My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Maddie, Avery, Nikki, and Kyra are all reeling from various events in their lives and have returned to their home, Bella Flora, a restored 1920s mansion in Florida, to lick their wounds. Their famous TV show, Do Over is in disarray, embroiled in legal battles with the network, who wants to take away the show and all the hard work they've put into it. They are busy trying to promote the Sunshine Hotel and Beach Club, which they'd renovated in hopes of starting a similar Do Over show or documentary, but the network is saying no. The group hopes that the Beach Club memberships and cottages they are selling will help restore their plummeting finances, but, at the moment, it's not looking good.
In fact, the only cottage sold has been to Joe, Nikki's boyfriend, with the plan that they will move in after the birth of their twins. But Nikki is terrified to plan that far ahead, fearing it will jinx the health of her babies. Meanwhile, Maddie has returned to Bella Flora after a romantic relationship with Will Hightower, a famous musician and rock star. Will wants Maddie to go on tour with him, but Maddie's still trying to find her own self after her divorce from Kyra's father. As for Kyra, she has a secret about Bella Flora she hasn't told any of the women: one that could destroy the last few bits of financial security the group feels. She's also dealing with her feelings toward her young son's (married) father, a famous actor. And finally, Avery feels like her relationship with her boyfriend Chase is crumbling, due to their inability to agree on how to raise his teenage sons. When a former financial backer of the gang, Bitsy, shows up and demands a cottage in return for her financial investment, the women are at a loss: scrambling to find a place for Bitsy and wondering what happened to her wealth. It seems like everyone in the group has something to hide or fear; will their secrets bring them together or tear them apart?
So, full disclosure on this one: most--though not all--of my issues with this novel tend to revolve around the fact that this is apparently the fifth novel in a series for Wax entitled "Ten Beach Road." I had no idea when I requested the book and while I usually prefer to read series in order, it's certainly not an ironclad rule, as most seem to stand on their own. I think I would have definitely enjoyed this book a lot more, however, if I had read some of the previous books, as I found myself somewhat lost for almost the first half of the book. So much that I almost gave up and moved on, because I was just so frustrated. There is a a lot of backstory involved with these women, and while the author attempts to explain a little of it, much of it is simply alluded to, and it gets confusing quickly. There are a lot of people and details to keep track of and truly, by the end of the novel, there were still some ancillary characters that I still had not figured out exactly how/where they factored in. It also didn't help that, and perhaps this was just my ARC copy, the paragraphs would just abruptly switch over to varying points of view, causing you to have to double back and figure out who was now telling the story.
Perhaps because I hadn't read some of the earlier novels, it was harder to get into the characters and really identify with them; seriously, for the first half of the book, I was just trying to figure out who the heck they were and how they were all related/intertwined with each other. I probably related the most with Nikki--being a mother of twins myself--but seriously, her whining could definitely get on your nerves, even if you could identify with some of her fears. Other issues included the fact that the women simply wouldn't Google why Bitsy showed up at their doorstep (seems a bit of a stretch) and a few other places where a simple conversation could have easily resolved what then became a major plot issue. The whole "oh let's just not talk" issue in books is a big pet peeve of mine.
So, for a while, I was pretty frustrated. I had no clue who these people were, nor did I really care. The book was confusing, and the whole money aspect of the plot was stressful (I don't know what it is about my personality, but I get stressed when people stand to lose it all in books, especially when they just don't think clearly about the situation!). Still, I won't lie, as the book wore on and I figured out the basics about the relationships, the characters and the plot grew on me a bit. It helped that there was a Kinsey Millhone reference (main character in Sue Grafton's amazing series). It was sort of like a soap opera; you know it's all really fantastical, yet you can't help but watch. You need to be prepared for famous actors and musicians, allusions to some pretty crazy things that happened in previous novels, and some silly decision-making. But, I couldn't help but keep reading by the time I was about 3/4 through, and I even found myself smiling a bit (shhh, don't tell). I might even consider picking up the next book at some point to find out what happens to some of these characters, because it definitely didn't tie up all the loose ends.
Overall, if you like tidy plots that make sense, or if it bothers you coming into a series midway, this one isn't for you. But if you're looking for a fun, beachy read that can get your mind off things, and you've either read the earlier books in the series, or you can adjust to being confused for a bit, you might enjoy this silly, soapy tale.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley (thank you!); it is available everywhere as of 04/25/2017.
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