I was a precocious child, learning to read at a very young age, and I’ve been a voracious reader ever since. I can remember one summer when my mom actually grounded me from my books and forced me outside to play with the neighborhood children. Can you imagine such a thing?
I’ve always found it easy to get lost in a good book, but I’ve never been much for writing reviews. So when Walmart asked if I’d be interested in reviewing the latest book in Debbie Macomber’s Rose Harbor series, Rose Harbor in Bloom, I was a little hesitant, but ultimately I agreed to do it — and I’m so glad that I did.
Rose Harbor in Bloom is the second book in the Rose Harbor series which revolves around Jo Marie Rose, a widower who lost her husband to a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. After her husband’s death, she purchases a quaint bed and breakfast in Cedar Cove, a small town near Seattle, Washington, which she renames the Rose Harbor Inn after her late husband.
Though most of her family and friends advise against her decision, it turns out that Jo Marie is a natural host, always anticipating her guests’ needs and going out of her way to make them feel comfortable and at home in her establishment.
Hospitality is a strong theme throughout the books, as is good food as a means of developing relationships with others, which I could definitely relate to, and it was very enjoyable to watch her form friendships with other locals over coffee or tea and her home-baked treats (like homemade peanut butter cookies).
Rose Harbor Inn seems to attract troubled guests. In Rose Harbor in Bloom, the story revolves around Mary Smith, the Shivers, and Annie Newton, who each have their own set of issues to work through. It seems as though the inn is a place of healing, both for Jo Marie’s guests and ultimately for herself, and I found myself emotionally invested in all of these mini story lines, enjoying seeing how they developed throughout the book and their ultimate resolutions.
Though Jo Marie is still healing herself, we see a deepening of the relationship she has with Mark Taylor, the gruff and rough-around-the-edges handyman that Jo Marie hired in the first book, The Inn at Rose Harbor. Mark is definitely very intriguing, and I’m looking forward to seeing how their relationship evolves in future books.
Overall, I found Rose Harbor in Bloom to be a delightful and mostly light-hearted read that left me wanting to know more about these characters. I’m such a sap since having kids, but I alternated laughing and crying through the entire book, and I’d definitely recommend checking it out.
Homemade peanut butter cookies are a favorite of both Jo Marie and Mark, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to share my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe with you! These have a light texture with a bit of crunch, thanks to my special ingredients — honey and extra crunchy peanut butter.
- 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
- 1 cup extra crunchy peanut butter
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- With an electric stand or hand mixer, beat together softened butter and peanut butter on medium to high speed until well combined, about 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar and honey and beat again on medium to high speed until combined. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Stir the flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture on low.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and place the dough in the refrigerator to chill while the oven preheats.
- Using a medium cookie scoop, shape the dough into 1.5" balls and place on a parchment or Silpat-lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
- Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 9 minutes, until outer edges are just starting to brown. Let cool on the cookie sheet for about 3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
If you’re interested in picking up Rose Harbor in Bloom, it will be released on Tuesday, August 13th. Walmart will be offering it at 40% off the publisher’s list price — pick it up in stores or online for just $15.60!