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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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 Secret To Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey

 

Description:

After finding out her military husband is missing in action, middle sister Sloane’s world crumbles as her worst nightmare comes true. She can barely climb out of bed, much less summon the strength to be the parent her
children deserve.

Her mother, Ansley, provides a much-needed respite as she puts her personal life on hold to help Sloane and her grandchildren wade through their new grief-stricken lives. But between caring for her own aging mother, her daughters, and her grandchildren, Ansley’s private worry is that secrets from her past will come to light.

But when Sloane’s sisters, Caroline and Emerson, remind Sloane that no matter what, she promised her husband she would carry on for their young sons, Sloane finds the support and courage she needs to chase her biggest dreams—and face her deepest fears. Taking a cue from her middle daughter,
Ansley takes her own leap of faith and realizes that, after all this time, she might finally be able to have it all.

Harvey’s signature warmth and wit make this a charming and poignant story of first loves, missed opportunities, and second chances and proves that she is the next “major voice in Southern fiction” (Elin Hilderbrand, New York Times bestselling author).


My take:  I really enjoyed the second installment of Kristy Woodson Harvey’s Peachtree Bluff series. The Secret To Southern Charm is about a family of women (and the men who love them) who are stronger than they think and will learn that family is everything – in good times and bad. They live in a small coastal Georgia town where secrets are hard to keep and people love to talk. Ansley is at a point in life where she’s pulled from all sides – her mother is ill, her adult daughters seem to have cornered the market on personal crises, and her past love has resurfaced. Something’s gotta give! I love Harvey’s easy writing style that makes her characters and plot relatable in a few ways. It all wrapped up in a satisfying way that has me excited for the next book. I know it will be a while but I also know it will be worth the wait.


About the author:

Kristy Woodson Harvey is the bestselling author of Dear Carolina (Berkley/Penguin Random House, 2015), Lies and Other Acts of Love (Berkley/Penguin Random House, 2016) and the Peachtree Bluff Series, beginning with Slightly South of Simple (Gallery/Simon & Schuster, 2017).

Dear Carolina was long-listed for the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, has been optioned for film and has appeared on numerous “ must-read” lists.

Lies and Other Acts of Love was a Romantic Times top pick, a Southern Booksellers Okra Pick and a finalist for the Southern Book Prize.

Slightly South of Simple was a Southern Bestseller, a Barnes & Noble Bestseller, one of PopSugar’s picks for “Ultimate Summer Reading” and one of Glitter Guide’s “Must-Reads for April.”

The Secret to Southern Charm, the second book in the Peachtree Bluff series, releases April 3, 2018.

She blogs with her mom, Beth Woodson, daily on Design Chic, the inaugural member of the Design Blogger Hall of Fame sponsored by Traditional Home and winner of Amara’s Best Luxury Blog, sponsored by Roberto Cavalli, about how creating a beautiful home can be the catalyst for creating a beautiful life and loves connecting with readers at kristywoodsonharvey.com.

Harvey is a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s school of journalism and holds a master’s in English from East Carolina University, with a concentration in multicultural and transnational literature. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications and websites, including Southern Living, Traditional Home, Parade, USA Today, Domino, Our State and O. Henry. She has been seen in Women’s Health, The Washington Post, US News and World Report, The Huffington Post, USA Today’s Happy Every After, Marie Claire’s The Fix, Woman’s World, Readers’ Digest and North Carolina Bookwatch, among others. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and six-year-old son where she is working on her next novel.



The Secret to Southern Charm is available on April 3, 2018 from your local bookstore, Amazon, Barnes & Noble Target, Books-a-Million, Indiebound and wherever books are sold! It is being simultaneously released in paperback, hardback, e-book and audio, so check out your favorite version!


Beach House For Rent by Mary Alice Monroe

  • Title:  Beach House For Rent
  • Series:  Beach House #4
  • Author:  Mary Alice Monroe
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  416
  • Published:  June 2017 – Gallery Books
  • Source:  Publisher; Tandem Literary

Description:  New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe returns to her beloved Isle of Palms to tell the poignant, charming story of two women, one summer, and one very special beach house.

When Cara Rutledge rents out her quaint beach house on Isle of Palms to Heather Fordham for the entire summer, it’s a win-win by any standard: Cara’s generating income necessary to keep husband Brett’s ecotourism boat business afloat, and anxiety-prone Heather, a young artist who’s been given a commission to paint birds on postage stamps, has a quiet space in which to work and tend to her pet canaries uninterrupted.

It isn’t long, however, before both women’s idyllic summers are altered irrevocably: the alluring shorebirds—and the man who rescues them—begin to draw Heather out of the shell she’s cultivated toward a world of adventure, and maybe even love; at the same time, Cara’s life reels with sudden tragedy, and she wishes only to return to the beach house that had once been her port amidst life’s storms. When Heather refuses to budge from her newfound sanctuary, so begins the unlikeliest of rooming situations. While they start out as strangers, as everything around the women falls apart they learn that the only thing they can really rely on is each other.

And, like the migrating shorebirds that come to the island for the summer, these two women of different generations must rediscover their unique strengths so by summer’s end they, too, can take flight in ways they never imagined possible.  (publisher)

My take:  Beach House For Rent is the story of two women who find themselves at an unexpected crossroads in their respective lives. Heather is a gifted artist who also lives with an undercurrent of guilt and anxiety.  Cara has been knocked hard by a loss she didn’t see coming. Her calming, lovely beach cottage will play a part in the future of both women as each figures out a path to take. I love how Mary Alice Monroe weaves an environmental theme through her novels. In this book the shore birds take center stage, as well as the loggerhead turtle. The parallels drawn between the wildlife and the women drew me through the story to the promising conclusion. I’m hoping there will be another book to follow in the Beach House series. Recommended to fans of the author and novels with a gorgeous shore setting with a sweet romance.

Note:  Even though this is the fourth book in the Beach House series it’s the first book I’ve read. No worries – it can stand alone. That said, I’ll be sure to read the previous three books soon because the first book is now being adapted to a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie by the Hallmark Channel, starring three-time Golden Globe nominee Andie MacDowell, who is also an executive producer.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

MARY ALICE MONROE is the award-winning, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty novels (A Lowcountry Wedding, A Lowcountry Christmas, The Summer Girls, The Summer Wind, The Summer’s End, The Beach House, Beach House Memories), and was recently named a 2018 inductee into the South Carolina Academy of Writers Literary Hall of Fame. She is an active conservationist and lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Learn more at maryalicemonroe.com.


Praise for BEACH HOUSE FOR RENT & Mary Alice Monroe 

“Mary Alice Monroe writes gorgeously, with authority and tenderness, about the natural world and its power to inspire, transport, and to heal. Readers will love this story of two unforgettable women—one reeling from an unexpected tragedy, the other drawn into a daring and passionate new love.”
Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author

*
“Readers interested in environmental fiction highlighting endangered birds, turtles, and lands will delight in this latest novel featuring women who need the healing power of nature.” —Library Journal, starred review
*
“Mary Alice Monroe understands that a house is never just a house. As we revisit The Beach House, we  are immersed in the heartbeat and pulse of her South Carolina Lowcountry as never before. Monroe’s singular ability to blend the natural world with the emotional world allows for a gorgeous novel, wondrously bittersweet and life-affirming. No one else tells an insightful and powerful story quite like Mary Alice Monroe—and in BEACH HOUSE FOR RENT, you won’t be able to stop reading—for even that glass of sweet tea.” —New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry
*
“There is no way to describe Monroe’s writing style other than to say it is uniquely wonderful. She has a heart for the lowcountry and the talent to bring it to life.” —Huffington Post
*

“Every book Mary Alice Monroe has written has felt like a homecoming to me.” —New York Times bestselling author Pat Conroy


SUMMER 2017 TOUR DATES:

Thursday, June 15 — Spartanburg, SC
Friday, June 16-18 — Nantucket, MA
Monday, June 19 — Charleston, SC
Tuesday, June 20 — Charleston, SC
Tuesday, June 20 — Kiawah Island, SC
Wednesday, June 21 — St. Simon’s Island, GA
Wednesday, June 21 — Savannah, GA
Thursday, June 22 — Bluffton, SC
Thursday, June 22 — Florence, SC
Friday, June 23 — Pawleys Island, SC
Friday, June 23 — Ocean Isle Beach, NC
Saturday, June 24 — Mt. Pleasant, SC
Saturday, June 24 — Isle of Palms, SC
Sunday, June 25 — Summerville, SC
Tuesday, June 27 — Augusta, GA
Tuesday, June 27 — Decatur, GA
Wednesday, June 28 — Peachtree City, GA
Wednesday, June 28 — Woodstock, GA
Thursday, June 29 — Kingsport, TN
Thursday, June 29 — Knoxville, TN
Friday, June 30 — Chattanooga, TN
Saturday, July 1 — Vero Beach, FL
Sunday, July 2 — Wellington, FL
Tuesday, July 4 — Rehoboth Beach, DE
Wednesday, July 5 — Collegeville, PA
Thursday, July 6 — Brielle, NJ
Saturday, July 8 — Strongsville, OH
Thursday, July 13 — Westerville, OH
Saturday, July 15 — Mt. Pleasant, SC
Thursday, July 27 — Santa Clarita, CA
Friday, July 28 — Signal Hill, CA
Saturday, July 29 — Palos Verde, CA
Tuesday, August 1 — Huntington Beach, CA


Slightly South of Simple by Kristy Woodson Harvey

  • Title:  Slightly South of Simple
  • Series:  Peach Tree Bluff #1
  • Author:  Kristy Woodson Harvey
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  400
  • Pub. Date:  April 25, 2017 – Gallery Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description: From the next “major voice in Southern fiction” (New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand) comes the first in an all-new series chronicling the journeys of three sisters and their mother—and a secret from their past that has the potential to tear them apart and reshape their very definition of what it means to be a family.

Caroline Murphy swore she’d never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff; she was a New York girl born and bred and the worst day of her life was when, in the wake of her father’s death, her mother selfishly forced her to move—during her senior year of high school, no less—back to that hick-infested rat trap where she’d spent her childhood summers. But now that her marriage to a New York high society heir has fallen apart in a very public, very embarrassing fashion, a pregnant Caroline decides to escape the gossipmongers with her nine-year-old daughter and head home to her mother, Ansley.

Ansley has always put her three daughters first, especially when she found out that her late husband, despite what he had always promised, left her with next to nothing. Now the proud owner of a charming waterfront design business and finally standing on her own two feet, Ansley welcomes Caroline and her brood back with open arms. But when her second daughter Sloane, whose military husband is overseas, and youngest daughter and successful actress Emerson join the fray, Ansley begins to feel like the piece of herself she had finally found might be slipping from her grasp. Even more discomfiting, when someone from her past reappears in Ansley’s life, the secret she’s harbored from her daughters their entire lives might finally be forced into the open.

Exploring the powerful bonds between sisters and mothers and daughters, this engaging novel is filled with Southern charm, emotional drama, and plenty of heart.  (publisher)

My take:  Slightly South of Simple is the story of sisters whose lives are a bit messy. They all head home to their mother (Ansley) who is an interior designer in a small coastal town.  Ansley’s life changes overnight as she is put on constant mom, grandma and daughter duty. Yes, her mother comes to stay as well. With that much family closeness you can imagine the possibilities for drama, etc. And there’s a big secret that weighs on Ansley’s mind – and made me raise an eyebrow. There are old boyfriends, a repentant husband, wacky neighbors and a lovely setting that made Slightly South of Simple a perfect beach read. Recommended to fans of Kristy Woodson Harvey and contemporary fiction. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book of the series.


 

The Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart

  • the-last-chance-matineeTitle:  The Last Chance Matinee
  • Series:  The Hudson Sisters #1
  • Author:  Mariah Stewart
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  March 2017 – Gallery Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  When celebrated and respected agent Fritz Hudson passes away, he leaves a trail of Hollywood glory in his wake—and two separate families who never knew the other existed. Allie and Des Hudson are products of Fritz’s first marriage to Honora, a beautiful but troubled starlet whose life ended in a tragic overdose. Meanwhile, Fritz was falling in love on the Delaware Bay with New Age hippie Susa Pratt—they had a daughter together, Cara, and while Fritz loved Susa with everything he had, he never quite managed to tell her or Cara about his West Coast family.

Now Fritz is gone, and the three sisters are brought together under strange circumstances: there’s a large inheritance to be had that could save Allie from her ever-deepening debt following a disastrous divorce, allow Des to open a rescue shelter for abused and wounded animals, and give Cara a fresh start after her husband left her for her best friend—but only if the sisters upend their lives and work together to restore an old, decrepit theater that was Fritz’s obsession growing up in his small hometown in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Guided by Fritz’s closest friend and longtime attorney, Pete Wheeler, the sisters come together—whether they like it or not—to turn their father’s dream into a reality, and might just come away with far more than they bargained for. (publisher)

My take: The Last Chance Matinee is the story of three women who, upon the death of their father, discover sisters they hadn’t known about before his passing. They meet at the reading of his will and are shocked to learn about each other. Des and Allie had the same mother and father. Cara grew up an only child of a free-spirited mother and Fritz who travelled for work much of the time. It all made sense now.

A stipulation of their inheritance is they must bring back to life the theatre in Fritz’s hometown. The small town of Hidden Falls, Pennsylvania, situated in the Poconos, will become the women’s home until the project is completed. That doesn’t seem to bother Des or Cara but Allie has a huge problem since it will mean she has to leave her fourteen year old daughter who lives with her ex-husband part of the time. Allie is angry about many things and deals with her problems by drinking.

Des is a former child star (who never wanted to be in television) who found the quiet life as an adult in Montana and devoting herself to animal rescue. She’s excited about the renovation project and the prospect of starting a rescue in Hidden Falls.

Cara left her New Jersey shore yoga studio (and her former husband who was now engaged to a former friend) in the care of her co-worker. Knowing it’s in good hands she looks forward to being project manager on the theater rehab. She also loves the idea of having sisters, an aunt, and a niece when she thought she had no family at all.

The Last Chance Matinee introduces the characters and the storyline of Mariah Stewart’s new series. There’s a focus on Cara getting a new chance at life and love which I enjoyed. I liked reading about the resurrection of the theatre and all it meant to everyone involved.

Recommended to fans of Mariah Stewart and contemporary fiction. I look forward to reading what happens in the next book!


Praise for The Last Chance Matinee:

“The combination of a quirky small-town setting, a family mystery, a gentle romance, and three estranged sisters is catnip for women’s-fiction fans, and the backdrop of the faded movie palace adds a fascinating element to the story. Stewart’s lively, warmhearted series starter [The Last Chance Matinee] will have readers eagerly awaiting the second installment.”  —Booklist

“A good read, with a nice blend of mystery, family drama, and romance. Readers will look forward to the next installment.”  —Library Journal


About Mariah Stewart:

Mariah Stewart is an award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels as well as several novellas and short stories. She lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors county life and tends her gardens while she works on her next novel. Visit her at mariahstewart.com and follow her on Facebook.com/AuthorMariahStewart and on Instagram @mariah_stewart_books.

Note:

Mariah Stewart’s separate series, the bestselling Chesapeake Diaries, has been a favorite with readers since 2010. The eleventh installment, The Chesapeake Bride, will publish August 29, 2017.


THE LAST CHANCE MATINEE

by Mariah Stewart

  • Publication Date: March 21, 2017
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • $16.00 Trade Paperback Original
  • ISBN: 9781501144905
  • Fiction
  • Book 1 in the Hudson Sisters series

Look for Book 2 in 2018 and Book 3 in 2019!


Blog Tour:

March 21st

USA Today Happy Ever After – Down & Dirty Q&A

Happy Mom Blogger

Up ‘Til Dawn Book Blog

Devilishly Delicious

Collectors of Book Boyfriends

Tome Tender Book Blog

Uniquec’s Book Blog

March 22nd

The Book Nympho

Books and Bindings

Rockin’ and Reviewing

Lovey Dovey Books

Community Bookstop

Bubble Bath Books

Sour Puss Reviews

March 23rd

The Blonde Bookworm

Bookfan

I Wish I Lived in a Library

PNW Bookworm

Mesha’s Corner

The Librarian (Authors on the Air Global Radio Network) – Interview 7:00 pm ET

March 24th

Kritters Ramblings

My Novelesque Life

Reviews by Crystal

Novelgossip

Romance Junkies

March 25th

Abigail Books Addiction

Rainy Day Reviews

Books According to Abby

Once Upon A Page

That Book Lady Blog

March 26th

Dawn’s Reading Nook

March 27th

Suzy Approved Book Reviews

March 28th

The Written Word(s)

March 29th

Hardly A Goddess

March 30th

Lit Living Mom

March 31st

Tiff Scribes

April 1st

Bigreadersite’s Blog

April 3rd

Staircase Wit

Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

April 7th

Svetlana’s Reads and Views

April 10th

Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

April 14th

Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

April 17th

Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

April 21st

Community Bookstop

April 24th

Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

May 25th

First for Women

Review in First for Women magazine’s June 19th print issue, on stands May 25th!

 


Events with Mariah Stewart:

Tuesday, March 21st, 7:00 pm

  • Barnes & Noble
  • Concord Mall
  • 4801 Concord Pike
  • Wilmington, DE 19803

Sunday, March 26th, 4:30 pm

  • “An Afternoon With The Author – Mariah Stewart”
  • Hockessin Bookshelf
    7179 Lancaster Pike
    Hockessin, DE 19707

Wednesday, April 5th, 6:30 pm

  • The Doylestown Bookshop
  • 16 S. Main Street
  • Doylestown, Pa 18901

Tuesday, April 11th, 7:00 pm

  • Towne Book Centre
  • 220 Plaza Drive – Ste B3
  • Collegeville, PA 19426

 

 

 

A Lowcountry Christmas by Mary Alice Monroe

  • a-lowcountry-christmas-tandem-litTitle:  A Lowcountry Christmas
  • Series:  Lowcountry Summer #5
  • Author:  Mary Alice Monroe
  • Genre:  Fiction; Christmas
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  October 2016 – Gallery Books
  • Source:  Publisher; Tandem Literary

Description:  As far as ten-year-old Miller McClellan is concerned, it’s the worst Christmas ever. His father’s shrimp boat is docked, his mother is working two jobs, and with finances strained, Miller is told they can’t afford the dog he desperately wants. “Your brother’s return from war is our family’s gift,” his parents tell him. But when Taylor returns with PTSD, family tensions darken the holidays.

Heartbreak and financial stress threaten to destroy the spirit of the season until the miraculous gift of a service dog leads Taylor, his family, and their community on a healing journey to discover the true meaning of Christmas.  (publisher)

My take:  A Lowcountry Christmas is the first of Mary Alice Monroe’s books I’ve read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone looking for a special Christmas book to read this year. It’s the fifth book in a series but I can say, not having read the previous books, it can stand alone.

The McClellan family has welcomed home their son, a veteran with PTSD, and are all getting used to a new normal. On top of that, finances are strained which adds tension to the relationships between parents and children, spouses, and siblings. I loved how Monroe took her characters through their challenges and brought them to a satisfying result: mainly the true meaning of Christmas and what matters most.

A Lowcountry Christmas is truly lovely and I can see it becoming an annual read for me. I can think of a few people on my gift list who will love it. Highly recommended!


About the author:

Known for her intimate portrayals of women’s lives, Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including The Summer Girls, The Summer Wind, The Summer’s  End, Last Light Over Carolina, Time is a River, Sweetgrass, Skyward, The Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, The Four Seasons, and The Book Club. Her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, and the International Book Award for Green Fiction.

An active conservationist, Monroe draws themes for her novels from nature and the parallels with human nature, thus drawing attention to various endangered species and the human connection to the natural world. Mary Alice is involved with several environmental groups and is on the board of the South Carolina Aquarium, the Leatherback Trust, and Charleston Volunteers for Literacy. She lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit her at MaryAliceMonroe.com and at Facebook.com/MaryAliceMonroe.