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text 2018-05-25 12:45
Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach: A Novel - Beatriz Williams

Virginia Fortescue bravely maneuvered her Red Cross ambulance through artillery fire and nighttime rescues during World War I. While transporting patients, Virginia meets British army surgeon, Captain Simon Fitzwilliam. Virginia is enchanted, but hears rumors that he is already married. However, Captain Fitzwilliam is enchanted and promises Virginia a divorce from the wife he was forced to marry for family money. The two are married in secret, but Virginia hears of more devastating rumors about her husband and decided to return to her father's home after the War. Virginia soon gives birth to a wonderful baby daughter, Evelyn and continues to receive letters from Simon who is renovating a family orchard and running a shipping company in Cocoa Beach, Florida. It isn't until a letter arrives that informs Virginia of Simon's death that she travels to Cocoa Beach to take over the business that she discovers the true nature of the lies and deceptions of the Fitzwilliam family. Cocoa Beach proved to be irresistible as soon as I dug in; combining the elements of danger in the prohibition age with romance and a menacing mystery. I have read Beatriz Williams' other books with some of the same characters, including Virginia and was glad to pick up her story again. While I loved The Wicked City and A Certain Age, it is not necessary to read those first. Virginia enters the scene in Cocoa Beach like a fighter; as a woman in 1922 and now a widow, Simon's lawyer figures she will be uninterested in the business that Simon carried out. Virginia makes it known that "...my wishes are your business now..." and I knew that Virginia would be a formidable character. I enjoyed that the writing switched back and forth between Virginia and Simon's time during World War I and 1922 in Cocoa Beach. Through these scenes I was able to know Virginia as a hero and an independent woman, I was also able to form an opinion about Simon. I was amazed at Virginia's fortitude as an ambulance driver and appreciated the compassionate love story despite the many times others attempted to derail it. The mystery is written with many layers and twists, I thought I knew where it was heading, and yet other elements kept getting thrown in for surprise after surprise. I was also pleased to see that the story will most likely continue as there is a cliffhanger at the end. This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

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review 2018-02-04 00:00
The Summer Wives
The Summer Wives - Beatriz Williams Quite possibly the best Beatriz Williams novel yet. I fell in love with all the characters and felt drawn into their lives. I felt their sorrows and celebrated their joys. This one kept me up reading very late, as I could not put this book down. The ending was one of the best.
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review 2018-01-25 17:16
A Certain Age
A Certain Age: A Novel - Beatriz Williams

Theresa Marshall is a woman of a certain age who appears to live a comfortable life in her Fifth Avenue home during the Jazz Age.  However, she is in a loveless marriage with her much older husband and has not gotten over the death of one of her sons during the Great War.  Things change for Theresa when she meets Octavian, a young pilot and hero during the war.  Theresa and Octavian begin a love affair and Octavian becomes intensely involved with Theresa.  When Theresa's brother Jay becomes engaged to a young Sophie Fortesque, he needs a cavalier to deliver the engagement ring according to family tradition.  Theresa offers up Octavian for the job.  Octavian and Sophie meet and they know there is something more there.  When Octavian is asked by Theresa to look into the new money of the Fortesque family, he finds a secret that not even Sophie knows about.  Decisions will be made by Theresa, Octavian, Sophie and Jay that require courage , conviction and love.

Another fabulous look into the lives of those who lived in New York's Jazz Age.  If you have read other Beatriz Williams books, you will reconnect with some characters and haunts around the city.  A Certain Age, however, focuses on the love triangle of Theresa, Octavian and Sophie.  This is not a typical love triangle though, I truly cared about all of these characters and their well being.  There also was no obvious answer to their conundrum, and yet, everyone somehow made the best and most difficult decisions in the end. I felt connected to Theresa and the twists and turns that her life made.  She was one of the products of the age, married young into a loveless marriage, Theresa enjoys her upper class lifestyle, but would happily give it up to be with Octavian.  Octavian is a different product of the age, a war hero who returned to life and felt lost.  Sophie is yet another product of the Jazz age, a young woman who has lived under her father's rules and yearns to be independent and make her own decisions.  These well developed characters combined with the mystery of the Fortesque family created and exciting and intriguing look into the lives of those during New York's Jazz Age.
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review 2018-01-03 00:00
The Wicked City
The Wicked City - Beatriz Williams Another hit by Beatriz Williams. Loved the characters in The Wicked City and could not put this one down.
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review 2018-01-02 21:36
The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams
The Wicked City - Beatriz Williams

In all fairness I should probably start this review with the fact I've never read any of Beatriz Williams' previous books, so I don't have any standing knowledge of her writing or characters. So it actually surprised me when I picked up this book and started enjoying it as a standalone, only to slowly fall further and further out of sorts with what was actually going on. I feel like I should warn any potential readers that although this is technically a standalone first book, there are references to Williams' other books here too. I had a friend who has read more of her works than I have explain them to me, and then everything made more sense after that. So, if you're lost, you might want to do a little digging. Just a PSA.

Now, on to The Wicked City. This is a dual narration book, alternating between the POVs of Ella Hawthorne in 1998 and Gin (Geneva) Kelly in 1924. I have to say, I was a little disappointed that Ella didn't get more of the limelight here. I actually enjoyed her story immensely, and felt like she got cut out more than she should have. Struggling to make her way in a world where she was once so happy, and now all alone, I so felt for her. While Gin's story was wonderful, and intriguing, the focus on her didn't create strong ties between these two women's stories. It felt more like Ella was just a filler story to connect Gin's story to present day events. There's a "ghost story" of sorts that works hard to make this connection, but I'm still not convinced. Add in the fact that the ending is wide open to make way for another book, and there are tons of loose threads floating out there, and you'll see why I was on the fence about that.

I can definitely say that Gin's story is well done though. Down to the vernacular, you can feel the vibe and grit of the 1920's. From speakeasies, to bootleggers, to prohibition era agents, it all draws you in to Gin's day to day life in Manhattan. I loved how easily Williams showed Gin's deep love for this Manhattan, despite its less than desirable aspects, and how realistic her life felt on the page. Despite not always feeling like her story tied into Ella's, I can't say that I didn't enjoy seeing life through Gin's eyes. Her story was wild and unpredictable, much like her character, and I appreciated that. In fact, had this been a story that only focused on her, I probably would have happily rated it much higher. It was the stretches of tying this back to other stories, and to other characters, that kept giving me issues.

Truth be told, I'll probably seek out more of Beatriz Williams' books, if for no other reason than I really enjoyed her writing style. I would also like to fill in some of the questions I have for myself, and give some of her other characters a chance. I still feel like it should be noted somewhere though that this book is a little difficult to read as a newbie to Williams' work. If you're willing to enjoy the story without fully understanding every little reference and nuance, you'll be fine. If you're nitpicky, like I am, you might have an issue. I'd say this is worth a read, as long as you know what you're in for! 1920's Manhattan is a fascinating place to take a literary trip to!

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