Review: Stuck in Manistique by Dennis Cuesta

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☆☆➹⁀☆5 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

 

What It’s About:

Near the midpoint of the Upper Peninsula, along a Lake Michigan bend of shore, is the town of Manistique, Michigan. Mark had never heard of Manistique before the death of his estranged aunt, but as sole beneficiary of Vivian’s estate, he travels there to settle her affairs. As Mark tours his aunt’s house for the first time, the doorbell rings.
Days after graduating medical school, Dr. Emily Davis drives north, struggling with her illicit rendezvous on Mackinac Island. She never makes it—on the highway near Manistique, her car collides with a deer, shattering the car’s windshield. Stranded for the night, Emily is directed to a nearby bed and breakfast.

Maybe it’s a heady reaction, the revelation that his aunt, an international aid doctor, ran a bed and breakfast in retirement. Or perhaps he plainly feels pity for the young, helpless doctor. Regardless, Mark decides to play host for one night, telling Emily that he’s merely stepping in temporarily while his aunt is away.

As a one-night stay turns into another and more guests arrive, the ersatz innkeeper steadily loses control of his story. And though Emily opens up to Mark, she has trouble explaining the middle-aged man who unexpectedly arrives at the doorstep looking for her.

Will these two strangers, holding on to unraveling secrets, remain in town long enough to discover the connection between them?

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Guest Reviewer Tom’s Thoughts:

Stuck in Manistique by Dennis Cuesta is a delightful story reflecting the charm and seclusion of small town rural life in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Our main character Mark finds his way to Manistique to wrap up the affairs of his recently deceased Aunt Vivian.  Being her closest next of kin, Mark inherits Vivian’s home that Vivian, unbeknownst to Mark, has been running as a Bed and Breakfast.  Emily, who turns out to be in need of temporary lodging while passing through, finds the B&B by way of referral when all the other local inns are full.  Though Mark has no intention of keeping the house, let alone managing a B&B, he reluctantly agrees to take Emily in as a result of her predicament.  This provides the jumping off point for an engaging tale of life in the peaceful and secluded North Woods.

To Mark’s dismay (an the reader’s delight) Author Cuesta then delivers a further parade of chance visitors to the B&B to deftly create a comedic backdrop on which the entire story thrives.  Added to the fun is a healthy dose of romantic tension building between Mark and Emily.  The tension is further enhanced as Cuesta subsequently reveals a substantial, yet coincidental, past link between the pasts of Emily and Mark’s aunt Vivian.

The story reaches a sublime crescendo as our reluctant in-keeper Mark, despite his efforts to politely turn people away, has his hands full once the B&B becomes fully booked. Author Cuesta then expertly details the ensuing chaos with an aplomb that will have you laughing out loud.

As one who grew up in Milwaukee and vacationed frequently in the Upper Peninsula, I can truly attest that Cuesta nails the charm and flavor of Yooper life in such a way that will rekindle fond memories for anyone who has travelled there.

This book is charming, fun, and delightfully written.  The only criticism I have for this outstanding read is a personal one:  I would have preferred a different ending to the story.  My feelings here are by no means a criticism of the author’s excellent writing, outstanding character development, or engaging story line.  It is merely a matter of personal preference, one that in no way deters me from highly recommending this wonderful book.

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