The Beach Trees by Karen White – Review

beach treesMurder, missing persons, and intrigue spanning four generations in New Orleans and Biloxi Mississippi. And yet this is not a murder/mystery novel, rather the story of a New Englander, via New York, trying to honor the last wishes of her close friend by delivering her five year old orphaned son to his family in New Orleans. This is more complicated than it sounds. They do not know he exists, having had no contact with his mother since she unexpectedly ran away at the age of 18.

The story jumps back and forth between 1950 and 2010, exploring the disappearance of four women and the sometimes unexpected relationship between them all.

The most well written books seem to paint a picture in my mind, allowing me to envision the story as a movie unfolding as I read. This novel easily accomplishes this. The author clearly illustrated the beauty, lushness, and mystery of New Orleans and Carnival; the peace and serenity of the beaches of the Gulf in Biloxi; and the devastation and stubborn spirit of both the land and the people after hurricane Katrina.

The characters were as well developed as the setting, I quickly came to care about them each. I was hooked from page one and completed the book in less than 48 hours, despite its 403 page length. Although the story did come to the expected resolution, the intrigue of the missing persons kept me guessing until the truth was finally revealed in the last few chapters.

I highly recommend this book, but suggest reading on a weekend or vacation – if you enjoy as much as I did you may miss some sleep. And be sure to have the tissues handy. I grabbed for the first one by page three.

Bound South by Susan Rebecca White – Review

south boundWhat is the definition of a Southern Lady?

The story consists of snippets of time through the decade of 1998 to 2008, as told by Louise – a forty-ish wife and mother living in a wealthy suburb of Atlanta; Caroline – her rebellious teenage daughter; and Missy – the young daughter of her housekeeper.

I have to admit I started and stopped this book several times over a couple weeks, unable to really engage in the story. The first several chapters, although filled with some comical moments, seemed random and disconnected. I am glad I suck it out. About a third the way in I became vested in the characters, curious to see where life took them. And I was a little surprised and pleased in the last few chapters when all the dots where finally connected and revealed nothing was as random at all.

Lots of truths in this story: Nothing in life is random, rather a long chain of purposeful events leading us to our ultimate destination; we are all connected, our actions have a ripple effect, touching others near and far; and almost any situation can be improved with a glass of wine and a good laugh.

Seaside Haven (Book 1 in the Seaside Series) by Sandra W. Burch – Review

seasidehavenI stumbled onto this book on Goodreads, drawn mostly to the title and cover. I’m a sucker for anything in an East Coast resort setting, Atlantic or Gulf coast. I ordered the book from Amazon, and was more than a little surprised when it arrived in the mail. First notes were that it was only 112 pages long, and through a publisher I was not familiar with – Revival Waves of Glory. Hmm. I must admit I began reading with a bit of skepticism – what would this book have to offer?

It was a quick read, completed in just under two hours, and was pleasantly entertaining. I quickly recognized the book as a standard romance novel story, but with a refreshing PG rating. A quick Google search of Revival Waves of Glory showed it to actually be a ministry that also publishes books. Makes sense.

But don’t let that sway you, for or against. This is a cute, entertaining story with main characters that are surprisingly well developed despite the brief length. Other supporting characters are introduced, though not with much detail or backstory. Perhaps they will be featured in additional books in this series?

This book reminded me very much of the novels published in the late 70s, early 80s, as Silhouette Romance novels – the old purple and white books – not the current rendition of Silhouette. The older version stood out in their time from the better known Harlequin Romance series due to their lack of sexual detail – relying instead on the build up – the longing glances, chance touches, deep kisses… leaving what comes next to the imagination.

I enjoyed reading Seaside Haven, getting to know Sierra and Phoenix, and recalling the beautiful Florida sunrises I miss so much as they enjoyed coffee on their private seaside deck each morning.

This book is perfect to drop in the beach bag, a quick bit of entertainment when you have a few minutes to sit by the pool or with your toes in the sand. I look forward to additional books in the Seaside Series.