Whisper Beach - Shelley Noble
Please note that I gave this book no stars. I had to round up on Goodreads since it doesn't allow you to not star a book.
This is a straight up terrible book showing that no matter what a man does, it's the woman's fault for not being understanding. Oh and there's a lesson in there somewhere that even if you are smart and successful, you need to give up what makes you happy in order to make a guy you haven't seen in 12 years happy because apparently men never relocate for women, ever. It's a freaking law in romance novel land and I am tired of it.
"Whisper Beach" revolves around several characters, but for most of the book we get differing third person points of view from Vanessa Moran (Van) and Joe, Van's old boyfriend.
Van returns to Whisper Beach to attend her cousin Gig's husband's funeral. Van has not been home for 12 years, after breaking up with Joe, falling pregnant, and then being thrown out by her father. Borrowing money from her cousin Gigi, Van goes to Manhattan and after suffering a miscarriage that leaves her unable to have any more children (because of course she did, she's terrible for having pre-marital sex so therefore she can no longer have kids) she stays away from Whisper Beach.
I at times felt sorry for and than just sick of Van. I went a good 50 percent of the book loathing her character after we get to read her thoughts concerning one of her former friend's named Dana who she thought was partly responsible for getting abused by her boyfriend. Reasons why were because she would never put up with that, and Dana could just leave.
I don't know what Ms. Noble was thinking, but to have a plot point dealing with domestic violence and having characters in the book acting and saying that it is the abused woman's fault several times left a bad taste in my mouth. Let's not forget that the same character still wasn't charged for abusing Dana, getting into fights with other people, and straight up stalking and harassment. And the other townspeople knew about it and still kept talking to this piece of crap. There could and should have been some commentary about the fact the guy was a police officer and the fact that the town and police force should be held accountable for even letting the guy sashay around with him having access to firearms.
Van was bullied by her long-term friends Suze and Dorie into staying though she didn't want to and was constantly told by them and other people, Joe and her uncle Nate how to feel about things that she experienced because of her alcoholic father. I really wanted her to just peace the hell out of the town at the end of the book and be done with everyone.
I couldn't stand the character of Joe. Sitting around pining after Van for 12 years though it is pointed out by him and everyone he knew where she was because you know the internet. Van at this point is a successful businesswoman so if he really did want to clear things up with her and to check on her he could have. I hate storylines that do this mess where the male heroine is just some passive guy until the heroine shows back up and then she must change her life up and down because he decides that she needs to give them a chance.
I hate, hate, hate romance books that keep doing this. Fine if you want to center a romance novel around a heroine returning back to her hometown (I have read enough of them) quit making them seen as standoffish and wrong for daring to accomplish their dreams and be successful. And you know what else would be great, quit making them sterile because of things they did in their youth. It's a fucking insult. What really peeved me about this whole thing was that Van even mentions not being that too into kids anyway, but this is glossed over because Joe has always wanted a huge family, his family after she sees them starts talking about grandkids (super subtle) and then his mother discusses adoption with Joe because Van can't have kids. I mean...my God, I hate reading about other people discussing another character's womb. Just knock it off.
So I hated every character in this book except for Dana. The character of Dana seemed to be the only character that saw people and circumstances clearly. I felt for her, since she feels like she has no other options besides staying with her abusive boyfriend. Since the whole town talks shit about her behind her back and in front of her face I can see why she would feel that way.
The character of Dorie irked the living life out of me. She is older than the other characters by at least 30 years and is seen as a surrogate mom by Van and her friends. Dorie feels the need to meddle and tell Van how lacking her life is all of the time. This is after we realize that Dorie's husband is a philanderer and also sexually harassed the waitresses at the restaurant they run. And Dorie goes to say her husband is still better than other husbands. And she knows about his wandering eye, but hey, he always comes back to her, so winning? All Dorie does is act like she knows best and tells Van needs to just be with Joe, because you know when one is 17 years old you should totally settle down with a guy who you broke up with after he was flirting with a friend and then you totally saw him having sex with someone in his truck.
Oh did I forget to mention that? There's another side plot about who Joe was with and how that caused Van to just run off and have sex with someone and how she was a whore just like her mother. God. I just can't. I am going to need to stop soon. I just feel really ticked off right now. This is not a romance book. I don't know what this is besides a really long book that showed how every man is to be treated with kid gloves, but every woman is wrong. Always.
There is some nonsense with the characters trying to help Dorie save her restaurant because her craptastic husband ran off with their money and has bankrupted them. Yeah, this is the same woman anyone listens to, about anything. And of course Van is once again told to get over what her father did to her and her mother because he was angry that her mother trapped him by getting pregnant with her and he was in love with someone else the whole time. By the way, we don't really get to see Van's father speak much. Instead two other characters stand up for his selfish ass and I wish Van would have cursed them all out. I don't care about how angry you feel because you felt trapped and your dreams got deferred, you still took it out on your wife and kid. Having to read paragraphs about what a bad person Van's mother was made me ill. I doubt she enjoyed being married to a man who made her life a living hell and based on what was said, didn't even work so she was responsible for everything.
The writing just pissed me off (as you can see), if you are going to write books about domestic violence, alcoholism, etc. it would behoove people to actually do research on it. To have characters act like people should just forgive and forget and or hey, kind of your fault you get hit is just shocking to read in a contemporary romance book.
The flow was terrible from beginning to end. The book was repetitive. You had characters saying the same things to each other and repeating things we just learned to other characters repeatedly.
The setting of Whisper Beach is supposed to be in New Jersey somewhere. Besides people saying beach a lot and the characters going to the beach here and there, the whole place felt deserted. You just kept reading about the same people over and over. I kept wondering where the heck the tourists were.
The ending was very abrupt. At least you don't get a happily ever after spelled out for everyone. But you can put bits and pieces together and realize that Van is going to be visiting Whisper Beach all of the time and making sure that she is there in order to give being a couple with Joe a try.