May 24, 2013

My Top 10 Beach Reads


Seeing that it's Memorial Day weekend and usually the first true beach weekend of the summer, I was actually thinking of all the best beach reads I've ever read. That led to the following  list of my all time favorite books that are best for reading on a hot day, on the beach, with your butt planted in a beach chair.

1.  Savannah Breeze by Mary Kay Andrews
The Breeze Inn is a place where very classy Southern belle BeBe Loudermilk normally wouldn't be caught dead. But a brief, disastrous relationship with gorgeous "investment counselor" con man Reddy has costs her nearly all her worldly possessions. All that's left is the ramshackle 1950s motel on Tybee Island, "a drinking village with a fishing problem." Moving into the manager's unit, BeBe vows to make magic out of mud, and with the help of the Inn's cantankerous caretaker, Harry, and her junking friend, Weezie, she soon has the motel spiffed up and attracting paying guests. But all it takes is one Reddy sighting in Fort Lauderdale for BeBe to drop everything and haul her hastily assembled posse south to participate in a somewhat outside-the-law sting. With a little luck, BeBe might get her fortune back, Harry (who's looking hunkier every day) might get his boat back, and Reddy might get the prison stripes he so richly deserves.

2. The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe
Caretta Rutledge thought she’d left her Southern roots and troubled family far behind. But an unusual request from her mother coming just as her own life is spinning out of control has Cara heading back to the scenic Lowcountry of her childhood summers. Before long, the rhythms of the island open her heart in wonderful ways as she repairs the family beach house, becomes a bona fide “turtle lady” and renews old acquaintances long thought lost. But it is in reconnecting with her mother that she will learn life’s most precious lessons true love involves sacrifice, family is forever and the mistakes of the past can be forgiven.
3. Swimming Lessons by Mary Alice Monroe
It's been five years since the original turtle lady, old Miss Lovie Rutledge, passed away, but her legacy lives on with some special women, especially Toy and her daughter, young Little Lovie. Toy Sooner kept her graveside vow to her beloved mentor. She left behind an abusive, dysfunctional lifestyle to become a strong single mother and aquarist at the South Carolina Aquarium. But success has taken its toll, leaving Toy fearful of change and risks. Caretta Rutledge, Florence Prescott and Emmaline Baker have all experienced loss. This summer, with each other's friendship and support, they will try to make their dreams a reality. The turtle season begins the day Toy rescues a sick sea turtle on the beach. When Toy brings the loggerhead to the aquarium, she begins a turtle hospital with the help of her boss, Ethan. As the summer progresses and the sea turtles take their measured steps toward healing and freedom Toy, Cara, Flo and Emmi must find their own strength to face their fears and move courageously toward their futures. Mary Alice Monroe delivers another deeply satisfying novel written with an eye to nature and keen insights into the connections between women.

4. Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews
Ellis, Julia, and Dorie are friends since Catholic grade school find themselves in their mid-thirties and at the crossroads of life and love. Ellis, recently fired from a job she gave everything to, is rudderless and now beginning to question the choices she's made over the past decade of her life. Julia, whose caustic wit covers up her wounds—has a man who loves her and is offering her the world, but she can't hide from how deeply insecure she feels about her looks, her brains, her life.  And Dorie has just been shockingly betrayed by the man she loved and trusted the most in the world…though this is just the tip of the iceberg of her problems and secrets. A month in North Carolina's Outer Banks is just what they each of them needs. Ty Bazemore is their landlord, though he's hanging on to the rambling old beach house by a thin thread. After an inauspicious first meeting with Ellis, the two find themselves disturbingly attracted to one another, even as Ty is about to lose everything he's ever cared about. Maryn Shackleford is a stranger, and a woman on the run. Maryn needs just a few things in life: no questions, a good hiding place, and a new identity.  Ellis, Julia, and Dorie can provide what Maryn wants; can they also provide what she needs? Five people who each need a sea change, and one month in a summer rental that might just give it to them. 
5. Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews
Annajane Hudgens truly believes she is over her ex-husband, Mason Bayless.  They’ve been divorced for four years, she’s engaged to a new, terrific guy, and she’s ready to leave the small town where she and Mason had so much history.  She is so over Mason that she has absolutely no problem attending his wedding to the beautiful, intelligent, delightful Celia.  But when fate intervenes and the wedding is called to a halt as the bride is literally walking down the aisle, Annajane begins to realize that maybe she’s been given a second chance.  Maybe everything happens for a reason.  And maybe, just maybe, she wants Mason back.  But there are secrets afoot in this small southern town.  On the peaceful surface of Hideaway Lake, Annajane discovers that the past is never really gone.  Even if there are people determined to keep Annajane from getting what she wants, happiness might be hers for the taking, and the life she once had with Mason in this sleepy lake town might be in her future.

6. Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews
Landing a catch like Talmadge Evans III got Eloise "Weezie" Foley a jewel of a town house in Savannah's historic district. Divorcing Tal got her exiled to the backyard carriage house, where she has launched a spite-fest with Tal's new fiancee, the elegant Caroline DeSantos. An antiques picker, Weezie combs Savannah's steamy back alleys and garage sales for treasures when she's not dealing with her loopy relatives or her hunky ex-boyfriend. But an unauthorized sneak preview at a sale lands Weezie smack in the middle of magnolia-scented murder, mayhem...and more. Dirty deals simmer all around her--just as her relationship with the cutest chef in town heats up and she finds out how delicious love can be the second time around.
7. The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews
After her boss in a high-powered Washington public relations firm is caught in a political scandal, fledgling lobbyist Dempsey Jo Killebrew is left almost broke, unemployed, and homeless. Out of options, she reluctantly accepts her father's offer to help refurbish Birdsong, the old family place he recently inher­ited in Guthrie, Georgia. But, oh, is Dempsey in for a surprise when she arrives in Guthrie. "Bird Droppings" would more aptly describe the moldering Pepto Bismol-pink dump with duct-taped windows and a driveway full of junk. There's also a murderously grumpy old lady, one of Dempsey's distant relations, who has claimed squatter's rights and isn't moving out. Ever. All Dempsey can do is roll up her sleeves and get to work. And before long, what started as a job of necessity somehow becomes a labor of love and, ultimately, a journey that takes her to a place she never expected; back home again.

8. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
Travis Parker has everything a man could want: a good job, loyal friends, even a waterfront home in small-town North Carolina. In full pursuit of the good life — boating, swimming, and regular barbecues with his good-natured buddies — he holds the vague conviction that a serious relationship with a woman would only cramp his style. That is, until Gabby Holland moves in next door. Despite his attempts to be neighborly, the appealing redhead seems to have a chip on her shoulder about him...and the presence of her longtime boyfriend doesn't help. Despite himself, Travis can't stop trying to ingratiate himself with his new neighbor, and his persistent efforts lead them both to the doorstep of a journey that neither could have foreseen. Spanning the eventful years of young love, marriage and family, The Choice ultimately confronts us with the most heartwrenching question of all: how far would you go to keep the hope of love alive?
9. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo. Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family. But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her . . . a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo’s empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards . . . and that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.

10. Little Bitty Lies by Mary Kay Andrews
In a suburban Atlanta neighborhood where divorce is as rampant as kudzu, Mary Bliss McGowan doesn't notice that her own marriage is in trouble until the summer night she finds a note from her husband, telling her he's gone -- and taken the family fortune with him. Stunned and humiliated, a desperate Mary Bliss, left behind with her seventeen-year-old daughter, Erin, and a mountain of debt, decides to salvage what's left of her life by telling one little bitty lie. At first, Mary Bliss simply tells friends and family that Parker is out of town on a consulting job. Then the lies start to snowball, until Parker turns up dead. Or does he? Mary Bliss's formerly staid existence careens into overdrive as she copes with an oversexed teenager, a mother-in-law with Ethel Merman delusions, and the sudden but delicious shock of finding herself pursued by two men: the next-door neighbor who's looking for a suitable second wife, and a dangerously attractive ex-cop who's looking for the truth about Parker McGowan.

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