Tag Archives: Beach reads

Virginia Kantra. Carolina Girl. New York: Berkley Sensation, 2013.

carolinagirlMeg Fletcher is just getting back to the office in Manhattan after spending time with her family in their moment of need. The matriarch of the Fletcher family, Tess, was in a car accident with a drunk driver and the Fletchers rallied together in order to get things done. Meg doesn’t usually take time off from her job. But her mother was in the hospital and family has always been important to the Fletchers. In a Marine household, you learn how to stick together in order to deal with the constant moving. When you’re always the new kids in town, your siblings are your closest friends.

Meg might have enjoyed being with the family on Dare Island, her family’s home for generations, but she is glad to get back to Manhattan, her job, and her long-term boyfriend and roommate Derek. However, the return isn’t anything like Meg expected. Meg is fired on her first day back at her job of twelve years. Derek works for the same company but his job is secure. Convincing herself that it wouldn’t have been professional for Derek to stick up for her, Meg still expects him to come home early that night to comfort her. When Derek comes home even later than usual and starts talking about taking some time apart to think, Meg heads back to Dare Island.

When Meg is picked up by her high-school crush–and brother Matt’s best friend–Sam Grady, she feels familiar stirrings in her heart, but she won’t make that mistake again. They shared one night of passion as teens and then he made sure to avoid her. What a jerk! Yet, she soon finds herself confiding in him. Also, when her mother’s accident threatens to cause them to lose Taylor–the niece that no one knew about until Taylor’s mother died–Sam does everything he can to help. Maybe he isn’t the boy he used to be. But, that doesn’t mean anything can happen between them. Meg still has Derek to think about, and she’s definitely not giving up life in New York for an island she dreamed of escaping all her youth.

Carolina Girl is the second book in the Dare Island series. The first title in the series Carolina Home told the tale of her brother Matt, who stayed home on Dare Island. The third book in the series, Carolina Man, continues on with the siblings, telling the story of Luke, a Marine like their father. In Carolina Girl, we get the story of the family’s only girl, and readers grow ever closer to this North Carolina family and the values they live by.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Dare, Kantra, Virginia, Novels in Series, Romance/Relationship

Kim Wright. The Unexpected Waltz. New York: Gallery Books, 2014.

theunexpectedwaltzKelly Wilder Madison finds that she has walked into Canterbury Ballroom in Charlotte, North Carolina, when she meant to walk into the grocery store next door. At fifty-two, she has recently lost her older husband and has no idea what the next step in her life should be. Kelly never thought of making that next step dancing. But Kelly has never believed in accidents either. So when she is offered a free introductory lesson, she takes it and decides to come back for more.

After spending the past twenty years of her life, “pretending to be a whole lot nicer, stupider, and more conservative than she really is,” Kelly must step out of her comfort zone in order to succeed in an activity that requires her to stand out, take big steps, and risk it all. Soon, Kelly realizes that she enjoys the demands put upon her by dance and is feeling more herself than she has in years. At first, Kelly is reluctant to venture into the group class. When she does, she begins to make friends in this new world, which reminds her that there was more to her life before she settled down and became a homemaker.

On the road to rediscovering life, Kelly bonds with Carolina, a young mother in hospice. Carolina shows Kelly that it is never too late to begin anew. Also, Kelly forms an attachment to her dance instructor, Nik, who she longs to protect like he’s the son she never had. Free-spirited Elyse, who has been Kelly’s best friend since their days of youth, also inspires Kelly to breakout. These connections all help Kelly to regain confidence in herself. She gains the courage to confront the fact that she failed her marriage as much as it failed her. She also develops the strength to face the man who got away. Finally, she learns to embrace the little moments that can lead to life changing experiences.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Mecklenburg, Piedmont, Wright, Kim

Donna Ball. High in Trial. Mountain City, GA: Blue Merle Publishing, 2013.

highintrial Book seven in the Raine Stockton Dog Mysteries opens in 1992 with a car wreck that was never reported, although later one of the drivers, Jeremiah Allen Berman, was arrested for a robbery-turned-murder. This leaves readers wondering what this scene will have to do with present-day events.

Continuing on, we discover that our heroes, Raine and her golden retriever Cisco, are in Pembroke, South Carolina for the opening weekend of AKC competitive agility trials. Raine and Cisco have trained all winter. They are up for their first event and the day is looking promising, especially since Miles, Raine’s boyfriend, has come out to support them. All is well until they reach the hardest part of the course for Cisco, the pause table, where a dog is required to “…come to a screeching halt on the table, stay perfectly still for five seconds, and then take off like lightning again on cue.” Cisco nails it! But, a miscalculation by either him or Raine leaves Raine flat on her back with a nosebleed. Nevertheless, Raine pushes through the rest of the course and the two earn their first blue ribbon of the competition. This victory is soon overshadowed by the discovery that one of the other competitors was brutally murdered in the night. It begins to look like corruption has infiltrated this world of sportsmanship.

Back home in Hansonville, North Carolina, Buck Lawson, Raine’s ex-husband, is acting sheriff since Sheriff Roe Bleckley, Raine’s uncle, has decided to retire after a heart attack. Roe’s mail still continues to be sent to the sheriff’s office and Buck stumbles upon a notification of the release of a felon named Jeremiah Berman. Such notifications are not routine. Buck’s interest is piqued; he soon learns that it was Raine’s father, Judge Stockton, who wanted to keep tabs on when Jermiah Berman was released. In his search to find out why Judge Stockton would have wanted this information, Buck learns that Berman had it out for Stockton and, with the judge’s death, has now turned his rage upon Raine. Reasoning why will lead to the unearthing of secrets that are sure to change Raine’s world forever.

In this seventh book in the series, the chapters alternate between Pembroke and Hansonville; readers will be engaged by both stories and looking forward to the discovery of how the two intertwine.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Ball, Donna, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

R. E. Bradshaw. Out on the Sound. 2nd ed. Oklahoma?: R. E. Bradshaw Books, 2012.

outonthesound“First, there was a touch, not much of a touch, just a simple brush of skin on skin.”

Thirty-seven year old Decky Bradshaw has spent most of her life in Currituck County and has had a pretty great life up to this point.  She has a job doing what she loves, which has paid well enough for her to live very comfortably, and she’s in great health. Except for her brief marriage to the father of her child, Decky’s life has been a smooth ride. This all changes with a single touch on the softball field. In the past, Decky has been a love ‘em-and-leave ‘em kind of gal. Not breaking any hearts, because a Southern lady knows better, but having relationships where both parties know it isn’t going to last long. But Decky knew when someone special came along, she would be ready to hold on tight. She just didn’t expect that someone special to be a woman.

Charlie Warren is the new math teacher in town. After a mutual friend formally introduces the two, Decky and Charlie become practically inseparable. Dating a woman is something completely new to Decky, but she’s sure she can handle it. The question is whether Decky’s mother, Lizzie, and the rest of the town can. And will Decky be able to handle what the bipolar Lizzie and a small Southern town dish out in reaction to Decky coming out? Will Charlie and Decky’s newly found relationship be able to survive the challenges to come?

Out on the Sound was originally published in 2010, without the use of a professional editor. It was the author’s first novel. This second edition is a reissue of the original work with input from an editor. The author made a “conscious effort” not to change the books. It remains a wonderful tale of two women finding each other.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Bradshaw, R. E., Coast, Currituck, Romance/Relationship

Ruth Moose. Doing It at the Dixie Dew. New York: Minotaur Books, 2014.

doing itBeth McKenzie was brought up by her grandmother, Mama Alice, in Littleboro, North Carolina.  Beth went off to college and rarely came back, but when Mama Alice has an accident and requires care, Beth gives up her so-so life up North and comes home.  Once there, Beth feels the tug of memories and traditions, so much so that when Mama Alice dies, Beth decides to remake the family home into a bed-and-breakfast.

Beth has bet all she has–and all she can borrow–on this new venture.  Imagine her horror when a guest dies on opening night.  Miss Lavinia Lovingood was well into her eighties, so Beth believes that her death was natural, if untimely.  But the police chief thinks otherwise–and he’s right.  Suddenly Beth’s new business is in jeopardy even as she and that handsome carpenter Scott Smith put the final touches on the sun-porch-turned-tearoom.

Scott is just one of the characters who readers can hope to see in future novels.  Local pharmacist Malinda Jones, Beth’s housekeeper, Ida Plum, and that antagonist police chief  all look to be characters who could appear in future books.  The fictional setting for the novel, Littleboro, bears a strong resemblance to Pittsboro, North Carolina, the small town that the author calls home.

Ruth Moose is an accomplished poet and short story writer.  This is her first novel.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Moose, Ruth, Mystery, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont

Donna Ball. Double Dog Dare. Mountain City, GA: Blue Merle Publishing, 2013.

In this eighth book in the Raine Stockton Dog Mystery series, Raine and her energetic golden retriever Cisco have left their home in Hansonville, North Carolina.  Raine’s boyfriend Miles and his daughter Melanie have convinced Raine to go on a luxurious vacation to the island of St. Bart’s.  Upon arriving, the group is confronted with the news of a “tragic diving accident” that is being investigated. But, why would they close down such a big area to investigate an accident? Is it just because the accident involved a celebrity or is there more going on? Our heroine may be taking time off from her kennel business but it doesn’t look like she’ll get a break from mysteries that need solving.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Ball, Donna, Novels in Series, Suspense/Thriller

Jessica Beck. Sweet Suspects. United States: Jessica Beck, 2014.

Oh those high school years–our feelings were so strong, and we were so foolish!  Suzanne Hart is not too worried about her upcoming high school reunion.  Since she’s moved back to her hometown of April Springs, she sees many of her former classmates on a regular basis, and it’s old news to them that she’s divorced from her high school boyfriend, Max.  But some of her classmates have embarrassments from high school that are less well known–minor crimes, unwise photo sessions, unfortunate hookups, unrequited loves–mistakes that they hope will stay in the past.

The last thing that any of the revelers at the April Spring High School reunion wants is to be confronted with indiscretions from their teenage years, but Zane Dunbar loves to stir things up.  Zane, a bully in high school, appears to be drinking his way through the reunion, insulting and threatening anyone who crosses his path, including his wife.  When Zane is murdered the next day, there are plenty of suspects–including Suzanne’s good friend, Grace.  To clear Grace’s name, Suzanne drops everything to investigate Dunbar’s death. (She even takes a day off from her donut shop!)

This is the twelfth novel in the Donut Mysteries series. Like the earlier books in the series, it includes recipes for some tasty morning treats

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Beck, Jessica, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Ann B. Ross. Miss Julia’s Marvelous Makeover. New York: Viking, 2014.

makeoverFear not, gentle reader–Miss Julia is not giving up her classic, understated, age-appropriate look.  The subject of the makeover is Trixie, a twenty-something distant relative who has been sent to live with Miss Julia.  Trixie’s “Meemaw” thinks that Miss Julia is rich and uppity, but Meemaw wants the girl off her hands, so she puts Trixie on a bus to Abbotsville. Meemaw hopes that Julia will spruce up Trixie and find her a suitable husband.

Trixie’s visit comes at an inopportune time. Miss Julia and Sam are about to embark on a new adventure as Sam runs for a seat in the state senate.  Just as Sam’s campaign is taking off, he has to have surgery for a cantankerous gallbladder.  Suddenly, Miss Julia has to stand in for Sam at various campaign events.  Public speaking terrifies Julia, but little Lloyd adds moral support by accompanying her and even doing a little speech writing.

At least all is well again with the Pickens family.  Hazel Marie–with help from from James and Granny Wiggins–has her household back in order, with the twins well cared for and Hazel Marie feeling like her old self.  Hazel Marie helps Julia by taking Trixie off her hands.  Under Hazel Marie’s gentle guidance, and in a two-steps-forward, one-step-back process, Trixie begins to groom and dress herself better.  Unfortunately, Trixie attracts the attention of Rodney Pace, a young man on the make–for money.  Pace’s ambitions are focused on setting up a new funeral parlor in town–on land that Julia owns.  Soon Julia needs her full team of family and friends to thwart his plot, and what was to be a quiet summer in Abbotsville gets very hectic even before the Fourth of July fireworks get cold.

This is the fifteen novel in the Miss Julia series.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Henderson, Humor, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Ross, Ann B.

Elizabeth Craig. Quilt Trip. New York: Penguin Group, 2013.

Quilt TripAs usual, Beatrice Coleman has a bad feeling about Meadow Downey’s latest scheme. Meadow has caught wind of the old and rich Muriel Starnes’s get-together to determine an executor for her quilting foundation. The fact that Muriel didn’t invite Meadow to her party is of very little importance to Meadow, who is busy cooking up plans for the foundation. She’s convinced that Muriel should choose the Village Quilters. Beatrice, a recently retired art curator with a keen sense of etiquette, has waning patience for Meadow’s cockamamie ideas. Somehow though, Beatrice finds herself riding shotgun to Meadow, who speeds away from Dappled Hills and up a treacherous mountain in pursuit of quilting glory. Unfortunately for Meadow and Beatrice, the weather is looking awful gloomy…

Even as they approach the mountain-top Victorian “Southern Gothic” mansion, sleet is falling and the sky is gray. Beatrice and Meadow are greeted with a chilly reception, though at the very least sweet Posy Beck and batty Miss Sissy, fellow Village Quilters members, have also crashed the party (at Meadow’s request). Muriel allows the party-crashers to stay, but not without a few subtle jibes at their expense. The atmosphere of party is noticeably lackluster. The house is cold and unwelcoming, and the real guests are gathered in the library in silence. Just as Muriel alludes to another reason for asking her guests here today, separate from the foundation, the power goes out.

Apparently, the build-up of ice on the power lines caused the outage. However, the outage is the least of everyone’s worries: the sleet also severed a large limb from a giant tree, blocking the driveway and Beatrice’s hope of a quick exit. Stranded, without power, a phone line, or even cell phone reception, it looks as if the party is turning into a sleepover. Once the outage has been identified and the hubbub dies down somewhat, Muriel reveals her big secret.

She’s been diagnosed with cancer and has only a few weeks left. She used the foundation as an excuse to gather friends and family to apologize for any past transgressions. Alexandra, her estranged daughter, Holly, a librarian and fellow quilter, Dot, another fellow quilter, and Winnie, her former friend are the formally gathered guests, along with Muriel’s lawyer, Colton. Beatrice and the rest of the Village Quilters soon learn that Muriel’s unkindness has created rifts in almost all of her relationships. Muriel’s company is shocked when she delivers a blanket apology to the entire room. Beatrice observes that Muriel’s apology seems legitimate in its sincerity, yet rehearsed, regrettably. Nobody in the room appears to lap it up with much enthusiasm. Perhaps Muriel has stepped on the toes of her friends and family one too many times. Following the surprise announcement, each guest makes a case for her guild and the foundation, and then Muriel bids them good night.

Muriel’s apology was well-timed, because she doesn’t live to see the next morning. Despite her old age and admission of cancer, Beatrice is sure that foul play is afoot. From the look of Muriel’s body, Beatrice recognizes what she is sure are signs of suffocation. At Meadow’s insistence, she plays detective, questioning each one of the guests. But how just how safe is Beatrice in the role of detective, blatantly trying to sniff out the killer? Just how safe are any of the guests, trapped in an isolated mansion with a killer lurking in plain sight?

Quilt Trip is the third novel in Elizabeth Craig’s A Southern Quilting Mystery series. Craig’s latest novel is slightly different in structure. Quilt Trip is set in a much more condensed time frame of a few days and almost entirely in a single setting, which heightens the urgency and mystery, but the novel has the same charm as Quilt or Innocence and Knot What It Seems thanks to well-crafted, quirky characters. There isn’t considerable development in the slowly unfolding relationship between Beatrice and Wyatt, the amiable Dappled Hills minister, though Craig does include a little bit of interaction between the two. If you’d like to start at the beginning of the series, take a look at past posts here and here.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Craig, Elizabeth Spann, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Jessica Beck. Assault and Batter. United States: Jessica Beck, 2013.

assaultSuzanne Hart didn’t see this one coming. Yes, Suzanne knows that sweet, goofy Emily Hargraves has been dating her ex-husband, Max.  Suzanne even helped the romance along, but Suzanne is unprepared when Emily asks her to be the maid of honor in her wedding–which will take place in just a few days. Suzanne wants to say no, especially after she learns that Max’s best friend, who was the best man at her wedding to Max–and who made a scene at the reception–will be Max’s best man yet again. No, she just can’t do it!  But Emily is so sweet and she assures Suzanne that Max is on board with this too.  Suzanne finally agrees.

This wedding sets Suzanne to brooding. She has been dating Jake longer than Emily and Max have been a couple, yet Jake has not shown any interest in a nuptial event.  If anything, he seems to be pulling away.  Suzanne is not aching for another marriage–in fact she kind of likes living with her mother–but she wants Jake to stay in her life.  She’ll have to have a serious talk with him when he comes back to town for Emily and Max’s wedding.

But suddenly that wedding is in doubt.  Jude Williams, a not terribly nice ex-boyfriend of Emily’s, has been murdered.  Emily met with him the night he was killed, and Max’s best man shows evidence of having been in a fight.  Did someone in the wedding party murder Jude?  Once Suzanne begins to investigate she finds a lot of people with a grudge against Jude–the aunt who raised him, the father of one of his previous girlfriends, a married woman with whom he had an affair, her husband.  With so many suspects, Suzanne turns to her friend Grace and their old friend, George Martin (now the mayor of April Springs) for assistance, and readers follow this threesome as they consider motives, check alibis, and narrow their list of suspects.

This is the eleventh novel in the Donut Shop Mysteries series.  Like the earlier books in the series, it includes tasty recipes for donuts and other breakfast fare.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Beck, Jessica, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places