The Inn at Rose Harbor

by Debbie Macomber

Book Details

Publisher: Ballantine Books
First Published: August 14, 2012
Format: Trade Paperback, Mass Market Paperback, Hardcover, e-Book, Large Print, Audiobook
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ISBN-13: 978-0-553-39365-1
Pages: 358
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About the Book

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber comes a heartwarming new series based in the Pacific Northwest town of Cedar Cove, where a charming cast of characters finds love, forgiveness, and renewal behind the doors of the cozy Rose Harbor Inn.

Jo Marie Rose first arrives in Cedar Cove seeking a sense of peace and a fresh start. Coping with the death of her husband, she purchases a local bed-and-breakfast—the newly christened Rose Harbor Inn—ready to begin her life anew. Yet the inn holds more surprises than Jo Marie can imagine.

Her first guest is Joshua Weaver, who has come home to care for his ailing stepfather. The two have never seen eye to eye, and Joshua has little hope that they can reconcile their differences. But a long-lost acquaintance from Joshua’s high school days proves to him that forgiveness is never out of reach and love can bloom even where it’s least expected.

The other guest is Abby Kincaid, who has returned to Cedar Cove to attend her brother’s wedding. Back for the first time in twenty years, she almost wishes she hadn’t come, the picturesque town harboring painful memories from her past. And while Abby reconnects with family and old friends, she realizes she can only move on if she truly allows herself to let go.

A touching novel of life’s grand possibilities and the heart’s ability to heal, The Inn at Rose Harbor is a welcome introduction to an unforgettable set of friends.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Last night I dreamed of Paul.

He’s  never  far  from  my thoughts—not a day  passes  when  he isn’t  with  me—but  he  hasn’t  been  in  my  dreams  until  now.  It’s ironic,  I suppose, that  he should  leave me, because  before  I close my eyes I fantasize  about what  it would  feel like to have his arms wrapped around me. As I drift off to sleep I pretend that  my head is  resting  on  his  shoulder. Unfortunately, I  will  never  have  the chance  to be with my husband again,  at least not in this lifetime.

Until last night,  if I did happen to dream  of Paul, those  dreams were  long  forgotten by  the  time  I woke.  This  dream, however, stayed with me, lingering in my mind, filling me with equal parts sadness  and joy.

When  I first  learned  that  Paul  had  been  killed,  the  grief  had been  all-consuming, and  I didn’t  think  I would  be able  to go on. Yet life continues to move forward, and  so have I, dragging  from one day into the next until I found  I could  breathe normally.

I’m in my new home  now,  the bed-and-breakfast I bought less than  a month ago on the Kitsap  Peninsula in a cozy town  on the water  called  Cedar  Cove.  I decided  to name  it Rose  Harbor Inn. “Rose” for Paul Rose,  my husband of less than  a year; the man  I will always  love and  for whom  I will grieve for whatever remains of my own life. “Harbor” for the place I have set my anchor as the storms  of loss batter me.

How  melodramatic that sounds, and yet there’s no other  way to say it. Although I am  alive,  functioning normally, at  times  I feel half dead.  How  Paul would  hate hearing  me say that,  but it’s true. I died with Paul last April on some mountainside in a country half a world  away as he fought  for our nation’s  security.

Life as I knew it was over in the space of a single heartbeat. My future  as I dreamed it would  be was stolen from me.

All the  advice  given  to  those  who  grieve said  I should  wait  a year  before  making   any  major   decisions.   My  friends  told  me  I would  regret  quitting my job, leaving my Seattle home,  and  moving to a strange  town.

What  they  didn’t  understand was  that  I found  no  comfort in familiarity, no joy in routine. Because I valued their opinion, I gave it six months. In that  time nothing helped,  nothing changed. More and more I felt the urge to get away,  to start  life anew,  certain  that then  and  only then  would  I find peace,  and  this horrendous ache inside me ease.

I started my search  for a new life on the Internet, looking  in a number of  areas,  all  across  the  United  States.  The  surprise  was finding exactly  what  I wanted in my own backyard.

The town  of Cedar  Cove sits on the other  side of Puget Sound from Seattle. It’s a navy town,  situated directly  across  from the Bremerton shipyard. The minute  I found  a property listing for this charming bed-and-breakfast that  was up for sale, my heart  started to  beat  at  an  accelerated rate.  Me  own  a  bed-and-breakfast?  I hadn’t  thought to take over a business,  but instinctively I realized  I would  need something to fill my time. As a bonus, a confirmation, I’d always  enjoyed  having  guests.

With its wraparound porch  and incredible view of the cove, the house  was breathtaking. In another life I could  imagine  Paul and me sitting on the porch  after dinner, sipping hot coffee and discussing our  day, our  dreams. Surely the photograph posted  on the Internet  had been taken  by a professional who’d  cleverly masked  its flaws. Nothing, it seemed, could  be this perfect.

Not  so. The  moment I pulled  into  the  driveway  with  the  real estate  agent,  I was embraced by the inn’s appeal. Oh  yes, with  its bright  natural light and  large  windows that  overlooked the cove, this B&B felt like home already. It was the perfect place for starting my new life.

Although I  dutifully let  Jody  McNeal, the  agent,   show   me around, not a single question remained in my mind. I was meant  to own  this bed-and-breakfast; it was as if it’d sat on the market all these  months waiting   for  me.  It  had  eight  guest  rooms   spread across the two upper  floors, and on the bottom floor a large, modern  kitchen  was  situated next  to  a spacious dining  room. Originally built  in the early 1900s, the house  looked  out on a stunning panorama of the water and marina. Cedar Cove was laid out below along  Harbor Street,  which  wound through the  town  with  small shops  on both  sides of the street.  I felt the town’s  appeal  even before I had the opportunity to explore  its neighborhoods.

What  attracted me most  about the inn was the sense of peace I experienced the moment I walked  inside.  The heartache that  had been my constant companion seemed to lift. The grief that  I’d carried with  me all these  months eased.  In its place  came  serenity,  a peace that’s difficult to describe.

Unfortunately, this  contentment didn’t  last  long,  my eyes suddenly flooding  with  tears  and  embarrassing me as we finished  the tour.  Paul would  have loved this inn, too. But I would  be managing the  inn  alone.  Thankfully the  real  estate  agent  pretended not  to notice  the emotions I was struggling to disguise.

“Well,   what   do  you  think?” Jody  asked   expectantly as  we walked  out the front  door.

I hadn’t  said  a word  during  the entire  tour,  nor  had  I asked  a single question. “I’ll take it.”

Jody  leaned  closer  as if she hadn’t  heard  me correctly. “I  beg your pardon?”

“I’d like to make an offer.” I didn’t hesitate—by that  time I had no doubts. The asking price was more than  fair and I was ready to move forward.

Jody  almost  dropped a folder  full of detailed  information  regarding  the property. “You  might want  to think  about it,” she suggested.  “This  is a major  decision,  Jo Marie. Don’t  get me wrong, I’m eager  to  make  the  sale;  it’s just  that  I’ve never  had  anyone make such an important decision  so . . . quickly.”

“I’ll think  about it overnight, if you want, but there’s no need. I knew right away that  this is it.”

The instant my family  heard  that  I intended to quit  my job at Columbia Bank and  buy the B&B, they all tried  to talk  me out of it, especially my brother, Todd,  the engineer.  I’d worked my way up to  assistant manager of the  Denny  Way  branch, and  he feared  I was  throwing away  a promising career.  Todd  knew  that  I would eventually be named  manager. I had  given almost  fifteen years to the  bank, had  been  a good  employee,  and  my future  in banking was bright.

What  the people  around me failed  to understand was that  my life as I’d known it, as I’d wanted it, as I’d dreamed it, was over. The only way I could  achieve fulfillment  was to find myself a new one.

I signed the offer for the inn the next day and not for an instant did my resolve waver.  The Frelingers, who owned  the B&B, gratefully accepted my offer, and within  a matter of weeks—just before the holidays—we gathered together at the title company and signed all the tedious, necessary  paperwork. I handed them  the cashier’s check,  and  accepted the keys to the inn. The Frelingers  had  taken no reservations for the last couple  of weeks  in December as they intended to spend time with their children.

Leaving  the title  company, I took  a short  detour to the courthouse  and  applied  for  a name  change  for  the  inn,  christening it with its new name,  the Rose Harbor Inn.

I returned to Seattle and the next day I gave Columbia Bank my notice.  I spent the Christmas holiday  packing  up my Seattle condo and  preparing for the move across  Puget Sound.  While I was only moving  a few miles away,  I might as well have been going halfway across the country. Cedar  Cove was a whole other world—a quaint town  on the Kitsap  Peninsula away  from  the hectic  world  of the big city.

I knew  my parents were disappointed that  I didn’t  spend  much of the holidays with  them  in Hawaii, a family tradition. But I had so much to do to get ready for the move, including sorting  through my things  and  Paul’s, packing, and  selling my furniture. I needed to keep occupied—busywork helped keep my mind off this first Christmas without Paul.

I officially moved into the house on the Monday following New Year’s Day. Thankfully the Frelingers  had sold the inn as a turnkey business.  So all I needed  to bring with  me were a couple  of chairs, a lamp  that  had  belonged  to  my grandmother, and  my personal items.  Unpacking took  only a few hours.  I chose as my room  the main  floor bedroom suite the Frelingers  had set aside as their own area;  it had  a fireplace and  a small alcove that  included a window seat overlooking the cove. The room  was large enough  for a bedroom set, as well as a small sofa that sat close to the fireplace. I particularly enjoyed  the  wallpaper, which  was  covered  in  white and lavender hydrangeas.

By the  time  night  descended  on  the  inn,  I was  exhausted. At eight,  as rain  pelted  against  the  windows and  the  wind  whistled through the tall evergreens  that  covered  one side of the property, I made my way into the master  bedroom on the main floor. The wild weather made  it feel even cozier  with  a fire flickering  in the  fireplace. I experienced none  of the strangeness of settling  into  a new place. I’d felt welcomed by this home from the moment I’d set foot in the front  door.

The  sheets  were  crisp  and  clean  as I climbed  into  bed.  I don’t remember falling asleep, but what  so readily comes to mind is that dream  of Paul, so vivid and real.

In grief counseling, I’d learned  that  dreams  are important to the healing   process.   The  counselor  described two  distinct   types  of dreams. The  first  and  probably the  most  common are  dreams about our loved ones—memories that  come alive again.

The  second  type  are  called  visitation dreams, when  the  loved one actually  crosses the chasm between  life and death  to visit those he or she has left behind. We were told these are generally  dreams of reassurance: the one who has passed reassures  the living that  he or she is happy  and at peace.

It’d  been  eight  months since  I’d received  word  that  Paul  had been killed in a helicopter crash  in the Hindu Kush, the mountain range  that  stretches between  the center  of Afghanistan and  northern  Pakistan. The  army  helicopter had  been  brought down   by al-Qaeda or one of their  Taliban allies; Paul and  five of his fellow Airborne Rangers  had been killed instantly. Because of the location of the crash it was impossible to recover  their bodies.  The news of his death  was  difficult  enough, but  to be deprived of burying  his remains  was even more cruel.

For days after I got the news, hope crowded my heart  that  Paul might  have  actually  survived.  I was  convinced that  somehow my husband would  find a way back to me. That  was not to be. Aerial photographs of the  crash  site soon  confirmed that  no  one  could have possibly survived.  In the end, all that really mattered was that the man  I loved and  married was gone. He would  never return to me, and  as the weeks and  months progressed I came to accept  the news.

It’d taken  me a long time to fall in love. Most  of my friends had married in their  twenties, and  by the time they were in their  mid- thirties, the majority had already  started their families. I was a godmother six times over.

On the other  hand, I had remained single well into my thirties. I had  a busy,  happy  life and  was involved  in both  my career  and family. I’d never felt the need to rush into marriage or listen to my mother, who  insisted  I find a good  man  and  quit  being so picky.  I dated  plenty  but there  was never anyone  I felt I could  love for the rest of my life until I met Paul Rose.

Seeing that  it’d taken  me thirty-seven years to meet my match, I didn’t expect  love to come to me twice. Frankly, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to  fall in love again.  Paul  Rose  was  everything  I’d ever hoped  to find in a husband . . . and so much  more.

We’d met at a Seahawks football game. The bank  had given me tickets  and I had brought along one of our more prominent clients and his wife. As we took  our seats, I’d noticed  two men with military  haircuts sitting  next  to me. As the game progressed, Paul introduced himself and his army buddy and struck up a conversation. Paul told  me he was stationed at Fort  Lewis. Like me, he enjoyed football. My parents were keen Seahawks fans, and  I’d grown  up in Spokane watching the games on television  after church  on Sundays with them and my younger  brother, Todd.

Paul asked  me to have a beer with him as we left the game that afternoon, and  we  saw  each  other   nearly   every  day  after.   We learned  we shared  much  more  than  a love of football: we shared the same political  inclinations, read many of the same authors, and loved  Italian  food.  We even had  a Sudoku  addiction in common. We could  talk  for hours  and  often  did. Two  months after  we met, he shipped  out  to Germany, but  being separated did little to slow our  budding relationship. Not  a  day  passed  that  we  weren’t  in contact  in  one  way  or  another—we  emailed,   texted,  Skyped, tweeted, and used every other  available  means  we could  to stay in touch.  Yes, we even wrote  actual  letters  with  pen  and  paper. I’d heard  about people  claiming  to  have  experienced “love  at  first sight”  and  I had  scoffed.  I can’t  say it was like that  for Paul and me, but it was darn  close. I knew  a week after we met that  he was the man  I would  marry.  Paul said he felt the same way about me, although he claimed  all it took  was one date.

I will admit  this:  love changed  me. I was happier than  I could ever remember being. And everyone  noticed.

At Thanksgiving a year ago, Paul flew back  to Seattle on leave and asked me to be his wife. He even talked  to my parents first. We were crazy in love. I’d waited  a long time and when I gave him my heart,  it was for forever.

Right after our wedding in January, Paul got orders  for Afghanistan.  The  helicopter went  down  on April  27,  and  my world  imploded.

I’d never  experienced this  kind  of grief and  I fear I handled it poorly. My parents and brother worried for me. It was my mother who  suggested  grief counseling. Because I was desperate to find a means  to ease my pain,  I agreed.  In the end I was glad I attended the sessions. Doing so helped me understand my dreams, especially the one I had that  first night at the inn.

Contrary to  what  I’d been  told  about visitation dreams, Paul did nothing to reassure  me he was at peace.  Instead, he stood  before me in full military  gear. He was surrounded by a light that was so bright  it was hard  to look at him. Even so, I found  it impossible to turn  away.

I wanted to run to him but was afraid  that  if I moved,  he would disappear. I couldn’t bear to lose him again even if this was only an apparition.

At first he didn’t speak. I didn’t either, unsure  of what  I could or should  say. I remember that  emotion filled my eyes with  tears  and I covered  my mouth for fear I would  cry out.

He joined  me then  and  took  me in his arms,  holding  me close and  running his hand  down  the back  of my head,  comforting me. I clung to him, unwilling to let him go. Over and over he whispered gentle words  of love.

When the lump in my throat eased, I looked  up at him and our eyes met. It felt as though he was alive and we needed  to catch up after  a long absence.  There  was so much  I wanted to tell him,  so much I wanted him to explain. The fact that  he’d had such a large life insurance policy  had  come  as a shock.  At first I’d felt guilty about  accepting such  a  large  amount  of  cash.  Shouldn’t  that money  go to his family?  But his mother was dead,  and  his father had  remarried and  lived in Australia. They  had  never  been  especially close. The lawyer told me Paul had been clear in his instructions.

In my dream  I wanted to  tell Paul  that  I’d used  the  money  to buy this bed-and-breakfast and that  I’d named  it after him. One of the first improvements I wanted to make  was to plant  a rose garden  with  a bench  and  an arbor. But in the dream, I said  none  of that  because  it seemed like he already  knew.

He brushed the hair from my forehead and kissed me there ever so gently.

“You’ve  chosen  well,”  he whispered, his eyes warm  with  love. “In time you’ll know  joy again.”

Joy? I wanted to argue  with  him.  It didn’t  seem likely or even possible.  One  doesn’t  heal  from  this  kind  of pain.  I remembered how  my family and  friends  had  struggled  to find the right  words to  comfort me.  But  there  are  no  words  . . . there  simply  are  no words.

And yet I didn’t argue with him. I wanted the dream  to last and I feared  that  if I questioned him he would  leave, and I wanted him to stay with me. A peaceful  feeling had come to me, and my heart, which  had carried  this heavy burden, felt just a little lighter.

“I don’t  know  that  I can live without you,” I told  him,  and  it was true.

“You  can  and  you  will.  In fact,  you’ll  have  a long,  full life,” Paul insisted.  He sounded like the officer he’d been, giving out orders that  were not to be questioned.

“You  will  feel joy  again,” he  repeated, “and much  of  it will come from owning  Rose Harbor Inn.”

I frowned. I knew I was dreaming, but the dream  was so vivid I wanted to believe it was real.

“But . . . ” My mind filled with questions.

“This  inn is my gift to you,” Paul continued. “Don’t doubt, my love. God will show you.” In the next instant he was gone.

I cried out,  begging  him to come back,  and  my own  sharp  cry woke  me.  My  tears  were  real,  and  I could  feel moisture on  my cheeks and pillowcase.

For a long time afterward I sat upright in the dark  wanting to hold on to the feeling of my husband’s presence. Eventually it faded and almost  against  my will I fell back asleep.

The next  morning, I climbed  out  of bed and  traipsed barefoot down  the polished hardwood floor of the hallway  to the small office off the kitchen. Turning on the desk lamp, I flipped through the pages  of the  reservation book  the  Frelingers  had  given  me.  I reviewed the names  of the two guests due to arrive that  week.

Joshua  Weaver  had made  his reservation just the week before  I took  ownership. The former  owners  had  mentioned it at the time we signed the final papers. The second  name on the list belonged  to Abby Kincaid. Two guests.

Paul had said this inn was his gift to me. I would  do my best to make  both   guests  comfortable; perhaps,  in  giving  of  myself,  I would  find the joy Paul had  promised. And maybe,  given time,  it would  be possible  for me to find my way back to life.

Reading Guide

1. Debbie chose a bed-and-breakfast in the fictional Pacific Northwest town of Cedar Cove, Washington, as the backdrop for The Inn at Rose Harbor. How do you think the choice of a bed-and-breakfast versus a hotel or motel impacts the story? How is the depiction of Jo Marie’s bed-and-breakfast different or similar to your travel experiences?

2. In The Inn at Rose Harbor, the bed-and-breakfast turns out to be a place where its innkeeper and her guests heal from different kinds of heartache. Have you ever had a similar experience, where a trip or a stay in a certain place turned out to be so much more than you thought it would be, more than just a vacation or a respite from work and the stress of everyday living? If so, share the miracle of this trip and how it impacted your life, as the stay at the Rose Harbor Inn forever changed the lives of Jo Marie’s first two guests.

3. Cedar Cove quickly embraces Jo Marie Rose as one of its own. What qualities does Jo Marie possess that enable people to warm to her so openly? Do you think her ease in settling into the community of Cedar Cove had more to do with her personality or with the nature of the town—or both?

4. One of the recurrent themes in The Inn at Rose Harbor is second chances—that it’s never too late to start over, to adopt a fresh outlook on life. Which character struggling to overcome the past do you relate to the most and why?

5. As the story begins Richard is a difficult, unsympathetic character. Do you feel that he changes by the end of the book, and if so, how? Did his journey make you feel any different about someone in your life?

6. Jo Marie decides to have a rose garden planted at The Inn at Rose Harbor. What significance does this rose garden have for Jo Marie?

7. The one thing Josh hopes to retrieve from his stepfather when he returns to Cedar Cove is his late mother’s Bible. What memento or heirloom from a family member do you treasure and why?

8. Abby’s chance encounter with an old high school friend, who welcomes her back to Cedar Cove with honest enthusiasm, is the spark that gradually enables Abby to reconnect with those she loves and to begin to forgive herself. She also seeks forgiveness once again from Angela’s parents. Discuss the challenges and differences between forgiving yourself and forgiving others. Do you think one is more important than the other?

9. How does Jo Marie grow from the beginning of the story until the end? How have her guests, and her budding relationship with Mark, enriched her life and opened her to life’s possibilities?

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