REVIEW: ON OCEAN BOULEVARD, BY MARY ALICE MONROE

 

It’s been sixteen years since Caretta “Cara” Rutledge has returned home to the beautiful shores of Charleston, South Carolina. Over those years, she has weathered the tides of deaths and births, struggles and joys. And now, as Cara prepares for her second wedding, her life is about to change yet again.

Meanwhile, the rest of the storied Rutledge family is also in flux. Cara’s niece Linnea returns to Sullivan’s Island to begin a new career and an unexpected relationship. Linnea’s parents, having survived bankruptcy, pin their hopes and futures on the construction of a new home on Ocean Boulevard. But as excitement over the house and wedding builds, a devastating illness strikes the family and brings plans to a screeching halt. It is under these trying circumstances that the Rutledge family must come together yet again to discover the enduring strength in love, tradition, and legacy from mother to daughter to granddaughter.

When Linnea Rutledge returns to the island in On Ocean Boulevard, she has much to work through. Will she restore her faith in herself after a failed relationship and job in California? Will reuniting with her family be a burden or a gift?

Having enjoyed other beach books in this series, I was glad to rejoin Cara Rutledge, Linnea’s aunt, as she planned for a big change in her life, too. A new man, an adorable little daughter, and the joy of watching her niece find her niche as she immerses herself in environmental issues.

The beach houses were lovely to visualize, as the descriptive prose invited the reader in and gave an opportunity to learn some of the history of the family and the Charleston area as the story unfolded.

The narrative skipped around quite a bit, but I did enjoy the journey. I would have liked a more in-depth peek into their lives, but I did enjoy how dedicated they all were to the environment. Each chapter began with snippets about the sea turtles that are a recurring theme. 4 stars.

***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley

REVIEW: INVISIBLE, BY CARLA BUCKLEY

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While Dana Carlson finished setting up the building for its implosion, her mind was focused totally on the job. She felt that surge of control…something she needs in her life. In the demolition business, one must be in control.

So when the calls start coming from “private caller,” she ignores them. Until finally, when the job is done, she picks up. And the voice of her teenage niece Peyton sweeps her back in time, sixteen years before, to a time and place she escaped. Running from her past and her secrets.

But Peyton is telling Dana that her sister Julie is very sick and needs a kidney transplant. So, almost on auto pilot, Dana agrees to go back to Black Bear, Minnesota. But will she be able to face what is there?

Back in Black Bear, she is stunned by what she finds. She is too late, and Julie is dead. And what Dana soon discovers is that many people in Black Bear are suddenly dying of kidney disease, in numbers too large to be random. What is happening?

As she begins to investigate, she is confronted by the rage of the community. By those who see her as an intruder…a threat to their livelihood. Is the large plant in town causing the problems?

What will Dana uncover, and who will be on her side? Will anyone help her or will everyone stand in her way? And which of Dana’s secrets will come to light?

Narrated alternately by Dana and Peyton, we come to see beneath their surfaces as the story unfolds, and I came to care deeply for each of them.

Another unputdownable book from Carla Buckley, Invisible: A Novel (Random House Reader’s Circle) is a reminder of what is hidden beneath the surface: from nano particles to deeply held secrets. And how many will fight desperately to keep things hidden. Five stars.