Back in December I read a series by Thayne (Haven Point) that I actually ended up really enjoying. They were what I think of as low-drama romances – just everyday little stories taking place in some random small town somewhere, and The Cliff House was similar in type. This one bordered, honestly, with Women’s Fiction, as the romance wasn’t really central to the plot. Most of the story is really about two sisters, Daisy and Beatriz, and their aunt, Stella, who raised them after their mother died when they were around 10. Adoption is a theme that seems to keep popping up in my reading lately, and it was a central part of this story as well.
After taking in Daisy and Beatriz, Stella also fostered many other children, and even started an organization to support and help foster/adoptive families. One of her foster sons went on to marry Beatriz and become a now-famous rockstar. When our story opens, Bea has been divorced from her husband for several years, and lives with their daughter, who is now (I forget) around 10 or 11. Bea is realizing that she has romantic feelings for an old friend of hers, also her neighbor, and is trying to figure out how to further the relationship, when the ex-husband comes back to town, full or repentance for letting Bea go and wanting to patch things up with her.
Meanwhile, Daisy has lived her life with a very tight rein on her emotions thanks to the trauma and difficulties she suffered when they were children, before they came to live with Stella. One interesting aspect of this story was a bit of exploration on how things can impact us as adults – when Daisy and Bea were living with the drug-addicted mother, constantly on the brink of being homeless and hungry, Daisy felt like she was the one who had to care for and protect Bea. As an adult, Daisy has become very focused on making sure that she has a secure job, good savings, back-up plans, etc. Bea has remained the more free-spirited one of them, sometimes frustrated by Daisy’ refusal to loosen up. Anyway, a new guy moves to town and is immediately drawn to Daisy, and I actually really enjoyed their relationship/story probably the most out of three. I had a lot of empathy for Daisy, who finds it difficult to express a lot of emotion, and doesn’t completely understand why people would want to do that anyway.
The final thread in the book is Stella, who is now around 40, and despite raising so many children throughout her life yearns for one of her own. She has secretly decided to go through with artificial insemination, and at the beginning of the story has just found out that she is actually pregnant. She’s absolutely thrilled, but also a little terrified, and not completely sure how to share the news with Daisy and Bea. While she’s still processing all of that, her college boyfriend – to whom she was practically engaged – moves into town. Now widowed, he and his daughter are looking for a place to settle down. I also really enjoyed this story of Stella working through her past and accepting that maybe her future wasn’t going to turn out exactly as she planned.
I’m not sure why I enjoyed this book. It wasn’t full of excitement or big twists. It was just a quiet book about three women who love one another all arriving at a crossroads in their lives. There are a lot of themes of family, sisterhood, acceptance, and courage. While the story could be slow in spots, it never felt like it was dragging.
I had a few quibbles. I felt like the relationship between Bea and her friend/neighbor wasn’t as developed as the others, possibly because we’re told that they’ve been friends for years. But it was hard to get a grasp on how well they would really deal together because the potential for “more” than friendship means that their friendship itself is a little rocky when we meet them. I also got frustrated with both Daisy and Stella from time to time for withholding information from people who care about them, in a few instances just so the plot could be furthered rather than because that was what seemed like the natural thing for them to do.
Also – I feel like the title doesn’t really match the story. All three women live in different houses, and it didn’t particularly feel like there was “a” house that bound them together, so I’m not even completely sure which house IS “the” cliff house?? It seemed like an odd choice for the title.
Still, all in all a 4* read and one that I recommend, especially if you like your romance to be on the women’s fiction-y side of the spectrum.