A recently widowed woman moves to a small town with her children and slowly falls in love with a charming and handsome widower. Deborah Robinson, a mother of two teenagers, is still recovering from the death of her beloved husband. Seeking a refuge, she moves her family to her grandmother's old home in the quintessentially southern small town Sanctuary Cove on a sleepy South Carolina island. In the picturesque setting and with the nurturance of friends, Deborah begins to come out of her grief and succeeds in opening up her own bookstore. The only complication in her newly reclaimed life is another stranger to the island.
Asa Monroe lost his wife and son years ago and now travels the country, never staying in one place long, waiting for his application to Doctors Without Borders to be accepted. His latest touchdown point is Sanctuary Cove.
Smart, strong-willed Deborah and handsome, kind-hearted Asa are attracted to each other at first sight. At first, Deborah suppresses her desire out of a sense of loyalty to her husband. Even after her friends convince her she shouldn't deny herself the right to fall in love again, Deborah is hesitant to take the next step, knowing that with the end of the winter, Asa will leave Sanctuary Cove. Ignoring her attraction becomes difficult, however, as Asa takes a job at her newly-opened bookstore and all-but declares his intentions to court her.
Meanwhile, Deborah helps her children deal both with the loss of their father and normal teenage trials. She works hard to get her sumptuous bookstore The Parlor off the ground and to find her place in the tight knit community of distinctive characters.
Deborah and Asa can only deny their passion for so long, and Deborah's caution can't stop her from loving the charming widower. When their relationship becomes physical it is better than either had ever imagined. However, when the winter ends both of them are still uncertain about the future of their relationship, and Asa makes good on his dream of joining going overseas with DWB. After he's gone, Deborah discovers she is unexpectedly pregnant. Underestimating just how in love with her Asa is, she tries to keep the pregnancy a secret from him. Thankfully, her children intervene and tell Asa about his child. Both of them finally realize the depth of their devotion for each other. Asa comes home to marry Deborah.
Best part of story, including ending:
The pace was slow and the description lush. The characters were unconventional in terms of age, marital status, and race. Personally, I thought the small town charm crossed the line to cloying, though others may find it enjoyable
Best scene in story:
Asa comes to dinner at Deborah's and finds himself at odds with her teenage children. Asa describes his own history of loss, which causes the children to make peace and accept he can be good for their mother.
Opinion about the main character:
Deborah is an excellent mother and a woman who doesn't allow her age and history to limit her. At times it comes off as though she is searching for things to angst about, making artificial barriers to her being happy with Asa.