Book One of the Milford-Haven Novels, based on the author's own hit BBC Radio Drama, introduces the beautiful coastal town and its several residents, including protagonist Miranda Jones. An ambitious young woman whose paintings are beginning to succeed in the competitive art world, she is also on an internal personal journey to establish her own sense of spirituality and purpose. Author Mara Purl is a former soap opera celebrity from Days of Our Lives, as well as a former journalist from the London Financial Times and the Associated Press. Through her novel series she has established a loyal following in the Women's Fiction genre. Short stories appear as prequels to each novel, extending the five-book series.
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A new series set in coastal California lured me into its depths this weekend. I spent an enjoyable, but sometimes unsettling two days reading What the Heart Knows by Mara Purl, a Milford-Haven novel. Mara Purl delves into the psyche of her characters with numerous paragraphs to reveal a character’s thoughts. I especially like that Mara provides a list of characters at the end of the book, and would appreciate if more authors followed this practice. The scenery swims around the characters in the words of Mara and through the eyes of Miranda Jones, an artist. Cattiness and deception flow from many of the women, and true friendship shimmers in the distance. Ruthlessness and aloofness gush from the men, who hide any hint of feeling. I see the characters on a disastrous journey with the ice berg hiding, but ready to plummet the individuals into chaos. Mara utilizes the scenery and nature in the story to provide a sense of calm and danger, as the reader wonders what has become of Christine Christian.
Reading What The Heart Knows was a bit like taking a step back into time. I’d be reading along and think, “Why didn’t she use her cell phone?”, only to remember that not everyone had cell phones1990s. There are a lot of twists and turns in this story, which keep the reader interested and engaged. While Miranda is the primary character, there are so many other interesting people coming to life in almost every chapter, I found myself referring to Purl's cast of characters at the back of the book to determine who was who and where they fit. Purl writes in a serial-type style that signals the reader to watch for the next installment. I really enjoyed the descriptions of Miranda’s paintings, of the scenery in and around Milford-Haven, and of the lives of some very complex people. This is a series that I hope doesn’t end for a long time to come.