Friday, July 17, 2015

Nantucket Sisters by Nancy Thayer

When they meet as girls on a beach in Nantucket, Maggie McIntyre and Emily Porter become fast friends—though Emily’s well-heeled mother would prefer that she associate with the upscale daughters of bankers and statesmen rather than the child of a local seamstress. But the two lively, imaginative girls nevertheless spend many golden summers together building castles in the sand, creating magical worlds of their own, and forging grand plans for their future.

Even as Emily falls for Maggie’s brother, Ben, and the young women’s paths diverge, the duo remain close friends. Then the unthinkable happens: Handsome, charismatic, charming, and incredibly sexy Wall Street trader Cameron Chadwick upends both their lives and disrupts their friendship.

Struggling with the tough choices they must make and the secrets they must keep, the two young women discover that the road to love and fulfillment is full of bumps and twists. And while true love may be rare, Maggie and Emily find that friendship is even rarer—and more valuable still.

I picked this book hoping for an enjoyable vacation read, and found myself only partially satisfied. I definitely thought the focus was more on the adult Emily and Maggie and their relationships with the other sex; more glimpses of the girls in childhood (perhaps including when they first met) could have given me a better understanding of the ties that bound them. The men in the book remain very two dimensional, even Ben and Cameron who are so intimately connected with both Maggie and Emily. I found the harping on the economic difference between them off-putting, as was Emily's sudden focus on being young and rich in Manhattan when she went out with Cameron. Ultimately, I was dissatisfied with the way both women hid the truth about their pregnancies from each other and their partners. There were some wonderful descriptive scenes that made Nantucket live for me, but in the end I was just dissatisfied with the quality of the narrative and the actions of the main characters.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A New Hope by Robyn Carr

After losing her child, Ginger Dysart was lost in grief. But since moving to Thunder Point, a small town on the Oregon coast, Ginger is finally moving forward. Her job at the flower shop is peaceful and fulfilling, and she's excited to be assisting with the Lacoumette wedding.

In spite of her lasting heartache, Ginger is swept up in the pleasure of the occasion. But the beauty of the Lacoumette farm and the joy of the gregarious family are ruined by an unfortunate encounter with the bride's brother, Matt. Struggling with painful memories of his own, Matt makes a drunken spectacle of himself when he tries to make a pass at Ginger, forcing her to flee the scene in embarrassment.

But when Matt shows up at the flower shop determined to make amends, what started out as a humiliating first meeting blossoms into something much deeper than either of them expected. Everyone around them worries that Ginger will end up with a broken heart yet again. But if Ginger has the courage to embrace the future, and if Matt can finally learn to let go of the past, there may still be hope for a happy ending.

This latest in the Thunder Point series is a strong addition- much better in my opinion than the one that preceded it. Ginger is a delightful character attempting to rebuild her life after the sudden death of her infant son. Matt starts out as less delightful, working his way through the aftermath of a painful divorce, but eventually deals with his anger to become a more engaging character. This book as a fast and easy read that was primarily focused on the main characters, but gave enough updates on series regulars to make fans happy. I gave it four stars rather than five because at times Ginger seemed a little too good to be true and because Matt's breakthrough to accepting responsibility for his actions seemed a little sudden to be real. Still, these were just quibbles- overall the book serves as a great example of Carr's ability to forge an emotional connection to her readers. I hope her future books in the Thunder Point series are as strong!

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Secrets She Keeps by Deb Caletti

“You don’t grow up on a divorce ranch and not learn to take a vow seriously.”

When Callie McBride finds a woman’s phone number written on a scrap of paper her husband has thrown away, she thinks that her marriage is over. Callie flees to Nevada and her Aunt Nash’s Tamarosa Ranch, where she’s shocked to see that the place of so many happy childhood memories is in disrepair. Worse, Aunt Nash is acting bizarrely—hoarding stacks of old photographs, burying a book in the yard, and railing against Kit Covey, a handsome government park ranger who piques Callie’s interest.

But Aunt Nash may prove to be saner than she seems once Callie pulls back the curtain on Tamarosa’s heyday—the 1940s and ’50s, when high-society and Hollywood women ventured to the ranch for quickie divorces and found a unique sisterhood—and uncovers a secret promise Nash made to her true love. Callie will come to see is that no life is ever ordinary. No story of love is, either.

This novel is an enjoyable, character-driven story about love and marriage and family. I was delighted by the flashbacks to Nash and the Tamarosa Ranch in its heyday as a destination for soon-to-bee divorcees; in fact, I prefered that story to the more modern-day one featuring Callie and Shaye. Nash's history and the stories of the those women at the ranch were compelling and emotionally immediate in a way that Callie's simply wasn't for me. That said, though I found her love for her husband a little incomprehensible, I did think the way the story of how they got to this point unfolded well as Callie became more honest in her reflections on that relationship. The ending was a bit of a surprise for me as I expected a different outcome, but still it felt in keeping with the narrative and the characters. All in all, a great summer read!