BEACH SEASON collects four novellas by a variety of popular authors including #1 New York Times Bestseller Lisa Jackson. All four romances are set in beach towns and perfect for a little summer beach reading. (Or perhaps summer-wishing-you-were-at-the-beach-reading.)
June's Lace by Cathy Lamb
The anthology opens with my favorite of the four novellas - "June's Lace" by Cathy Lamb. June MacKenzie is almost at the end of a long, contentious divorce. It's been two years of fighting with her ex and the last thing on her mind is romance. But then she's rescued from a sneaker wave by Reece, a hunky songwriter. Now she's tempted to trust and fall in love again; however, her ex is trying to claim half of her successful wedding dress business.
What I loved most about "June's Lace" was the focus on June's business, friends, and family. I just believe in a romance more when the leads have a life outside of their relationship. And June definitely has a fulfilling life with our without Reece. But he fits with her and I believed in their happy ending.
Second Chance Sweethearts by Holly Chamberlin
Holly Chamberlin's contribution is also about a woman escaping from a bad marriage - in this case, a physically abusive one from a man who turned out to be a thief and a con. Thea Foss escapes to the seaside town of Ogunquit, Maine only to run into her first love, Hugh Landry. The two separated, partly due to their parents, but now they're old enough to ignore their parents' class differences.
I thought "Second Chance Sweethearts" was a sweet story, although the confrontation between Thea and her ex was more cartoonish than cathartic. It's your basic, simple romance, but there's nothing wrong with that.
Carolina Summer by Rosalind Noonan
"Carolina Summer" ups the suspense elements that were slighly on display in "Second Chance Sweethearts" (due to Thea's worry about her ex finding her). Jane Doyle is on the run from someone who wants to kill her, but she gets waylaid halfway to her brother's house in Florida. Luckily she gets stuck in a North Carolina town with a hunky sheriff, Cooper Locklear.
There was a bit too much going on in "Carolina Summer" for a novella. It was an enjoyable read, but both the romance and the suspense were thinly developed. Not to mention Jane did one incredibly stupid thing that really annoyed me. I might've forgotten about it except for the fact that she does this boneheaded thing towards the end of the story.
The Brass Ring by Lisa Jackson
Although it is not mentioned on the front or backcover, Lisa Jackson's story is a reprint. However, I doubt any but her diehard fans already own a copy. Bantam Loveswept published "The Brass Ring" in 1988 with Jackson writing under the name Susan Crose - not something a casual fan would come across.
Fans of Nicholas Sparks' THE VOW will probably enjoy this one. I found it overly dramatic. Maybe it was just the eighties, but I rolled my eyes a few times. Shawna's fiancé Parker is in a car accident the night before their wedding. When he wakes up, he can't remember the past several years of his life. Even worse, an eighteen-year-old girl has shown up claiming he's the father of her baby and he needs to take responsibility no matter what the situation.
There's nothing really wrong with "The Brass Ring," but the plot felt over-the-top to me. Amnesia and a baby daddy scandal? It's hard to cover one of those topics in a novel without drifting into cliché, much less a novella.
BEACH SEASON is exactly what you'd expect based on the title and cover. All four authors do address some serious topics, but none of the darker aspects are explored in depth. I'm not sure they should be, as it would spoil BEACH SEASON's tone. The four novellas contained within are all a touch underdeveloped, but it's forgivable when they're all meant to be quick, fun reads.