Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Book review: BLUE HEAVEN by Cynthia Harrison


With a tight budget and two months, Eva Delacroix has to turn six dilapidated cottages on Lake Huron into a shabby chic tourist destination. Fulfilling her father's renovation dreams and her own needs for family, Blue Heaven is Eva's last resort.

Daniel Bryman will do anything in his power to stop city girl Eva from destroying the integrity of the historic structures his ancestor built. But as they work together to rebuild the main cabin, Eva's determination makes him question his own life choices.

Despite their opposing views, they do agree on what to do with the attraction between them. When everything they've built threatens to crash down around them, will love be enough to save Blue Heaven?


She knew it was him before she flicked on the porch light and turned to see his black Lexus in the driveway. She stood outside her door, waiting for him.
            “Hi.” He smiled at her, but his face held concern.
            She wondered why he’d come back, but her voice had shut down. Had he known, after all the strength she’d shown in resisting him, that tonight she’d feel naked and needy? That, after Marcus, and Lily, she felt stripped somehow, right down to her lonely, yearning soul?
            “I worried maybe Marcus had come back. Just wanted to check everything was okay.” Daniel reached out a hand and laid it on her arm, just above her elbow. She felt the warmth of his touch right through the sleeve of her shirt.
            “No, he didn’t.” She shook her head, trying to shake off her vulnerability, too.
            “Are you okay?”
She was fine about Marcus. Seeing him today had made her realize that, at least. She was over him, without regret.
            “It was harder than I thought to let Lily go,” she admitted.
            “What was her mother like?”
            “Fine. They’re close. Lily is where she needs to be.”
Eva shivered when Daniel dropped his hand from her arm.
            “Well, if you’re sure, then,” his words said goodbye but his body stood still, the two of them encased in the glow of the porch light.
            “Want to come in?” She opened the screen door.
            “Sure.” He relaxed into a comfortable ease, making her realize he’d been worried for her. Not the project. Not the Bryman legacy. Her. This was personal. Daniel cared about her.
            As they went through to the living room, she snagged a bottle of cognac someone had brought to the party. She didn’t
have any fancy crystal snifters, so the clear plastic glasses she’d used for the punch would have to do.
            “This is nice,” Daniel said, toasting her with his drink. “Just us.”
            “No teenagers,” she said, the taste of the liquor, heavy as honey, strong on her tongue.
            “No pizza.”
            “No blaring television.”
            “We sound like old people,” Daniel said, then laughed.
            Her heart twisted. To grow old with Daniel. The idea was as sweet, deep, and mysterious as the cognac. And, like the liquor, it went right to her head, making her almost dizzy with longing.
            But Daniel had made it clear he was finished raising his family. There would be no growing together for the two of them. And yet, here they were.
            She looked at him. His eyes searched hers. She couldn’t think straight. Her mind tumbled out random firings, the way his
shirt held the smell of the rain, the way he smiled at her as he reached out to pull her close, the feel of the denim of his shirt as she put her arms around his waist. Her last thought before he kissed her was that he wanted her in that simple, uncomplicated way that men wanted women. And right now, she wanted him, too.

Every now and then a blurb or a cover really hits me and I wind up grabbing hold of a book and impulse reading at the expense of everything else in my life. Hungry cats stare with pleading gazes. Forlorn children don't understand why I'm not dropping my book to come to their rescue. Mr. Snark might even go to work lunchless.

I have a problem and I admit it. I hear the way my family whispers--book addict. Compulsive reader. They probably want me to seek therapy but no one is brave enough to dare suggest it. Sometimes, if I'm lucky, the writing doesn't stand up to the packaging and I manage to escape the story's mystic thrall.

BLUE HEAVEN wrapped me up and didn't let go until I finished the final chapter, blinking my way past tears in order to make out the final words. It's a warm, cozy contemporary romance set in a small Michigan town. Cynthia Harrison has a style like home. Her words are a love song. Her story smells like apple pie.

Eva is a thoroughly loveable heroine. A former marketing professional who is attempting to change careers in a bad economy. The restoration of Blue Heaven, a cottage tourist resort, is more her father's dream than her own but she's making a go of it on a shoe string budget. She is highly sympathetic but far from perfect. I cared about her immediately and rooted for her the entire story.

The hero, Daniel, initially comes across as an odd duck, handsome but unfriendly. As the story progresses, the author reveals his charisma, his compassion, and his complexity. He's a frustrated banker who really wants to be a builder. A man with an extreme fetish for his family history, including the architectural history his great-grandfather left behind.

Eva and Daniel work together to restore Blue Heaven. Even as they are drawn together, real life concerns regarding differing wants and desires keep them apart. The romantic tension is wonderful, compelling without being forced, and the couple never resorts to petty bickering even though they do not always get along. Love scenes were sensual and the best sort of aphrodisiac.

Secondary characters are interesting and add another layer of complexity to the story. I especially liked Daniel's friends and his brother. Lily irritated me but in a good way. Every supporting cast character had a role that enriched the story instead of distracting from it. I also like how the town's past and the buildings evolved into more than simply setting, but rather also became characters.

I'm not BS'ing when I call this romance heart-warming. I cried and I can't recall the last time that has happened since an old man used a million balloons to turn his home into an airship.

I received BLUE HEAVEN during a free day on Amazon. I didn't even warn the author that I'm reviewing her today so I hope she's not angry with me.

Author Bio:

The big news here now is The Wild Rose Press release of my third romance novel, Blue Heaven.  This is the first in a series of tourist town novels set at a resort on Lake Huron. The resort is in shambles when Eva sets out to find a new career and rehab her family’s vacation spot. She gets a little help from some new friends, although one of them will betray her. I like exploring the idea of community, particularly small town life and the tight bonds that hold these folks through good times and bad. Putting my final touches on the second in the series, aiming for a May 2014 release.  The Paris Notebook is my first novel available in paperback (eBook too!)  I also have a free short story on my website site–the love story of minor characters from The Paris Notebook. Click to read or download Sarah’s Survival Guide.

A while back I took the indie train to publishing my first novel, Sister Issues. And incidentally got hooked on Twitter. I seldom remember to plug my novels but find the site informative and addicting:) Follow me @CynthiaHarriso1. I follow back!

I’m currently hard at work on the next in my Blue Lake series.

My very first book, Your Words, Your Story was published in December of 2007. It’s non-fiction, part creative memoir, part how-to writing manual, inspired by the creative writing classes I teach at the local community college. I have been a staff reviewer for Romantic Times and Publishers Weekly and written features for popular magazines, including Woman’s World.  My short memoir “Snow Day” was anthologized in A Cup of Comfort for Divorced Women in 2009.

In 2010, my poem “Africa” and memoir ”Snow Day” both won awards in the Detroit Working Writers annual writing competition.

My life might seem like it’s all about reading and writing, and increasingly these days, tweeting, but I love my family and friends. I’m into stargazing, gardening and yoga and am married to Al, sweetest man on the planet. We have two grown sons, Mike and Tim, both blissfully married to their soul mates. That’s Mike’s wife Jessica on the cover of Sister Issues with her sister Meg. I love that picture!

Email me anytime at Or catch me on Twitter: @cynthiaharriso1.


  1. I'm with you - that blurb was amazing. So well done, and tongue-in-cheek - Blue Heaven was her last resort! Brilliant. Now I'm eager to read it, especially if it moves a reader to tears.

    1. Gemma, Not just the blurb but the cover is so much fun! It's a great read. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. :)

      Thanks for leaving a comment!