Review: Kiss River by Diane Chamberlain


Title: Kiss River

Author: Diane Chamberlain

Published: Mira November 2012

Synopsis: Separated by a continent from her child, Gina Higgins comes to Kiss River with little more than a desperate plan. Now, saving her daughter depends on whether she can uncover a message buried deep below the ocean’s surface. Kiss River’s historic nineteenth-century lighthouse has all but fallen into the sea, taking with it the huge Fresnel lens that once served as its beacon. Gina is desperate to find a way to raise the lens as the glass holds the key to her future, her fortune and her only chance to save the one person who matters to her. Clay O’Neill lives in the old lightkeeper’s house, a home he shares with his sister, Lacey. When Lacey invites her to stay with them, Gina eagerly accepts. As Gina begins her quest to raise the lens, Clay finds himself drawn to her struggle, and to Gina herself. But the answers lie deep below the ocean. And the lighthouse holds secrets that neither Clay nor Gina can anticipate…

Status: Read from November 13 to 15, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Harlequin Australia}

My Thoughts:

The Keeper of the Light was first published almost twenty years ago as a stand alone but was revived in the early 2000’s when Chamberlain decided to use the novel as a springboard for a trilogy, writing Kiss River and Her Mother’s Shadow. This year, the series is being reissued in both print and digital formats to the delight of her fans.

Set twelve years after the events of Keeper of Light, Kiss River introduces Gina Higgins, a science teacher from Washington DC, who has has come to the Outer Banks looking for the miracle she needs etched on the Fresnal lens of the town’s lighthouse. She is devastated to find that the lighthouse was destroyed in a storm, the lens buried in the sea’s sandy depths and desperate, begins to campaign the community to rescue it.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the story of Kiss River. Primarily, I didn’t understand why Gina felt it necessary to lie about her motivation to raise the lens or hide her connection to Kiss River and thought that her deceptions undermined both her character, and the story as a whole.

Even the romance in Kiss River failed to convince me of its sincerity. Clay O’Neill, who lost his wife just eight months earlier, succumbs to Gina’s charms with little more than a token protest despite his grief and her lies. To be fair he doesn’t over extend himself until he learns Gina’s secret, which does evoke sympathy, but it just didn’t work for me.

With the core of the novel so compromised I found it difficult to involve myself in the story and would have given it up if it weren’t for Bess’s story as related through her journal extracts. I thought the historical aspects interesting of this storyline and Bess’s personal tale touching. Bess is a fifteen in 1942, the bright, precocious daughter of Kiss River’s lighthouse keeper. Her diary reveals a tumultuous year of love, betrayal and heartbreak as German U-Boats haunt the North Carolina coast.

I have enjoyed several of Chamberlain’s newer titles like The Good Father and Secrets She Left Behind so perhaps the flaws in Kiss River can be attributed to it being penned not only early in her career but also under some pressure. Kiss River isn’t a complete disaster, and I think the author’s stalwart fans will be satisfied with it, but I thought it a weak example of Chamberlain’s storytelling gifts.

[And just a note – I rarely comment on the covers of novels but I am at a complete loss to explain the relevance of this one to the story at all. ]


Available to Purchase

@HarlequinBooks I @Booktopia I @ Kindle Amazon

via booko

@HarlequinUS I @AmazonUS I @BookDepository

US Cover

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. laurelrainsnow
    Nov 19, 2012 @ 07:33:23

    I have loved every book I’d read by this author, but had somehow missed this one. Probably because it was written awhile ago and now reprinted. I’m going to get a library copy to read, rather than buying one. Thanks for your review.



  2. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting
    Nov 19, 2012 @ 11:21:12

    Sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy this one, Shelleyrae. I quite liked The Good Father, but will probably look to Chamberlain’s more recent fiction rather than going back in time. 🙂

    It can be very difficult to relate to a character who’s intent on deception and lies: it’s a tough trait for an author to pull off!



  3. Marge Tracy
    Jul 10, 2016 @ 01:35:58

    I just finished Kiss River and really enjoyed it. I have questions. Elizabeth and Sandy ( Walter Lipscomb) had a daughter. Elizabeth married Dennis Kittering and gave the baby up for adoption. What happened to the baby and how is it that Gina is the granddaughter of Walter? I wish there a fourth novel telling if Gina and Clay got to bring Rani home.



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