Let me begin by saying I enjoyed this book. But it is deeply flawed. A novel consists of many parts. The writer should be able to write. The characters should be believable. The narrative should flow along to hold the reader's interest. And the story must be consistent. The first three parts are pretty much okay in the book. I read it with interest, got the characters, and it moved along nicely. But then the last part got me. The book is not consistent. Now, what do I mean by that. First, let me say that writing a novel is very difficult. It may seem easy, but it is not. You have to set a style, stick to it, and have all the plots and subplots converge at the end. This is true even if the book is part of a series. The Girl in the Lighthouse starts out as a historical novel. It tells of a young girl whose father is a lighthouse keeper in Maine. A lot is made of the two boys she befriends. All well and good. But suddenly she is transported to Georgia and finds herself in the clutches of a romance novel with an evil grandmother. Now don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with romance novels. They are usually very good stories. But the people who buy them know they are buying a romance. If you think you are reading a historical novel and it morphs into a romance, you might question what happened. And if you are going to be sent to an evil grandmother, the reason for it must be made clear. And what motivates her to evil must be hinted at, if not exactly stated. It is not enough to build up to a startling ending that tries to explain it all. For a hundred pages you are being told how awful this person is. And for those hundred or so pages you are totally in the dark.
I think the author is better than this. It is clear that the story is not finished. You realize there must be a part two when you finish it. This is very unfair to the reader. If I were editing this book, I would have had Sanford chop out a good deal of the book because it does not advance the story. The 'romance' between Lillian and Warren stays in the same place for too many pages. The reader gets the idea and wants to move on. And if I were the editor I would have slapped her hand every time she typed "his sea green eyes." The beginning of the book was excellent. The second half was too long, too lacking in motivation, and too much like a romance novel, when it should have been the continuation of a historical novel.
This book demonstrates the problems with self published books. There are two types of editing. First is copy editing, which finds misspellings, typos (and should have noticed that the Kindle edition does not indent paragraphs, which can be awfully confusing). The second type is content editing. Does the story make sense? Is the flow correct? Is the grandmother filled out. An author will always listen to a copy editor. Most think they don't need the other type. Big mistake.
The book has become very popular and that's good. I just wish it was a little more finished. And I wish I had found out if Heath became a doctor without having to read the second book (or the third).