The narrative of Sand Dollar weaves back and forth through the life of Noah Hartman to tell a story of the undying love of soul mates and the trials and rewards of following one’s heart. As the story begins, Noah is about to be married to Sarah, a beautiful young woman who has his parents’ approval and his trust and devotion. Just as Sarah is about to walk down the aisle, the ceremony is interrupted by Robin, the free-spirited but damaged girl who left Noah with a broken heart years before. She tells him that leaving him was a mistake and that she remembers her love for him. We are left with Noah standing uncertain between the two women, not knowing whether to choose his true love or the woman who is a reliable friend.
Next we see Noah at eighty, in the hospital for reasons he can’t remember. He tells Josh, a hospital orderly, the story of himself and Robin and the ups and downs of their relationship over the years. In his late thirties, although he seems to have it all – money, a fancy car, a house on the beach and a secure job with his father’s company, Noah feels trapped by his parents’ strict control of his life. He longs to break free and make it on his own, to live a real life and make his own mistakes, but isn’t brave enough to challenge his parents. The night he meets Robin at a dance club, he is enchanted by her free spirit and the two are instantly drawn to each other. Yet Robin has problems of her own that made it difficult for her to stay in a relationship. After finding and losing Robin several times, Noah, despite his heartache, is inspired by her to finally start his own business and live his own life. Although Robin never leaves his heart, he eventually finds some happiness with Sarah and the two arrange their wedding when she becomes pregnant. As Noah recounts the events of the wedding to Josh, he sees the course of his relationship with Robin with a new clarity, and the choice he made is finally revealed. Will Noah take this final chance to be with his true love?
In the tradition of Nicholas Sparks, whom Cole cites as his favorite author, Sand Dollar is a sentimental love story about finding and losing one’s soul mate. Cole metes out important information at a good pace, keeping the reader as baffled as Noah by Robin’s strange changes of heart, and carefully manipulates details to lead to a real surprise ending. Although he often simply describes the feelings of Noah and Robin, rather than fully developing key scenes to make the reader really fall for them and feel their emotions, both characters have enough charm to keep us interested in their fate. Anyone who has felt that they missed an opportunity for love and wishes for a second chance will find themselves relating to Noah. His quest to find the courage to live his own life is inspiring, and his struggles in this area will likely hit home for a lot of readers as well. Some really lovely and romantic scenes add to the story’s appeal.
Quill says: Sand Dollar is a touching romance with the hopeful message that it’s never too late to reconnect with a lost love, or to take a chance and follow your heart. (Reviewed by Cory Bickel for Feathered Quill Book Reviews