This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Harlequin MIRA
Released on 4/6/21
A summer at the beach, brings more heartbreak and healing than can be imagined for a woman and her family. Heartfelt, family-focused, and another chance at love fill this latest of the author’s books and challenge the reader to feel so much.
The standalone The Bookstore on the Beach begins when Autumn Divac reaches a decision. Her husband left on a business trip and disappeared more than eighteen months before and this has been her primary focus at the expense of her two teenage children and herself. They will leave Tampa and go north to the beach and bookstore where she grew up and spend the summer with her mother Mary after all these years of her mother wanting her back for a visit.
But, if Autumn thought she’d find some peace and enjoyment, her daughter has a huge secret and her mother has an equally big one, but then there is her own complicated situation when her old high school crush returns to town after his own troubled past to be his parents and help out since his mom is dying. The journey of life isn’t easy for any of the women in Autumn’s family, but their summer on the beach pulls them together and they learn to face the difficulties and find their way through.
The Bookstore on the Beach caught my eye for the cover and title. Brenda Novak was an author I had read twice before and was happy to pick up another of her books. I read the blurb and thought, oh good, there will be a suspense element, some women’s fiction, and a lovely second chance romance against a fun summer backdrop.
Mmhmm… about that. I got something of a surprise once I started reading. That old aphorism, ‘if it weren’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all’ kept running through my mind. Every single member of that family and Quinn the love interest have some serious hardships and that does not even count having Nick Divac missing and presumed dead. This was no frolicking light summer read. I had to adjust, and, I had to go with what I thought was way more drama than any one book should hold. Right down to the end, the hits just kept coming. I’m still reeling.
After I got on track with the book and not my preconceptions, I discovered that I loved the little town, the family and friends around them, and I most definitely engaged with the characters. Autumn was the principal character, but her mom, Mary, her daughter, Taylor, and Quinn got plenty of narration time and had their own strong plot threads as well. The multiple generations of women facing their trials and relying on each other was probably my favorite part though, yes, I did love the romance of Autumn and Quinn.
There was much to break my heart or leave me unsure how I felt about it, but there were also joyful and beautiful moments, too. I am choosing not to get specific about these women’s secrets, but Mary’s lead towards the horrific and tragic while Taylor’s are complex between big troubles and confusion that many teens face and try to hide.
The book is full and longer because of multiple storylines, but I never felt it drag though I did once in a while wish that there was less going on in their lives because so much trauma felt unreal after a bit. The teenage issues particularly with the brother and his best friend was probably least appealing. I was vested though and had to know what happened once everything was introduced. I had my suspicions about one last late curveball and I really hoped I was wrong after everything else that had already happened and was happening, but there it was- my least favorite romance trope showed up and I was too invested in the story so had to weather that one through and hope for the outcome I wanted even though either way there would be deep sacrifice. But, I think what actually dissatisfied me was the end. Yes, the main threads were tied up and I had a general idea what was going to happen, but I had the feeling the story simply stopped. I felt it needed more- an epilogue to balance the events preceding.
All in all, The Bookstore on the Beach took me on an emotional trip of the heart through the lives of a strong family of women. I was glad to get the story and fell in love with the characters and wanted them to find their way to happy. Those who enjoy Contemporary Romance crossed with Women’s Fiction and want a book with all the feels should definitely give this one a go.
My thanks to Harlequin MIRA for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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