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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-06-28 09:06
The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton
The Hideaway - Lauren K. Denton

After her last remaining family member dies, Sara Jenkins goes home to The Hideaway, her grandmother Mags’s ramshackle B&B in Sweet Bay, Alabama. She intends to quickly tie up loose ends then return to her busy life and thriving antique shop in New Orleans. Instead, she learns Mags has willed The Hideaway to her and charged her with renovating it—no small task considering her grandmother’s best friends, a motley crew of senior citizens, still live there. Rather than hurrying back to New Orleans, Sara stays in Sweet Bay and begins the biggest house-rehabbing project of her career. Amid drywall dust, old memories, and a charming contractor, she discovers that slipping back into life at The Hideaway is easier than she expected. Then she discovers a box Mags left in the attic with clues to a life Sara never imagined for her grandmother. With help from Mags’s friends, Sara begins to piece together the mysterious life of bravery, passion, and choices that changed her grandmother’s destiny in both marvelous and devastating ways. When an opportunistic land developer threatens to seize The Hideaway, Sara is forced to make a choice—stay in Sweet Bay and fight for the house and the people she’s grown to love or leave again and return to her successful but solitary life in New Orleans.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

Sara Jenkins is an antiques dealer living in New Orleans, Louisiana when she gets word that her 72 year old grandmother, "Mags", (the last of Sara's immediate family, after being orphaned at the age of twelve) in Sweet Bay, Alabama has passed away. In addition to this news, Sara is told that she has been left her grandmother's home / business of sorts, The Hideaway Bed & Breakfast. Sara visits the property with the idea to immediately get the house listed so she can make a quick sale and truck it back to New Orleans to carry on with her life. Once on site however, Sara sees that what was affectionately being referred to as a bed & breakfast is actually more of a seniors' community made up of Mags' friends taking up residence in all the rooms. Quickly falling under the charms of these senior citizens, Sara decides to take on all the intensive, desperately needed renovations.

 

Whether she'll sell or stay, she's struggling to decide.... the choice becoming even more complicated once she meets the attractive contractor hired onto the job. While elbows deep in the work, Sara comes upon a box of letters & mementos belonging to Mags, items that tell of an entirely different woman than the one Sara thought she knew. The Mags in the letters is bold and wildly in love, far from the sweet, subdued nature of Sara's grandmother. As Sara tries to make sense of all this, she is simultaneously forced to fend of a greedy land developer interested in snatching up the property for a shopping area / apartment plan in the works. 

 

Told in alternating POVs -- between the story of Mags and that of her granddaughter, Sara -- this novel opens in modern times and spans back to the 1960s, when Mags' letters introduce the reader to her 22 year old newlywed self (albeit then known as Margaret Van Buren), already in a struggling marriage to a wealthy, respected, but emotionally neglectful (not to mention philandering!) man. It's largely through the letters that the reader is given insights into how the woman of status, "Margaret", became the artsy, go-with-the-flow, B & B owning- gypsy soul known as "Mags".

 

 

 

Well, I'll start off by saying that this is absolutely the perfect, easy-breezy, poolside kind of read. Perfect for fans of The Notebook! Not saying the plot is necessarily super-similar, just that the tone / feel one gets from this is similar to that Sparks novel. The Hideaway definitely has Hallmark summertime movie (adaptation, that is) all over it. While the plot itself is not terribly original --- person inheriting property, deciding what to do with it, going on a literal / emotional journey that leads to revelatory information about benefactor being brought to light in the process -- the characters themselves are what make this particular novel a solid good time. Each resident at The Hideaway is endearingly unique and heartwarming in character. 

 

That being said, there were just a few things that bothered me leading me to knock my rating down a bit:

 

*

Mags basically vilifies her philandering husband but kinda walks into a kettle-pot situation when she SO easily takes up with William. 

(spoiler show)

 

* And also this quote by Mags: "At 33, I'm long past the age of letting myself get swept up by a man, no matter how charming or handsome he may be." I just found that line depressing. One needs a lovely moment of getting "swept up" from time to time, regardless of age! 

 

* Sara's assistant in New Orleans, Allyn: I knew going in that this book was published through a Christian publishing house, so I don't know if that plays a role in this, but it bugged me that author Lauren Denton hinted at Allyn being gay in such a heavy-handed way but never actually uses the word. In an age where LGBTQ+ representation in fiction is so strongly requested and sought out, I thought Denton dropped the ball in this respect. 

 

Near the end of this novel, some of the "reveal" bits of the story, where issues are magically explained into sense, reminded me somewhat of some of the big plot reveals used in Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres. Personally, I wasn't entirely happy with the fate Denton wrote for The Hideaway property, as far as the specifics of how things were resolved. Still, I quite enjoyed the underlying inspiring theme of people finding a true sense of family and community with people who accept them just as they are... oh my, went a bit Bridget Jones' Diary there for a moment! 

 

Also, bonus points for throwing my own town into the mix of places used in this book! 

 

For those who might want to use this for a possible book group selection, a discussion questions guide is included in the back of the paperback edition. 

 

FTC Disclaimer: BookLookBloggers.com and Thomas Nelson Publishers kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book & requested that I check it out and share my thoughts. The opinions above are entirely my own.

 

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review 2017-04-08 21:53
The Hideaway
The Hideaway - Lauren K. Denton

By: Lauren K. Denton 

ISBN: 9780718084226

Publisher: Thomas Nelson--FICTION

Publication Date: 4/11/2017 

Format: Paperback 

My Rating:  5 Stars 

 

Top Southern Debut 2017! 

 

“A story both powerful and enchanting: a don’t-miss novel in the greatest southern traditions of storytelling.” —Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author

 

 

Storyteller Lauren K. Denton, a new voice in Southern fiction delivers a smashing debut, THE HIDEAWAY. Making me want to return to my southern front porch and curl up for a long leisurely nostalgic afternoon while being transported with this beautiful love story.

My vote for Southern Debut of 2017!

Set in Sweet Bay, Alabama in the Deep South, we meet Dot, a friend of Mags (Mrs. Margaret Van Buren), a tenant of The Hideaway. The Hideaway was once a booming Bed and Breakfast; however, over the years it has turned into a home for eccentric seniors (bohemian) style, artists, and the free-spirted looking for an escape; you came and never left.

As the book opens, Dot (husband, Bert) are seniors living at the house. She is admiring the latest Southern Living article featuring Maggie (Mag)’s granddaughter, Sara who owns a highly successful interior design shop in New Orleans.

People tend to arrive at this charming inn and they fall in love and decide to never leave.

Mag’s daughter, Jenny is deceased and she helped raise her granddaughter Sara. Mags was very unconventional and some called eccentric. Sara was embarrassed by her lifestyle growing up. Mags has never told her own story to Sara. By the time she had moved in with her at age twelve, Sara was at that critical age where there were peer pressure and friends’ opinions.

Sara turned out to be a stronger woman because of who Mags turned out to be. If Mags had remained under her parents’ thumb, worrying about how other perceived her, she would have been a wispy shadow of a real woman.

Sara loved the French Quarter in the Big Easy. She was proud of her shop, Bits and Pieces. She has no time for a man, relationship, or anything other than her shop. She has restored an old shotgun house and filled it with restored furniture, and antiques. A bit of everything. Her assistant manager, Allyn was always there to help out (loved him).

Her mind always went back to Sweet Bay to see Mags, her grandmother. However, she was too busy with the shop to visit more often.

However, when Sara receives the news from Mag’s attorney, she knows it is too late to spend time with her eccentric little grandmother. She had left her for greener pastures in New Orleans, but Mags was her only family. Her grandmother has passed always. Now she has regrets for not making the time.

What would happen to the house now that Mags was gone?

"The Hideaway was always full of friends and lovers, mothers and daughters, secret keepers, and secret-spillers, straight talkers and soft shoulders. We had hurt and we had joy, but I wouldn't have it any other way."


It had not been a proper bed-and-breakfast since she was a kid. As she got older, she became more aware of the unusual living arrangements. It might have been a legitimate B&B at one time, but over the years it had become a senior citizen commune with a revolving door. A long layover for people on their way to Florida retirement glory.

The old Victorian which was once a beauty, now in a poor condition. It was formerly in all the travel guides as the Southern Sight to See. They would all be shocked to see it now.

Sara soon learns she has inherited the inn and the resident seniors. She is to bring the inn back to its glory days. However, in the process, Sara soon learns there was much more to her grandmother than she ever knew.

The author takes us back to 1960's to learn about Margaret's parents, family and how she met her husband to be. The man she married. A man her family wanted her to marry. A banker. After he began cheating, over and over, she escapes to The Hideaway. A solace for many.

After meeting the original owner, whose husband died, the inn was not the prestigious Gatsby house it was previously in its hay day. Margaret comes under a false name and soon gives up the rich life, pearls and pillbox hats, for a simpler life. One she adored.

Mags meets William, a man who changes her life. A wood maker, who teaches her the important things in life. The man who held the key to her heart. However, her old life comes back to complicate things. She chooses the bohemian life, so different that the one she had previously. Mag’s past changed her from quiet to bold. Weak to strong.

Sara soon discovers more and more about her grandmother and the mysterious man in her life from the past. However, she may be more like her grandmother than she knows. She decides to remodel The Hideaway per her grandmother’s wishes.

In the process, she meets the handsome contractor which slowly changes her perspective. In addition, she encounters challenges with the residing seniors, now part of the family, and a developer who wants the land, after all the work. Plus she has her life and shop in New Orleans. She never wanted to return to Alabama. Much less run an inn.

However, just when she is about to wrap up the renovation and make plans to return to New Orleans, the old nasty developer is threatening to take away the historic dream, for a condo new project development, until someone intercepts, which changes more than one life. Sweet surprises for many.

Compelling and Inspiring! Rich in history, character, and lots of heart, Denton bridges the gap from past to present with a heartwarming and charming southern tale of family and friendship. The important things in life. A thought-provoking takeaway on a journey to self-discovery.

Do we really know our parents and grandparents? We all need to slow down, listen, and hear the intriguing stories from past generations which will enrich our lives while helping us to understand their struggles and sacrifices. After all, they helped mold us to become the person we are today. I loved Mags!!

For fans of southern, historic, Christian, women’s and contemporary fiction.

Those who enjoy authors: Viola Shipman, Nicholas Sparks, Beth Hoffman, Patti Callahan Henry, Susan Rebecca White, Mary Ellen Taylor, Lisa Wingate, Kristy Woodson Harvey, Mary Kay Andrews, Joanne DeMaio, Donna Ball, Debbie Macomber, Sherryl Woods, Laura Lane McNeal, Camille de Maio, Wendy Wax and Karen White, will enjoy this newfound author.

Well-written, a must read. Cannot wait to see what’s next from this exciting new talented author!

A special thank you to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for an early reading copy.

JDCMustReadBooks

 



Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/01/01/The-Hideaway
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review 2017-03-03 07:54
The Hideaway - Lauren K. Denton

I just loved this story. Sara's grandmother, Mags, dies and Sara must leave New Orleans and go back to Sweet Bay, Alabama to the home where she grew up. This isn't just any home. It's an old B&B where Mags has let all her friends come and live with her. It's filled with people Sara has known most of her life.

Sara finds out that it is her grandmother's last wish that she renovate the old house and either make it a new B&B and live there or sell it. Sara is determined to sell. Her life is in New Orleans where she has a boutique business, friends and Mitch.

However, while renovating Sara finds an old box and secrets about her grandmother she did not know. There is the matter of a land developer trying to buy her grandmother's property and trying to turn it into condos and a tourist trap. And then, there is also the matter of the construction supervisor who has been in charge of the renovation who has been spending a lot of time at her place. Is there something there? Surely, she can trust her helper to run the store in New Orleans, can't she?

This story was so rich in southern history and family folklore. I just loved the character Mags. I wanted her to be my grandmother. And her one big secret - it's sad it had to be such a secret for so long. This was such a feel good story. I just loved it.

Huge thanks to Thomas Nelson for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.

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