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A Review: “North of the Tension Line”

“North of the Tension Line” by J. F. Riordan. Submitted photo.

By J. F. Riordan

This is a novel that defines the meaning of “a good beach read.”

Two women in search of a change in their lives; an unpredictable male business owner; a dare; Washington Island in the winter; a predictable ugly neighbor; prince charming rushing to the rescue; and, the frosting on the cake, a loveable dog and an irascible goat.

Not the ingredients for a blockbuster bestseller, but set it in Door County, mostly on Washington Island, and it is sure to find an audience.

Fiona and Elizabeth are best friends. Ephraim is their escape from the hectic life they live in the city. Ephraim’s village coffee shop, run by the taciturn Roger, is their daily gathering place. One day, during casual conversation, friends dare Fiona to live on Washington Island for one winter.

Thus begins her series of misadventures: her impulsively purchased island home has many unexpected and uninvited guests, and construction projects abound. Fortunately, she is befriended by islanders who welcome her, and they almost make up for Stella, the next door neighbor from hell.

This reader was especially intrigued by Roger, the coffee shop owner. His unconventional courtship of Elizabeth is well written and his behavior is reminiscent of an individual with Asperger syndrome. He’s believable and likeable.

Elizabeth is warm, wise, a “live and let live” lady. She is comfortable in her own skin, no apologies necessary.

However, Fiona, Stella and Pete (“prince charming”) lack depth. A good editor might have helped the author develop these characters into more believable individuals instead of predictable stereotypes.

Heading to Florida or Arizona for the winter? Here’s your read as you relax around the pool.