Jul 19 2013 2:15pm

The Sweetest Town in America: Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove Series

16 Lighthouse Road by Debbie MacomberDebbie Macomber's Cedar Cove series has enthralled readers for years. Now the series is coming to the Hallmark Channel with the TV show Cedar Cove, starring Andie MacDowell and starts Saturday, July 20 (keep an eye on the site for Heroes and Heartbreakers recaps of Cedar Cove's first season!). See why Rachel Hyland loves the series by Debbie Macomber...

I don't like sex.

No, wait. Let me clarify. I don't like sex in romance novels. It's always been this way with me, for as long as I can remember. Just to be clear: I am not a prude. Nor am I a hundred years old, or with objections based on philosophical or religious grounds. I just...don’t like it. I’ll put up with it, if need be, to get to what is otherwise a really good story, but frankly, I prefer a closed bedroom door policy in my reading, like in old Hollywood movies. I mean, I obviously love to read Romance (and its often close cousins, the various kinds of Fantasy)—else what, exactly, am I doing here at H&H? But I'm in it for the intriguing characters, the clever dialogue, the frequently exotic settings and the occasional mystery surrounding our often fraught and fractious couple as much as I’m in it for their eventual connubial bliss. Hell, I could read about a hero’s secret longing for his secretary/childhood friend/neighbor/business rival all day long, and I am equally interested in our heroine’s reluctant adoration of the man she just last week detested above any other. But when it comes to the bulging of manhoods, the caressing of silken thighs and any form of lovingly (lustingly?) detailed dominance and/or submission, with or without a ballgag...yeah, I pretty much just skim those parts. In fact, with only vanishingly rare exceptions, I usually just skip straight to the afterglow.

Which is why, after wading my way through Anita Blake's latest multi-species orgy, or the deflowering of the latest Cynster conquest, or the attempt by Larissa Ione’s latest anti-hero to save the world using only his expert skill at cunnilingus, I always find it such sweet relief to return to the comforting, PG-rated arms of Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove.

Macomber is one of the leading proponents of “sweet” romances—what we Regency readers call “Trads”—the kind of tale where the course of true love may not necessarily run smooth, but neither does it run all sticky. A notably prolific author even in an industry populated with same, she has many, many strings to her bow, including the Blossom Street Series (romance with knitting!), the Navy Series (romance with sailors—and a little too unexpectedly racy for me, actually) and her many, many Christmas titles (more than twenty, with a new one out this November). But my favorite of all her series is Cedar Cove, and my favorite Cedar Cove novel is the first, and my first Macomber: 16 Lighthouse Road.

Hard to believe, now, that I came so very close to not reading it.

You see, Macomber likes to preface her works with a little introduction to the reader, and I hate this. “Dear Friends,” she begins, and my teeth grate every time. I know, I should be able to ignore these little missives, as I usually do the Acknowledgements with which most books are supplied (they always feel to me like reading someone else’s mail), but for some reason I find it hard not to check out what Macomber has to say about the forthcoming tale, and then I always wish I hadn’t. I mean, if nothing else: Spoilers!

It was, quite honestly, only the fact that I was awaiting a flight long-delayed and had run out of local currency with which to purchase something new that I progressed into 16 Lighthouse Road any further. But by the time I was boarding the plane I was over halfway through it, and was by that stage so utterly enchanted that I ignored the On Demand movies and even the inflight shopping catalogue (and I love inflight shopping! It’s so decadent) in order to discover just what was going to happen with Olivia and Jack, and Cecilia and Ian, and Justine and her creep fiancé, and all the other citizens of this cozy little hamlet.

Tasked with why I—a relatively young woman, and not at all in Macomber’s target “Matron Lit” demo—enjoyed 16 Lighthouse Road, and then its sequels, so much, I would have to say that it is simply that I have never read anything so...delightfully non-confronting as this gentle, oftentimes rambling, small-town saga. The conflicts between these people are all utterly believable (and are therefore, for the most part, pretty prosaic), and the most remarkable thing about almost every character is their utter unremarkableness. The sarcasm rarely bites, the witticisms hardly ever fly, and there is little in the way of scintillating, I-hate-you-but-I-want-you chemistry. It is just ordinary people of several generations (Olivia, for example, is 52 while Cecilia is thirty years her junior, and we also spend a lot of time with Olivia’s sprightly mother, among various other citizenry of the town) going about their lives, and loves, in the impossibly quaint-sounding Cedar Cove, and we’re along for the ride. It’s like the opposite of a reality TV show; a voyeuristic glimpse into a perfectly commonplace, yet fictional, existence, entirely un-sensationalized.

There are, as of this writing, thirteen Cedar Cove books and a spinoff series, plus a couple of novellas. (And I have just this minute discovered that there is even a cookbook!) Whether they deal with scapegrace children or post-menopausal divorcees or unplanned pregnancies—or often all three at once—they have become my total brain comfort food, except when I reach the end of one of these I don’t feel the need for a vigorous workout at the gym to cleanse my body of all those empty carbs. It is the other way around; these cotton candy confections cleanse my soul.

Cedar Cove. Saturdays 8/7cWith the advent of Cedar Cove, the series’ aptly-named television adaptation beginning on Hallmark this July 20th, several of the early books have been rereleased with the show’s star, the preternaturally beautiful Andie McDowell (who plays Olivia), on their covers. No stranger to adaptations—three of Macomber’s books have previously been made movies: Trading Christmas, Mrs. Miracle and Call Me Mrs. Miracle—the show is bound to give the novels a new readership, and I am all for it. Perhaps some of my contemporaries, who occasionally see these covers on my shelves and cock a questioning eyebrow at my “grandma” taste, will come to discover the attraction. On the other hand, since Debbie Macomber’s sales already exceed 100 million, I already know I am not alone.

And in the meantime, I impatiently await the August release of Rose Harbor in Bloom, the next novel to be set in the sweetest town in America. Because before then we’re looking at a new Kitty Norville, a new Kate Daniels and a new Immortals After Dark—not to mention the fact that new Cynster and Anita Blake novels just came out. And I am going to need a healthy dose of sweet to get over all of that sin.

Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove airs July 20 at 8/7c, starring Andie MacDowell. Look for recaps coming soon!

ETA 7/28/13 — Check out Rachel's recap of the series premiere of Cedar Cove!

Rachel Hyland is Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine.

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1. Kathryn@bookdate
I have the first Cedar Cove book to read sitting on my kindle, just finishing off the Blossom St books first. Would love to see the TV series, perhaps it might end up coming to New Zealand, I will keep an eye out in case.
Rachel Hyland
2. RachelHyland
@ Kathryn@bookdate

I am sure the show will end up in NZ -- doesn't all the Hallmark channel output end up as late night/Sunday afternoon fare all over the world? And if not, there's always the inevitable DVD release...

I enjoyed my foray into Blossom Street, but I am just not enough of a crafter to really appreciate it in all its knit-one-purl-one-ness. I've only read the first book in that series -- do you recommend the remainder?
3. Knitter
I am a great fan of Debbie Macomber's writing. Started with the Blossom Street books, which my hobby of knitting led me to. I have read the entire Cedar Cove series. I also read the first book of her new series and pre ordered the second.

Glad to be able to see the characters I loved in Cedar Cove. Looking forward to every visit in this series to there!
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