A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe- Feature and Review


Whisking you back to the shores of her bestselling Beach House series, Mary Alice Monroe weaves together a tale of the struggles and triumphs of the historic Rutledge family of Charleston, South Carolina. Beautifully wrought and rich with keen insight, this is an illuminating tale of new beginnings, resilience, and one family's enduring love.

Cara Rutledge returns to her Southern home on the idyllic Isle of Palms. Everything is comfortingly the same, yet each detail is rife with painful memories. Only through reconnecting with family, friends, and the rhythms of the lowcountry can Cara release the hold of the past and open herself to the possibility of a new love, career, and hope for the future.

Meanwhile, her niece Linnea, a recent college graduate who doesn't know where her life will take her, leaves her historic home in Charleston, with all its entitlement and expectations, and heads to her aunt's beach house. On the island, she is part of the freer, natural ocean lifestyle she loves, rejoining the turtle team, learning to surf, and falling in love. Remembering the lessons of her beloved grandmother, Lovie, the original "turtle lady," Linnea rediscovers a meaningful purpose to her life and finds the courage she needs to break from tradition.

In this heartwarming novel, three generations of the Rutledge family gather together to find the strength, love, and commitment to break destructive family patterns and to forge new bonds that will endure long beyond one summer reunion.



 Beach House Reunion (Beach House #5)Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe is a 2018 Gallery Books publication.

Summer just wouldn’t be summer without a visit to Cara Rutledge’s beach house!

Just when you think this series couldn’t get any better- it does!

It’s been three years since Cara’s life turned on dime… again. After a huge emotional gut-punch, Cara rose to the occasion and battled to find her way again. Despite her determination and bravery, I still felt her fragility permeating from the pages, even though we left her in a very stable frame of mind and in a good place.

But, I was still very relieved when I found out we would get a chance to check in with Cara again. However, I never would have imagined the course her life has taken since we last touched base with her.

Cara FINALLY gets her chance at motherhood after adopting a child. She knows deep in heart she wants Hope to be raised at home, with her friends and family nearby, at her beloved beach house, where the spirit of her mother still lingers. So, she leaves Tennessee and heads back to South Carolina where life brings her even more challenges and a few wonderful surprises.

This story covers three generations- Lovie, whose spirit still haunts the beach house, her choices and decisions still reverberating as Cara learns all about motherhood, and Cara's niece, Linnea, struggles against old school southern mores, hoping to break the chain of destructive family traditions and create a new path for her family that will give her the chance to pursue her dreams and make her family proud.

I love this series! The beach house is truly one of my favorite places to escape to.

As I said in my review of the first book in this series, where Lovie's actions were revealed, this family dynamic is very realistic. In this novel, Mary Alice Monroe examines fathers passing macho- strong-man- qualities down to their sons, placing the women in their lives in certain set roles they dare not deviate from, which tragically ends up becoming a vicious cycle unless someone steps up and challenges that authority and begins to chip away at traits that bring misery and unhappiness to everyone.

As always, each chapter begins with an interesting and related detail about the turtles. This story, while working to dispel generations of bad traditions, still upholds and passes on the strong Turtle club traditions that Linnea embraced, and will no doubt pass on to future generations, as Cara will do with Hope. I really loved the correlations between Linnea and Cara. Cara was a wonderful influence on Linnea, and her choices gave Linnea the courage to make a stand.

It never occurred to me that Cara would have, or even consider having, a second chance at love, and you could have knocked me over with a feather when I realized who her love interest would be! I LOVED this! I also enjoyed seeing how everyone else is doing and was quite pleased with Linnea’s romantic interest as well.

Previous installments in this series have touched on many important issues. The ecology and climate changes are gently addressed, as is the importance of respecting sea creatures, especially in a tourist environment. The family unit, relationships, the curveballs life throws at us are realistically portrayed, and never fails to evoke a gamut of emotions from frustration and anger to heartbreak to laughter and immense pleasure at seeing these strong southern ladies prove their mettle.

But, never has a story in this series crackled with this level of taut suspense. One stormy scene, in particular, had me on the edge of my seat. It was absolutely riveting, unnerving, and incredibly intense. While there were some edgier moments in this one, the ‘beach read’ atmosphere is still intact, with the calm after the storm restoring a long overdue peace, which is inspirational and rejuvenating. The conclusion could not have been any more fitting!

Do not hit the beach this summer without this book!!





Mary Alice Monroe is known for her intimate portrayals of women's lives and keen eye to setting. Monroe brings to life the many colorful people and the compelling story layers of her home--Charleston and the the beaches of the lowcountry. 

Mary Alice Monroe's books have achieved several best seller lists including the New York Times, SIBA, and USA Today. Mary Alice has received numerous awards, including the 2014 SC Book Festival Award for Excellence in Writing, the 2015 SW Florida Book Festival Distinguished Author Award, 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, The RT Lifetime Achievement Award, and the International Book Award for Green Fiction. She serves on the board of the South Carolina Aquarium, the Leatherback Trust, and the Charleston Volunteers for Literacy. Her children's books received several awards, including the ASPCA Henry Bergh award. 

Her recent novel is the final book in a trilogy set in the lowcountry: THE SUMMER GIRLS, THE SUMMER WIND, and THE SUMMER'S END. Her next novel, A LOWCOUNTRY WEDDING, continuing the popular series, will be released in May 2016. Monroe's novel, THE BEACH HOUSE, will be made into a Hallmark film starring Andie MacDowell. 

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