Neels, Miss Bates read a long-established but new-to-her author, RaeAnne Thayne. Snowfall On Haven Point is the fifth romance in Thayne’s “Haven Point” series, set in the eponymous mythical, idealized Idaho town. Heroine Andrea “Andie” Montgomery is a Portland transplant. She arrived in Haven Point after losing her cop-husband and enduring a sexual assault. Miss Bates appreciated that Andie wasn’t a victim. She’s in a good place: working at her graphic design business, establishing a home with her two adorable kids, Chloe and Will, and building new Christmas traditions in her adopted town. She has made wonderful friends and is considering dating again: she doesn’t allow still-lingering grief and trauma to prohibit her from living life fully and well. The encounter with the curmudgeonly neighbour-hero, Sheriff Marshall Bailey, comes when Marshall’s sister and Andie’s dear friend, Wyn, asks her to check on her injured brother. Though Andie finds Marsh taciturn and even gruff at times, she agrees to deliver meals and make sure he’s all right getting around with a broken leg. A romantic suspense element is introduced when we learn that Sheriff Bailey was deliberately run down in a snowy parking lot while answering a tip from a mysterious caller. (Never mind the TSTL hero: what law enforcement officer would answer a call without back-up?)
Thayne’s Snowfall On Haven Point is one of those romances that elicit neither great praise, nor great criticism. The novel’s first third was its best, mainly because Marshall is such a fun grump. Miss Bates thought Thayne hit the spot with a phrase like, “He didn’t need for her to hate him. He just needed her not to like him,” reinforcing Marsh’s testiness, but hinting at his vulnerability. And, in turn, Andie is so good at standing up to His Crabbiness. It’s important to say, however, that like most grumps, Marshall is a gentle giant and can’t help but treat Andie and her two children was kindness, consideration, and respect. Of course, when the three charm him and bring on smiles and gruff laughter, he’s irresistible to Andie … and the reader. Andie and Marshall sparring and yet establishing a rapport and giving in to some lovely kissing attraction made the first part of Snowfall the most enjoyable. The Christmas details were also lovely, especially one scene where Chloe and Will help grinch-Marshall decorate his Christmas tree.
Snowfall‘s weaknesses are the romantic suspense plot and what Miss Bates calls the MCs-doth-protest-too-much syndrome. While Miss B. was mildly interested in who tried to run down the town sheriff, she found the resolution abrupt and out-of-left-field. The narrative pointed to one set of culprits and ended up on an entirely different one. As Miss B. wasn’t all that invested in that plot-line, she shrugged it off. The more annoying element was the constant back-and-forth attraction-repulsion on Andie’s and Marshall’s parts. They both came up with a lot of lame excuses as to why they shouldn’t be together, excuses without psychological, philosophical, or even practical justification … except to irritate the reader. “Get together already!” Miss B. wanted to shout. Nevertheless, the narrative’s pleasantness and Thayne’s flashes of lovely writing, example: “All those small, tender physical reminders that oiled the creaky and contrary machinery of a marriage,” kept her reading fairly contentedly.
Thayne’s work reminded Miss Bates of Jodi Thomas’s: the prose is fine; the characters, sympathetic; and the theme “all’s right with the world,” a palatable one. With her reading companion, Miss Austen, Miss Bates deems Thayne’s Snowfall On Haven Point as offering readers “real comfort,” Emma.
RaeAnne Thayne’s Snowfall On Haven Point is published by HQN Books and was released on September 27th. Miss Bates received an e-ARC from HQN, via Netgalley.