Sunday, February 17, 2013

On Photojournalism: A Review of Fair Haven by JoAnn Ross

Fair HavenI originally read this book years ago, when i was thirteen or fourteen and just discovering romance novels. I remembered a few things about it--that it talked a bit about The Troubles in Ireland, that it involved the hero taking in a daughter that he never knew he had, and that the heroine was a doctor. If that seems like a good set up, you can imagine why I wanted to reread it.

 Michael was a photojournalist who traveled to some seriously rough areas to document war and human suffering. He's hung up his camera to return to a quiet life of farming, when an old woman arrives on his doorstep with an eight year old girl that she claims is Michael's daughter. Michael takes her in fairly willingly, and is soon charmed by her bright imagination. Erin, our heroine, comes to town to take over as the local doctor for a friend who is dying.

One of the things that I forgot about this book, and this author's work in general, is her willingness to include the possibility of a little supernatural, a few quiet miracles, in her otherwise purely contemporary work. Nora Roberts often does something very similar. She has ghosts that show up and talk to people, and no one really makes a fuss about it. The children talk of guardian angels and magical creatures with a conviction that they must be real. I find it an interesting way to add depth to the story.

I had also forgotten how emotional this book is. The dying doctor, for example, I had forgotten entirely. Then there's a conflict in which Shea, Michael's daughter, appears to be suffering from seizures with unknown causes. Michael's attachment to Shae is probably the sweetest part of the book. He's a wonderfully loyal and caring father.

The romance itself is passable. It's sweet and hot when it needs to be, but it gets pushed aside for the other conflicts fairly often. I found their individual character development more engaging than their relationship development, so it sort of fails that way.

In any case, I liked many aspects of this book, the second time around as well as the first. It's worth reading if you like contemporary books with an Irish country setting. 4 stars.

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