Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Super Tuesday January 28 Releases: Review 4

At the River’s Edge
By Mariah Stewart
Publisher: Ballantine
Release Date: 
January 28, 2014

Sophie Enright thinks of St. Dennis, Maryland, as the small town where her grandfather and her brother and his soon-to-be bride live. It’s a nice place to visit, but it’s not where she expects to live. But when a case she has thrown her heart into as the ADA in charge falls apart, and she discovers her boyfriend in flagrante delicto with another ADA in his parked car, St. Dennis looks like a good bolt hole while Sophie finds the answers to some big questions about her life. Her brother Jesse is not only delighted to offer her his guest room again, but he also offers her a job. The family law firm really needs another lawyer, and there is nothing that Jesse and their grandfather would like better than to welcome another Enright. Sophie is willing to help Jesse out temporarily, but she lacks her brother and grandfather’s certainty that she belongs in the firm her grandfather founded. When she happens upon an abandoned restaurant, an old dream surfaces, and one hot guy is filling her head with new dreams. Suddenly St. Dennis looks like exactly the place Sophie Enright belongs.

Jason Bowers moved himself and his landscaping business to St. Dennis from Florida because with his parents years ago and brother killed in Iraq more recently, his brother’s son is his only family. If his nephew is in St. Dennis, that’s where Jason plans to be so that he can be a part of the boy’s life. St. Dennis is a nice town. Jason’s business is prospering, and he has plans to expand soon. He’s made friends, he likes Jesse Enright (the man his former sister-in-law is about to marry), and he enjoys the time he spends with his nephew. Although his brother’s death is still an open wound, Jason is pleased with his life and the decisions he made. But life gets a lot more interesting when he meets Sophie Enright.

A happily-ever-after seems just around a curve in the road, but the proverbial path to true love proves to have a couple of rocky spots. First, the rough diamond of a restaurant that Sophie plans to polish to perfection turns out to be the place Jason had his eye on and had already tried to buy to complete his business dreams. He’s disgruntled that Sophie bought the place he considers his. Sophie doesn’t like his reaction, and she is really unhappy that he has dumped a smelly load that is a necessary part of his business just where it will interfere with her customers’ outdoor dining experience. As if that were not enough to create problems, her faithless ex puts in an appearance, and he’s eager to turn back the clock. Can two people who clearly were meant for each other get around these barriers?

At the River’s Edge is the seventh book in Stewart’s Chesapeake Diaries series, and St. Dennis and its citizens are as warm and friendly as ever. Sophie and Jason are likeable characters, the kind of pleasant people readers might know, with just enough complications in their past and imperfections in their present to make them interesting and real. An attraction that is strong from their first meeting grows into more than lust as they discover that they also like one another and share core values.

Readers who are familiar with earlier books in the series will enjoy seeing many familiar characters. The glimpses of Jesse and Brooke (Book 4, Hometown Girl, 2011) and their wedding are a particular delight, and Sophie and Jason’s love for her grandfather, Curtis Enright, was also a favorite thread for me. If you are a longtime Mariah Stewart reader like me, you will smile to see some of the family guests at the wedding. Home for the Summer (Book 5, 2012) sent me back to reread Stewart’s Mercy Street books, and At the River’s Edge had me pulling the 1990s Enright books (Devlin’s Light, Wonderful You, and Moon Dance) off the keeper shelf for a reread. I do like intersecting worlds.

At the River’s Edge is not an extraordinary book. Instead it is a story about ordinary people and the heartbreaks and miracles that make up their lives. It is a sweet, satisfying read, and sometimes that is exactly what I want. Book 8, On Sunset Beach, the story of the last Sinclair sibling and Ellie’s friend, Carly Summit, will be released July 1, just in time for a summer trip to St. Dennis. I am so there.

Do you crave adventure in your reading, or do you have a fondness for books that showcase the extraordinariness of the ordinary?

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