As you can surmise from my copious posts, I LOVE to read. But as a reader I feel as though I am supposed to poo-poo light, fluffy books for real *literature*. After all, if its beach reading, what are you really getting out of the book? So, I keep thinking I should not like Debbie Macomber's books. But, ya know what? I do. They are light. They are definitely feel good. You don't have to worry that a character is suddenly going to go wrong. In the end everything works out, everyone is happy - even if they have gone through some difficult struggles in the course of the book. There is no overwhelming moral to the books. There is no "Hmmm..." moment when reading The Dakota Trilogy. But, I stayed up until 1:45 am last night to finish the book. If nothing else, that should signal a good story.
I do have to wonder, nonetheless, exactly how Debbie Macomber does what she does. She must release two or three books (at an absolute minimum) every year. How does one feasibly write that much? Even were she to write every day she must edit her work at some point. I wonder at times if there is some secret computer program where an author can plug in characters and plot points and then let the computer fill in the blanks. How else could she have written 150!! books since 1983. The three Dakota Trilogy books were all published within one year. And there were a handful of other books published in that same two year time-frame. Or maybe she has a fleet or writers who do much of the work for her. Somewhat like the Carolyn Keene/Nancy Drew phenomenon . There never was a Carolyn Keene; it was merely a pseudonym for various authors who created the Nancy Drew series over a long-span of years. At the very least, it is clear that Macomber's books follow a very pat formula. Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, trouble ensues, all he** breaks loose, boy and girl realize they love each other despite everything. Everyone lives happily ever after.
The story in Always Dakota very clearly follow that formula. It continues where the previous two novels left off. In this book the main characters are Matt and Margaret, minor characters from Dakota Home, the second book in the series . But, it also continues the story of the characters from the other two books and resolves some open-ended questions that Macomber had left hanging in the second book. There were moments that brought a tear to my eye as families negotiated family dynamics.
All in all: Light, fluffy, entertaining? Without a doubt. A great read if you want something truly mindless and feel good. Literature, no. Deep and thoughtful, no. A good summer read.