The Dark Winter by Elena Graf (Hobbs book #5)

 I was so anxious to read the next book of the Hobbs series by Elena Graf, because the previous book, Hobbs #4, „Thirsty Thursdays”, left me with more questions than answers and I really wanted to know what happens next with the remarkable characters of the series. How their lives are turned upside town by the pandemic and what new challenges are they facing now? Also, I was waiting for a new addition of characters, so surpriseee…no new ones, but certainly a development of the plot that left me with my jaw hanging, literally.

So, what could I expect? Another fallen angel? I admit, I thought of that. Perhaps….but, in my opinion, not so fast.

„The Dark Winter” is the book #5 in the Hobbs series by Elena Graf.

Let’s do a little summary of the previous Hobbs series books.

The Hobbs series describes the life of a community of lesbian women in their fifties or sixties living at their best in the town of Hobbs, Maine.

In Hobbs book #1 – „High October” we are witnesses of the romantic love between Liz and Maggie, who have loved each other since college, but got separated by Maggie’s parents, she married a man and she meets Liz by accident again after forty years in Hobbs Maine and they fall in love again.

In Hobbs book #2 – „This Is My Body” we are introduced to the most original character  of them all, Mother Lucy, a former opera star at the Met Opera in New York, who has become an Episcopalian reverend and moved to Hobbs Maine, and met and fall in love with Erika, a philosophy professor and Liz’s best friend.

In Hobbs book #3 – „Love In Time Of Corona” we couldn’t wait to see Police Chief Brenda Harrison happy in love. She falls for Cherie Bois, Liz’s new medical assistant, who seems to hate Brenda and she doesn’t know why and how to make Cherie know her, the woman behind the uniform.

In Hobbs book #4 – „Thirsty Thursdays” we are excited (at least I am), to enjoy the love story between sweet architect Sam McKinnon and the almost melting ice queen, retired Wall-Street fund manager, Olivia Enright, who has become one of my favorite characters in the series, because she is just incorrigible.

Coming back to Hobbs book #5 – „The Dark Winter”, I liked the title, because it’s a little unexpected after the Hobbs book #4 – „Thirsty Thursdays”. It is dramatic, and, somehow, it signals towards the end of the pandemic, yet still the characters are in the middle of it, because no anti-covid-19 vaccine has been created yet. I loved the book cover as it impersonates a storm on the sea at Hobbs, but I know that the storm will end at one point and the sun will shine bright again. It can mean an approachable end of the pandemic and to all the turmoil the characters have been through all this time.

As in the previous book, Liz is struggling with her medical care, paying the employees and the bills from her own pocket and keeps a keen eye on the Hobbs inhabitants to be as covid-19 free as possible and keeps good reports on them, especially on the ones who had the disease and she almost sees the light at the end of the tunnel, when one of the companies developing anti covid-19 vaccines is interested in her little project on the covid-19 reports.

Maggie’s performing activities have stopped because of the pandemic and she is hoping for a new start at the Webhanet. Although, she and Lucy had some performances at her home in the media room with Alina’s help, everyone is tired of Zoom meetings and hope for live performances soon enough.

Mother Lucy is also struggling keeping her church at bay with the finances and she has a secret sponsor. And, surely a new convert.

Lucy is evoked in a different light in this book. The passionate priest finds herself in a contradiction between her religious persona and her humane persona.

Brenda and Cherie face a new challenge that sets Brenda’s job at risk. You’ll never guess who her „savior” will be. No, it’s not Mother Lucy. This was one of the brilliant ideas Elena Graf had in this book.

Sam, also, has a hard time with her renovating business, as people can’t afford renovations now, so she focuses on her home and on her blooming relationship with her girlfriend Olivia.

Olivia is still trying to fit into the close group of lesbian friends in Hobbs and wants Sam more, yet she seems reluctant to give up her Victorian house, to move in with her girlfriend. Also, the ice queen can’t melt that easily, she needs a new challenge, and of course, she will have it.

I like her more in this book, still I am left hanging in there…..what is she up to next?

Now, about that „wrong” kiss from Hobbs book #4 – „Thirsty Thursdays”, the „fallen angel” struggles to be forgiven and all seems to be well, yet it’s obvious that it will trigger something.

There are two unexpected turning points in this book.

The first one was a real shock to me. I still can’t recover.

And, although unexpected, it will open the Pandora’s box.

The second turning point comes somehow expected, because of what it lead to it, but the way it was „delivered” was revengeful.

This is my favorite book from the series, because it holds everything an amazing novel could do: love, drama, realistic themes like covid-19 and black lives matter, friendship, tenderness, forgiveness, revenge and passion.

The remarkable characters are working hard to overcome the effects of the covid-19 pandemic, which caused depression, financial problems, job losses, addiction, even suicide attempts. It is absolutely believable and I can see ourselves playing their roles.

They can’t be perfect as nobody is in this new condition the pandemic has brought upon us all. They are flawed and I love that about them, because they are more credible and more reliable (more humane).

Flawed characters present a sense of relief in reminding ourselves that complex thoughts, feelings, and desires are not as uncommon as we might think.

I still love Liz –  „A fallen idol is still a god.” (Elizabeth Cheresh Allen)

Then, I love Lucy even more, because the part of her presented in „The Dark Winter” is really unique. She is one of the most complex characters I have ever read about. Elena Graf created the most unexpected situations Lucy could have gone through to become more original than she already is.

Of course, Olivia has so much potential left.

The ending is mind blowing and keeps the readers at the edge of their seat.

What will happen next?

(Received and ARC from the author)

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