Spoilers for readers who have not read the Beach House series. You do not want to start with this fifth book since it will spoil events from the prior books.
Wow. This was great. I do wish that Monroe didn't feel the need to always have two female characters to focus on in these books. I was fine with just following along with Cara's story personally. Us shifting back and forth between her and her niece Linnea. Even though I gave this book five stars, I just didn't find myself too engaged with Linnea's romance personally, though I thought it was a nice closing the circle moment for long-time readers. I was just thinking I would love to read a story told from Cara's sister in law's point of view.
It's been three years since Cara Rutledge left Isle of Palms for Tennessee. After the death of her husband Brett, Cara spread her wings to go to someplace that would not have her thinking of him every moment. Now returning home, she has someone new to think about she wants to be around her friends and family. I really can't tell you why Cara returns home, it will end up spoiling things for long-time readers. I can just say though that this was a satisfying conclusion to Cara's story. Cara is a consultant and ends up needing another pair of hands to help her out and thinks of her niece Linnea who is struggling to find a job after graduation.
Monroe once again shows us Cara going through a lot of changes (big and small) at the age of 53 and definitely showing she's older and wiser in this one.
Linnea is dealing with family troubles in this one and is glad to be away from her family home. Her younger brother seems to be going through some things, but her family keeps insisting things are fine.
We revisit other characters like Toy and her family (yes) and we even get characters from her other series (Lowcountry Summer) making appearances so that was pretty cool. We also get to see Heather and how her life has changed in three years since the last book.
The love interest for both women in this one were done very well. I want to applaud Mary Alice Monroe for showing widowhood in a romance novel in a realistic way. For once you didn't have the new love interest acting like a jackass that someone had loved again. And we don't have the heroine acting ashamed of that love. We have Cara still struggling to let go of Brett, but she has someone who is patience and understands what she is going through. And they are not asking her to pretend as if she didn't love someone else or was married before.
The writing was very good and honestly made me want to break open some wine and eat some boiled shrimp. Don't read this book if you are hungry.
The flow was really good in this one from start to finish.
The Isle of Palms is always a great setting. We do have Cara and her family dealing with another Hurricane that threatens everything (why do people live among the beach????) and how they deal with that.
The ending was so good though. The way things ends though you have a feeling this is the last book in the series.
ETA: Just realized this fits St. Andrew's Day! Part of this book takes place in Charleston, South Carolina. Cara and Linnea both go there multiple times in this book.