Top positive review
I Love Hanging Out in Deep Haven
Reviewed in the United States on September 19, 2021
...And this book was no exception. I probably looked forward to this one the most, since it stars Colleen Decker. Ever since You Don't Know Me (original Deep Haven #6), I've wanted to know what happened to Colleen after her trauma and major role in saving her family. Well, Susie May and Andrea did not disappoint with Colleen, nor did they disappoint with the overall story.
Those of you who read my reviews regularly know I am a big character girl. Andrea and Susie sucked me in right away; I loved these characters and their arcs. Additionally, I loved how everyone's personalities had the little quirks and individual tweaking that kept those personalities from being trope-heavy. For instance, yes, Colleen is a former rebel, and she can be reckless. But within the recklessness lies a good amount of fear, and an almost rebellious level of compassion.
Similarly, yes, Jack is a jaded ex-military hero with a dark past, someone trying to carve out his niche beyond what's expected of him. In a lot of ways, Jack is a classic Susan May Warren hero (and now a classic hero type for members of the Sunrise Publishing team). Because of that, had Andrea and Susie not been careful, Jack would've been boring and almost whiny ("I went to prison, that defines me, wah, wah.") Instead, Jack is a true hero precisely *because* he doesn't want to be. He's tough and no-nonsense, but like Colleen, compassionate. I also loved his training scenes, because Jack is such a patient teacher. He also has that little "pop" of creativity with his cooking talent that I don't often see in male characters. I mean, I've seen creative types, especially from Susan May Warren. Jonah Michaels and Ben King, a writer and country singer, come to mind. But it's rare that I get the marriage of creative type plus more straitlaced military type.
As you might guess, Colleen and Jack have a ton of chemistry. They sizzle, and if you've ever sat in on one of SMW's writing seminars, you know a good story has to bring the sizzle. What I loved in Hanging by a Moment though, is how the sizzle shows up in unexpected places. I won't spoil the ending, but it's probably the best example. It turns on the "liar revealed" trope, so you expect the sizzle to come from a break-up-make-up scenario. While that exists, the way the characters get to that point is refreshingly original. The same is true for a scene that happens after Jack thinks Colleen has dumped him for another guy. He and Colleen don't handle this the way I often see it handled, which makes the results so much sweeter.
Beyond the characters, I loved this story's plot. It reminded me of SMW's story starring Aria and Jake, where the couple and secondary cast are in danger from a hurricane rather than military operation issues. Here, we have Colleen, Jack, the Crisis Response Team, and others dealing with everything from allergic reactions to head and neck injuries to blizzards. These are situations regular people face, and so in my humble opinion, they're more relatable. I found myself hanging on every word of the rescue scenes, pardon the pun. Each of them are written in such a way that they not only bring the lead couple together, but cement the hometown feel of Deep Haven. Plus, I loved learning a little more about crisis teams, nursing, and flight nurse training.
Finally, I always love coming home to Deep Haven and this book was no exception. I think this book might be better than the others by a smidge, too. That is, Deep Haven's warm and cozy, "we take care of our own" feeling remains intact. But in Hanging by a Moment, I actually got to see former main characters become secondary characters, and make either good or bad choices in new roles. One secondary character in particular acts like a real jerk at a crucial point. But instead of feeling like, "I remember you, you were a good person, what happened," I felt like, "Yeah. This is what being human can look like--and it's more painful in a small town where everybody's gonna know about it in 12 hours or less." Deep Haven is full of humans. They take care of each other. And warts and all, they lean on God, Who is welcome in every part of every person, not just church.
I'm a little disappointed that the next Deep Haven novella will be the last one. I think Deep Haven has become my reading addiction just as dark chocolate almonds and grahams are my Starbucks addiction. All I can say is, don't knock either until you've tried them. (But try the Deep Haven series first; far fewer calories). And if you haven't read the novellas yet, savor them all, this one included.