The Story: As the Gilded Age comes to a close, Elena Bissette’s once-wealthy family has nearly lost its fortune. The Bissettes still own a home on fashionable Mackinac Island, where they will spend one last summer in the hope of introducing Elena to a wealthy suitor. But Elena is repulsed by the idea of marrying for money.
Quickly tiring of the extravagant balls, Elena spends most evenings escaping back into Mackinac’s rugged forest. There she meets Chase, a handsome laborer who shares her love for the night sky. The two begin to meet in secret at an abandoned lighthouse, where they work together to solve a mystery buried in the pages of a tattered diary.
As Elena falls in love with Chase, her mother relentlessly contrives to introduce her to Chester Darrington, the island’s most eligible bachelor. Marriage to the elusive millionaire would solve the Bissettes’ financial woes, and Elena is torn between duty and love.
via the publisher
My Thoughts: Elena’s story, one of a young woman whose wealthy family must learn to adapt after a bad rap from a business partner sees their fortune gone, is not a new one. It begins with she along with her parents arriving to the island to summer at their home for possibly their last year. Unsure what she wants from it, the one thing Elena is certain of is that in order to save her family she will have to marry but first she wants to enjoy every moment that her mother doesn’t dictate – the times when she is “free” to be whomever she wants, without the constraints of proper dress or the disapproving frowns of society. Back-dropped on a lovely island in a time when expectations of women was to marry well, this novel may not have been my favorite but it is a pleasurable read.
A new author for me, Dobson weaves a tale that is rich with its character’s but also detailed down to the smallest thing in historical facts. Not being a detail person myself, I found that distracting and not easily overcome. Her propensity to feature half a dozen characters in so many scenes also become more of a burden than a good thing considering it makes a difficult time of keeping everyone straight. The rapid conversation of the ladies summering at Mackinac while sipping their tea left me confused as to who everyone was and why they were worthy of gossip. Once I was 70-some pages in, it seemed to smooth out as I grew to know the players. When first I met Chester Darrington, he seemed to leap off the page as prime hero material and my first though was, “Elena is going to throw him over for someone else?!” Though not a new story, I liked the small twist Dobson threw into her story. Instead of placing Elena smack dab in the middle of a love triangle she instead falls in love with the same man her mother has pinned her hopes on having as a son-in-law. They just don’t know it yet!
The fascination Elena had with stars was a good building block for her to bond with Chase. Though the pair don’t meet until one-hundred some pages in – something I thought charming as everything was brilliantly built around that meeting with mystery left hinging on that – the relationship that develops between Chase and Elena is cute plus there is no shortage of chemistry. Chase’s reaction to “Andy” as he first calls Elena – unaware of who she is, is sweet; I absolutely loved it. Likewise, Elena is intrigued by Chase but she is still uncertain where her future with a man like him could go. If there is a flaw embedded in this relationship, it isn’t given enough time to grow to warrant the intense reaction and disappointment both feel when they learn who the other person really is. If you aren’t looking to be satisfied by a sweeping romance but prefer a rich history lesson, this novel is full of interesting tidbits. Irrespective of the things that didn’t compute for me, ‘Mackinac’ was a tale that affects its own charm.
In Summary: Though too weighed down with detailed facts for this reader, ‘Mackinac Island’ is still a sweet summertime read for fans of any of the prior books Summerside has published under the “Love Finds you” series of location novels.
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing this copy for reviewing purposes
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