Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe

Review copy provided by Gallery Books

Series: The Beach House (Book 5)

Hardcover: 400 pages

Publisher: Gallery Books (May 22, 2018)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1501193295

ISBN-13: 978-1501193293

 

Description:  Cara Rutledge returns to her Southern home on the idyllic Isle of Palms. Everything is comfortingly the same, yet each detail is rife with painful memories. Only through reconnecting with family, friends, and the rhythms of the lowcountry can Cara release the hold of the past and open herself to the possibility of a new love, career, and hope for the future.

Meanwhile, her niece Linnea, a recent college graduate who doesn’t know where her life will take her, leaves her historic home in Charleston, with all its entitlement and expectations, and heads to her aunt’s beach house. On the island, she is part of the freer, natural ocean lifestyle she loves, rejoining the turtle team, learning to surf, and falling in love. Remembering the lessons of her beloved grandmother, Lovie, the original “turtle lady,” Linnea rediscovers a meaningful purpose to her life and finds the courage she needs to break from tradition. (publisher)

My take:  Readers return to Isle Of Palms, South Carolina to find Cara moving back to her mother’s beloved cottage for a new chapter in her life. She’s been a widow for three years but there are changes – one big one that has set in motion a few more. Cara’s niece Linnea is a recent college graduate without a job offer so she jumps at the chance to join her aunt on Isle of Palms for the summer. The two women will find a few surprises on the island but will also learn if they have what it takes to stand up when faced with challenges. I really enjoyed the story of the Rutledge women. Mary Alice Monroe wove into her story the environmental thread of the annual trek of the sea turtles. Each chapter began with facts about the turtles and their plight. With the support of mindful people they’ll continue to do what they do – just like the women in Beach House Reunion. This is book 5 in the series but it can stand alone. The author does a good job of catching up readers who haven’t read the previous books.


About the author:

Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-one novels and three children’s books. She has received numerous awards, including the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, the South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the International Book Award for Green Fiction, the Florida Book Festival Distinguished Author Award, and The SC Academy of Authors inducted Monroe into the Literary Hall of Fame in 2018. Her bestselling novel The Beach House will be a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie set to premiere in April, 2018, starring three-time Golden Globe nominee Andie MacDowell, Minka Kelly, and Chad Michael Murray. Mary Alice is an active conservationist and lives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.


While in Florida last month I passed this sign on my way to the beach each day. It always brought to mind Mary Alice Monroe’s novels.


 

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Best Beach Ever by Wendy Wax

Description:  Forced to rent out or lose their beloved Bella Flora after the loss of their renovation-turned-reality-TV show Do Over, Maddie, Nikki, Avery, Kyra, and Bitsy move into cottages at the Sunshine Hotel and Beach Club believing the worst is over. Only to discover just how uncertain their futures really are.

Maddie struggles with the challenges of dating a rock star whose career has come roaring back to life while Nikki faces the daunting realities of mothering twins at forty-seven. Avery buries herself in a tiny home build in an attempt to dodge commitment issues, and Kyra battles to protect her son from the Hollywood world she once dreamed of joining. And Bitsy is about to find out whether the rewards of seeking revenge will outweigh the risks.

Luckily, when the going gets tough, the ladies of Ten Beach Road know that their friendship–tried and tested–can chase away the darkest clouds and let the sun shine in…  (publisher)

My take:  Best Beach Ever is the 6th book in the Ten Beach Road series. I recommend reading the series in order but you could still enjoy this novel if you haven’t.

When we left the ladies of Ten Beach Road in the last installment they were facing financial ruin, heartbreak, and huge life-changing events. They pick up at that point in Best Beach Ever. At this point in the series none of the women are reluctant to share when they feel someone needs to hear their advice – that’s what good friends do, right? From the beginning they supported each other and worked to achieve their common goals and they continue to do so in this novel. I enjoy how Wendy Wax shows strong women working together and learning to pick themselves up when they stumble. You can accomplish a great deal when you have the support of good friends.

Best Beach Ever was an enjoyable read and left me hoping for more in the series. Not all threads were wrapped up at the end so perhaps there will be another book.


Praise for the novels of Wendy Wax

“If you’re a sucker for plucky women who rise to the occasion, this is for you.”—USA Today

 

“Fans of Jane Green and Mary Alice Monroe will adore Wax’s lively characters, witty dialogue, and heartfelt prose.”—Booklist 

 

“Wax’s Florida titles [the Ten Beach Road novels] are terrific for lovers of women’s fiction and family drama, especially if you enjoy a touch of suspense and romance.”—Library Journal 

 

[Wax] writes with breezy wit and keen insight.”—The Atlanta Journal Constitution


 

The Sugarhouse Blues by Mariah Stewart

Review copy from Gallery Books and NetGalley

THE SUGARHOUSE BLUES

The Hudson Sisters Series, Book 2

by Mariah Stewart

Gallery Books

May 15, 2018

9781501144929 (trade paperback)

$16.00 (trade paperback)

Description:  From New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart comes more “catnip for women’s fiction fans” (Booklist) in the second novel of the Hudson Sisters series.

Allie, Des, and Cara, each having her own reasons for wanting a share of their father’s estate, meet in the grand Victorian home in which he grew up, only to be greeted by another secret he purposely hid from them: his sister Bonnie. The women reluctantly band together to take on Fritz’s challenge, working with a local contractor to begin the renovations financed by an account Fritz had set up for the task. While the restoration appears to go smoothly at first, it soon becomes apparent that the work will be more extensive than originally thought, and Des, elected to handle the money, needs to find ways to stretch out the remaining savings while searching for new sources of funding.

As strangers linked only by their DNA try to become a family, the Hudson sisters also try to come to terms with the father they only thought they knew. In the process, each woman discovers her own capacity for understanding, forgiveness, love, and the true meaning of family. (publisher)

My take:  Mariah Stewart’s second book of the Hudson Sisters series picked up where the first ended. It’s the story of three sisters who share the same father and have been tasked with restoring his family’s historic theater in his Pennsylvania hometown. They will receive their inheritance if they can complete this huge assignment. First they have to find a way to be comfortable working together.

Two of the sisters share the same parents and have grown up with a sibling rivalry that was more on Allie’s part than Des’s. That resentment seems to grow now that they’re living under the same roof and working on this huge project. Can they work past their issues and come to value what they truly have as adults?

I love the progression of this storyline. The pacing seems just right. Des will find out what can happen when she lets go of her insecurities where relationships are concerned. The story of Des and Seth brought a smile to my face. Adding in the dog rescue facet made The Sugarhouse Blues a gem of a novel for me. I recommend picking up the first book, The Last Chance Matinee, to learn how the three sisters meet and then read The Sugarhouse Blues.


About the author:

Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories. A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tends her gardens while she works on her next novel. Visit her website at MariahStewart.com, like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/AuthorMariahStewart, and follow her on Instagram @Mariah_Stewart_Books.


 

The Summer Sail by Wendy Francis

By Wendy Francis

May 1, 2018 * Touchstone * Trade Paperback Original * $16.00 * 978-1- 5011-8891- 6

Review galley from Touchstone and NetGalley

Description:  After not seeing her friends for a year, Abby decides to invite Caroline, Lee, and their families aboard the Bermuda Breeze cruise ship. As the ship pulls away from the pier, everyone is looking forward to a week of lounging by the pool, sipping sunset cocktails, and reminiscing together. But soon enough, they realize their adult problems won’t just disappear at the beach or during cocktail hour.

Hard-working Caroline anticipates several crucial days with her boyfriend, Javier, who she may leave if he doesn’t propose on this trip. Single mom Lee desperately wants to win back the affections of her formerly sweet daughter Lacey, who after her first year in college, has returned home a much more difficult person who is harboring a secret. Abby, the mother hen of the group, will renew her vows with her husband, Sam. But the couple is hiding a major problem from everyone else, including their twin sons, Chris and Ryan.

THE SUMMER SAIL is a vacation they won’t soon forget, but not for the reasons they expect. (publisher)

My take:  In her new novel Wendy Francis tells the story of three “forever friends”. They bonded twenty years earlier when they met in college. Now, as one is set to renew her marriage vows, they are at much different places in life. One is a successful magazine writer, one is a pre-school teacher with a empty nest at home, and one has just been given life-changing news. They’ll find out if they can still share their secrets, disappointments and joy on an eight-day cruise to Bermuda. It’s a tale of friendship, loyalty and life. Told in a breezy, enjoyable style I found it a very fast read that had me reminiscing about my own forever friends. I’d love to cruise to Bermuda with them and was glad to be along for the trip with Abby, Lee and Caroline.


About the author:

Wendy Francis is the author of the novels The Summer Sail, The Summer of Good Intentions, and Three Good Things. A former book editor, she has written for Good Housekeeping, The Washington Post, The Improper Bostonian, and Cognoscenti. She lives outside Boston with her husband and son.

 

Photo credit:  Claudia Starkey


Praise for THE SUMMER SAIL:

“Every reader longs for the kind of female friendships Francis has created in The Summer Sail… Hope and heart fill these fast-turning pages.” —Lynda Cohen Loigman, author of The Two-Family House

 

“What could be more fun than a summer cruise with old friends, along with all their hopes, fears, and extra pounds, not to mention husbands, children, and the one who can’t commit—yet.  A thoroughly entertaining summer read!”

—Shelley Noble, author of The Beach at Painter’s Cove


 

The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews plus US Giveaway

Description:  When ninety-nine-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick summons attorney Brooke Trappnell to her 20,000 acre barrier island home, Brooke is puzzled. Everybody in the South has heard about the eccentric millionaire mistress of Talisa, but Brooke has never actually met her. Josephine’s cryptic note says she wants to discuss an important legal matter, but why enlist Brooke and not the prestigious Atlanta law firm she has used for years? Brooke travels to Shellhaven and meets the cagey Josephine, whose home is a crumbling pink mansion at the edge of the turquoise sea.

Over the course of a few meetings, Josephine spins a tale of old friendships, dark secrets, betrayal, and a long-unsolved murder. She is hiring Brooke for two reasons: first, to protect her island from those who would despoil her land, and second, to help her make amends with the heirs of the women who were her closest friends, the girls of The High Tide Club—so named because of their youthful skinny dipping escapades—Millie, Ruth, and Varina. To fulfill a dying woman’s wishes, Brooke must find Josephine’s friends’ descendants and bringing them together on Talisa for a reunion of women who’ve actually never met. But in doing so, Brooke unleashes the makings of a scandal that could make someone rich beyond their wildest dreams…or cause them to be in the crosshairs of a murderer….

The High Tide Club is Mary Kay Andrews at her Queen of the Beach Reads best: a story shrouded in mystery, Spanish moss, verandah cocktails, 1940s dinner dances, love lost, and possibly…love found. (publisher)

My take: The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews is the story of a group of women who are connected by secrets. When the group widens to include a new generation of women those secrets may be exposed and could have devastating consequences for all – or maybe the truth will set them free. The dual-storyline alternates between events of 1941 and present day. The historical backdrop and social construct of the 1940s give depth to the novel. There’s a big mystery to be solved as well as a few smaller ones. I appreciated the occasional twist in the plot. I also enjoyed the characters – some were quite colorful and made me laugh. All in all, an entertaining read that I can recommend.


Praise for The High Tide Club:

“Andrews creates a story that is at turns suspenseful, sad, and hopeful, with plenty of surprising twists.Her dialogue is natural and funny,and even her minor characters are fully drawn with unique voices…Another satisfying summer read from the queen of the beach.” —Kirkus

“A compelling novel about the people and places that shape a life and the secrets that create ripples for generations. With a unique setting, mysterious flashbacks, romance, and a surprising twist, this book will not disappoint readers looking for a juicy escape.” —Booklist

“Andrews has crafted a smart and wonderful beach read with a lot of rich Southern and historical details.” —RT Book Reviews

“Nothing says the start of summer like a new book from Mary Kay Andrews…An irresistible story of love, friendship, and skinny-dipping.” —PopSugar, Best New Books for Spring

A Southern Living Beach Books recommended read!


About the author:

MARY KAY ANDREWS is The New York Times bestselling author of The Beach House Cookbook, The Weekenders, Beach Town, Save the Date, Ladies’ Night, Christmas Bliss, Spring Fever, Summer Rental, The Fixer Upper, Deep Dish, Blue Christmas, Savannah Breeze, Hissy Fit, Little Bitty Lies, and Savannah Blues. A former journalist for The Atlanta Journal Constitution, she lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Connect with Mary Kay Andrews:

 


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How To Walk Away by Katherine Center

Description:

Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect. (publisher)

My take:  I’ve enjoyed all of Katherine Center’s novels and her newest, How To Walk Away, was no exception. The story is about a young woman dealing with life after a plane crash in which the pilot, her fiancé, walked away without a scratch and she was left unable to walk. It’s about learning to deal with a new normal, learning to look for hope and joy in places you wouldn’t have expected to find them. I loved all of the characters and how Center brought them through their challenges. Recommended to fans of novels about families who aren’t as perfect as they might seem to the rest of the world. I love those novels.


Advance praise for HOW TO WALK AWAY:

“A heartbreak of a novel that celebrates resilience and strength.” —Jill Santopolo, bestselling author of The Light We Lost

If you just read one book this year, read How to Walk Away.” —Nina George, New York Times bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop

“Warm, witty, and wonderfully observed.” —Emily GiffinNew York Times bestselling author of First Comes Love

“Sympathetic and refreshing!” —Elinor Lipman, bestselling author of The Family Man

“I can’t think of a blurb good enough for this novel…poignant, funny, heartbreaking.” —Jenny Lawson, bestselling author of Furiously Happy


Pub. date:  May 15, 2018

Buy links


The Family Gathering by Robyn Carr

Description:

#1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Robyn Carr returns with THE FAMILY GATHERING, the latest installment in her fan-favorite Sullivan’s Crossing series. Carr takes readers back to small-town Colorado to tell the story of Dakota Jones, a perpetual wanderer recently discharged from the Army.

Dakota isn’t the type to stay in one place for long. A lifelong lone wolf, he also doesn’t consider himself much of a family man—especially after growing up with reckless parents who didn’t provide much stability for Dakota and his siblings, all of whom scattered in various directions after leaving home. But after the abrupt end of his Army career, Dakota finds himself drawn to the tranquil mountains of Sullivan’s Crossing, where his brother and sister have both recently settled down. Relocating to this small, neighborly gives Dakota the opportunity to reconnect with his siblings, Cal and Sierra, and establish a closeness they’ve never had before.

As Cal juggles life as a new father and Sierra finds herself caring for an abandoned child, Dakota finds that he has the opportunity to be a part of his siblings’ lives after years of physical and emotional distance—and the more time he spends with them, the more he begins to envy the stability and warmth of their family lives. So when he meets Sidney, a brilliant and beautiful local bartender with past secrets of her own, Dakota finds himself opening up for the first time in years. Has he finally found a woman worth putting down roots for?

A master of storytelling and family sagas, Robyn Carr weaves a moving tale about the power of love, familial bonds, and finding a place — and people — to call home. (publisher)

My take:  The Family Gathering is book three in the Sullivan’s Crossing series. The Jones siblings are all brought together for their sister Sierra’s wedding. They shared an unusual upbringing by free-spirit parents (some would call them hippies) and have all managed to become high-achieving adults but not without their own issues. The primary focus of this novel is Dakota, fresh out of the army and looking for some time to clear his head and decide what he wants to do. Someone who will figure into his plans is Sidney. She’s had her own difficulties and has worked through a lot of them – so she can relate on a few levels with Dakota. I loved seeing how all the siblings from the previous books were doing and how they figured into Dakota’s story. Along with the family dynamics the novel addresses mental illness and how it affects a family. I also liked seeing some minor characters whose story began in the first book and continued through the next two. Robyn Carr’s books have a great sense of community and family and always leave me with a content feeling – and looking forward to the next book. Recommended to fans of the author and contemporary romance with a small town setting.


Praise for Robyn Carr:

“Capturing the best of small-town romance.” — The Washington Post

“Appealing characters and a fresh and heart-tugging twist to a familiar conflict, coupled with what-did-she-just-say? dialogue and a cozy sense of community, all help make this latest installment in the Virgin River series a true romantic getaway.” — USA TODAY

“Robyn Carr delivers yet another fictional win that will speak to the soul of every feminist reader.” — Coastal Living

“Carr sets the bar for contemporary romance.” — Booklist Starred Review

“Carr continues her brilliant community-building as a number of storytelling threads come together in a rich narrative tapestry.” — Kirkus Reviews


 About the author:

Robyn Carr was a young mother of two in the mid- 1970s when she started writing fiction, an Air Force wife, educated as a nurse, whose husband’s frequent assignment changes made it difficult for her to work in her profession. Little did the aspiring novelist know then, as she wrote with babies on her lap, she would become one of the world’s most popular authors of romance and women’s fiction, and 11 of her novels would earn the #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list.

In the years since Robyn’s A Virgin River Christmas scored her first New York Times success in 2008, her novels have spent over 231 weeks on that prestigious list. Her 20-book Virgin River series alone has netted more than 13 million copies.

Over the past 17 years, 41 Robyn Carr titles, with collectively 27 million copies in print, have been translated into 19 languages in 30 countries.

As a sign of the significant contributions Robyn has made to the genre, the Romance Writers of America, the trade association representing 10,200 members who write romance and live in 35 countries, named Robyn as the winner of the 2016 Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award.

Robyn and her now-retired husband enjoy traveling, often taking research trips together. Their children are grown—her son is an Army surgeon; her daughter, a police detective/hostage negotiator. Robyn says that, in addition to reading her novels and making snide remarks about how she’s used family scenarios to her advantage, they have made her a happy grandmother.