OK I've told this story a million times, but I'm going to tell it again. One of my apostles of the Adult Literacy League, Kathy of Bermudaonion, was at a Wendy Wax book signing event for her release Magnolia Wednesdays. When Kathy told Wendy that she was collecting signed books for my ALL silent auction, Wendy actually added to collection by buying a copy of her earlier book, The Accidental Bestseller. She bought a copy of her own book! For ALL! I was so touched, I've been talking about it ever since. So when I was contacted by Joan Schulhafer to read and review Wendy's latest summer hit, there was no question. My general ban on ARCs was lifted for just that moment.
Synopsis: Three women, strangers to each other, have one thing in common. They've all been financially decimated by a Ponzi scheme shyster, and have been left with nothing but a three-way ownership in a ramshackle mansion on the Florida gulf shore beach of Pass-a-Grille.
Bonded by a common goal, the women decide to use a little elbow grease, along with the grumpy (but alas, handsome) contractor to bring Bella Flora back to its previous grandeur. But this isn't a summer of tans and strawberry daiquiris. It's about the most labor intensive work they've ever done, and about digging deep into their own souls to work through all their personal demons. In addition to being broke, the women worry through their family problems, lost loved ones, failed relationships, and secrets they keep from each other. Secrets that threaten to destroy the fellowship and trust they have established.
But in the spirit of their mission, the women hold steadfast to one tradition. At the end of every back-breaking day, they watch the sunset, eat Cheez Doodles, have a drink and praise "one good thing" that happened that day. Never underestimate the power of friendship and a stiff margarita.
My thoughts: There are certain things that a girl must have to complete a successful summer. Sweet corn. Barbecues. Beach time. And books like this. My problem is that I'm not always very tolerant of fluffy beach novels. Too much hokey romance, too much whiny drama. Fortunately, "Ten Beach Road" passed the Sandy test. There was some substance to this one.
We can relate to Ponzi scheme victims, and to people suffering from the economic downturn. The last few years have been brutal and if we haven't personally been affected, then we know someone who has. The circumstances in this story were timely.
I also genuinely LIKED the women in this story. These were competent, successful, modern women who were used to taking control of their lives. They weren't afraid to let a few choice words fly. They all had complicated situations, and knowing all their messes were going to come to a head made me just a little nervous. Their camaraderie was tangible, and I didn't want anything to spoil it! It all made for a very compelling read that I did not want to put it down for long.
I did have to suspend belief to a certain extent, when it seemed like the world's troubles just kept raining down on these women's shoulders. It was just one thing after another, after another, and I wondered if maybe it was a tiny bit overkill. While some of it was predictable, there were a couple of disasters that were not, and I tipped my hat to Wendy for surprising me.
Living in Florida, and having visited Pass-a-Grille (which is right down the road from the historical Don CeSar Resort and St. Pete Beach), I was pleased with the authentic atmosphere that Wendy has created here. These are her childhood stomping grounds, after all, so her familiarity made alot of sense.
So waste no time...summer isn't gone yet. If you are in the mood for a smart but charming beach read, you need to get your hands on this one!
4 out of 5 stars