Justine Hoffman is the owner of the Artist’s Point Bed & Breakfast on San Juan Island. Growing up with a mother fearful of putting down roots in any community, Justine has created a stable life for herself on the island, finding a purpose for herself in running the inn and nurturing friendships with some of the year round residents. However, as Justine’s life has become more her own creation she is more aware of the one thing it has lacked, true love. In a search for answers Justine turns to her family heritage of witchcraft and an ancient spell book called the Triodecad to find any reason to why her heart has been so guarded against falling for another person. The answer she finds is devastating; she has been cursed never to fall in love.
Dabbling in magic she doesn’t completely understand, Justine manages to cast a counter curse on herself, breaking the spell and opening herself to real love. There may have been forces outside of Justine’s perceptions at work as well, because just as she manages to break a lifelong curse on her heart, the one man who could capture it or break it apart has come to the island. Jason Black is a multi-millionaire software developer who wants to purchase land on San Juan Island to build a corporate campus. Other than the land grab, his motivation for traveling to Washington have more to do with Justine’s spell book and the power that he may find within it to change his life.
Within the story there are several ideas that come up about what makes a person who they are as well as what constitutes a soul. Without getting into spoiler territory and not trying to play arm-chair philosopher, I tended to disagree with most of the points the characters make about what the soul is, how important it is and what may happen when we pass on. For one character, they come to understand that they were born without a soul and that when they die they will cease to exist. Setting aside any questions about what happens after death; it is unfathomable to me to consider a character of a story without that very vital part of what makes us human. I am much more of the idea that the soul is what is built up from the experiences we have from birth until that last day, forming over time the unique person that we call ourselves. Excuses are made for the character, saying that the soul doesn’t dictate emotions or thoughts, but nothing is ever clearly explained about what a true soul means to someone who possesses it.
If the author was going to introduce this idea of a soulless person finding their soul mate then I wish she had made more of an effort to show some chemistry between the main characters. This lack of tangible emotional build up for Justine and Jason was perhaps made worse since the whole motivation for Justine’s character was finding a true love of the kind that would affect every part of her being. I never got that intensity from their interactions with one another. Jason was too controlling and Justine was too passive for there to be a real connection other than a sexual one. For many scenes I felt like the author was telling me they were in love, and I know that the characters were telling one another they were in love, but as the observer in their romance I didn’t get the same impression. The love that I did perceive for Jason and Justine never felt like a burning, everlasting love that could make the impossible possible; I felt this lack of passion diminished the climax of the story when a true sacrifice is made by both characters for each other.
I did like the idea of modern day witches and covens practicing their crafts side by side with existing in a world more focused on science and industry. Ms. Kleypas was able to pull in a sense of nature around Justine’s character to balance the more modern feel that came from Jason. She was never presented as an Earth-mother type and he wasn’t quite a complete technophile, but there were enough of those elements surrounding the two of them to help the reader see what completely different backgrounds the two came from. I actually wish that there were more of these smaller details added to build out the characters rather than the more blatant ideas that I found less palatable.
Crystal Cove will be a pleasant book for a Contemporary reader who may enjoy a hint of the paranormal within their stories. The otherworldly portions of the story are well woven into the relationship aspects, creating a balance that is sometimes lacking in straight Paranormal genre titles. Even if I wasn’t as captivated by all of the elements of the story, there is a good plot running underneath that kept things moving at a very good pace.
~Reviewed by Sara
Book: Crystal Cove
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Other Books in the Friday Harbor series: Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, Rainshadow Road, Dream Lake