Saturday, September 28, 2002

Cobb Island

Blayne Cooper
Renaissance Alliance Publishing

Olivia Hazelwood, Liv to her friends, has agreed to take her younger brother, Doug to spend a week on Cobb Island, off the coast of Virginia. Since an accident claimed their parents a decade ago, Livi has been more of a mother than sister to Doug. The 29 year old linguist and openly lesbian, Liv is recently back from a Peace Corps tour in Africa and is looking forward to catching up with the changes in Doug's life. One of the biggest being that he is very much in love with Marcy Redding. Marcy's family moved last year and the teens have been nursing their love over distance. This separation has prompted Marcy to invite Doug (and Liv) to visit Cobb Island, the colonial era, ancestral home of the Redding family. Marcy has also coaxed her older sister, Kayla to help with the chaperoning duties.

The tall redheaded Kayla seems to take an immediate dislike to Doug, and possibly, to Liv. Certainly the gorgeous 25 year old has difficulty communicating with Liv in anything other than an abrupt, rather rude, not to mention secretive, manner. Her behavior is even more odd given that the women seem almost magnetically drawn to one another. Liv is surprised, confused, and a little overwhelmed by the intensity of her feelings for Kayla. Impossibly, at times Kayla seems to read Liv's mind. Or is it impossible? The three century old Redding house itself, with its secret rooms, strange noises, and a library filled with generations of Redding enigmas has as important a role in the story as any of the characters. Several things about Kayla and the house are a little strange, yet enchanting. Liv finds herself falling under the spell of both mysteries. Meanwhile, desperate for time alone, the lovesick teens decide to visit the mainland just as a storm arises, leaving their older siblings stranded and forced to confront these powerful emotions.

Trapped by the storm, the women begin researching the early years of the house. Finding a hidden journal, Liv and Kayla discover possible answers to the Redding family legacy via a third romance. Bridget Redding, and her sister-in-law, Failynn, lived on Cobb Island in the late 1600s and struggled to find a place for their love in an unforgiving time for women, and condemning of those who dared to love. Could their story hold the secret answers to questions about the Redding family, the house on Cobb Island, and possibly even why Kayla and Liv seem destined to have found each other? Thus Cobb Island contains three love stories entwined in its pages along with a number of witty interactions, sweet moments and endearing scenes between the various couples. There is even a dreadful villain who demands being detested.

Overall, Cobb Island is a magical little romance and a charming mystery. A few of the plot threads are not neatly tied at the end and some elements of the historical period appear a bit anachronistic to this reviewer. Nevertheless, the overall effect of Cobb Island is a fun and fast-paced romantic mystery with a touch of spookiness thrown into the mix. It provides more than enough pleasure to justify its purchase. In fact there is enough pleasure to anticipate future stories from Blayne Cooper, including the continued adventures of Kayla and Liv in the forthcoming Echoes from the Mist.

-MJ Lowe

BN: Echoes from the Mist was released in 2006.