Title: The Cottage on Juniper Ridge by Sheila Roberts
Life in Icicle Falls Book Four
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
How to Change Your Life…
Can a book change your life? Yes, when it’s Simplicity, Muriel Sterling’s guide to plain living. In fact, it inspires Jen Heath to leave her stressful, overcommitted life in Seattle and move to Icicle Falls, where she rents a lovely little cottage on Juniper Ridge. And where she can enjoy simple pleasures—like joining the local book club—and complicated ones, like falling in love with her sexy landlord, Garrett Armstrong.
Her sister Toni is ready for a change, too. She has a teenage daughter who’s constantly texting her friends, a husband who’s more involved with his computer than he is with her, and a son who’s consumed by video games. Toni wants her family to grow closer—to return to a simpler way of life.
Other women in town, like Stacy Thomas, are also inspired to unload their excess stuff and some of the extra responsibilities they’ve taken on.
But as they all discover, sometimes life simply happens. It doesn’t always happen simply!
It is probably not a stretch to say that at some point most everyone has experienced an overwhelming need for a simpler, less complicated life. The desire to walk away and begin again in a new place, with less, of well, everything. In Sheila Roberts’ The Cottage on Juniper Ridge this is exactly what Jen Heath does and while she sometimes wonders if she made the right decision, she is thrilled with the new life she discovers.
Jen is stressed to the breaking point working two jobs just to make ends meet. With little personal time, rushing from one job to another, she reaches the conclusion she hates her life. A book about simplifying her life really hits home and she impulsively moves to the small town of Icicle Falls to enjoy a slower pace of life with fewer commitments. Jen easily settles into her new life, quickly makes new friends and finds a part-time job. She is also very interested in her new landlord, single dad Garrett Armstrong, but he continues to hold her arm’s length.
Jen and Garrett might share an attraction, but Jen reminds him a little too much of his irresponsible ex. The old Jen would have been perfect for him, but he sees the new Jen as too flighty and too fun loving. He spends most of the novel pushing her away and she is continually reminding herself he does not approve of her. And then there is the fact that Garrett is dating a local cop and Jen is not out to steal another woman’s man. But as Jen and Garrett are about to discover, the heart sometimes has a mind of its own.
Jen’s sister Toni is happily married but she is feeling disconnected from her too plugged in family. Her husband’s job means logging time on the computer at home after hours and her teenage daughter’s texting habit interferes with family time. Helping Jen move to Icicle Falls, Toni is reminded of happier times and when she reaches her breaking point, she schedules an idyllic mountain vacation for her family. But will their newfound closeness last once they are back in the “real” world?
Stacy Thomas is an empty nester who is feeling a little lost now her kids have moved out. Her home is devoid of kids, but she has plenty of stuff to fill any bare spots. A show about hoarders and a discussion at her monthly book club provide her with a new perspective about de-cluttering her life and opens the door to a surprising career opportunity.
There are a lot of characters and secondary story arcs in The Cottage on Juniper Ridge but each one is distinct and the overall story is easy to follow. The characters are beautifully developed and Sheila Roberts does an excellent job of blending all of the various sub-plots into a cohesive and enjoyable novel.
While there is a bit of a romantic element to The Cottage on Juniper Ridge, it is a mainly a story of friendship that stresses the importance of finding balance in everyday life. All in all, it is a lovely read that old and new fans of the Life in Icicle Falls series won’t want to miss!