Monday, July 2, 2012

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Ocean Beach by Wendy Wax and Giveaway!
Release Date: June 26th, 2012
Publisher: Berkley (Penguin)
Page Count: 433
Source: Complimentary ARC provided by publicist, Joan Schulhafer Publishing & Media Consulting, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)

Unlikely friends Madelin, Avery, and Nicole have hit some speed bumps in their lives, but when they arrive in Miami's South Beach neighborhood, they are all hoping for a do-over. Literally. They've been hired to bring a once-grand historic house back to its former glory on a new television show called Do-Over. If they can just get this show off the ground, Nikki could get back on her feet financially, Avery could restart her ruined career, and Maddie would have one shot at keeping her family together.

At least, that's the plan—until the women realize that having their work broadcast is one thing, having their personal lives play out on TV is another thing entirely. Soon they are struggling to hold themselves, and their project, together. With a decades-old mysteryÒand the hurricane season—looming, the women are forced to figure out just how they'll weather life's storms...
What Stephanie Thinks: Wendy Wax is back and better than ever with her sequel to Ten Beach Road, which I reviewed last year. Though Madeline, Avery, and Nicole have reunited to tackle this time, The Millicent, a majestic mansion brimming with love, history, and overlooking Florida's most modern and exquisite of beaches that is in desperate need of tender loving care, Ocean Beach isn't just another home-improvement story; it isn't just the same people in a different setting, time, and situation. Ocean Beach is, in sorts, a reprise of Wax's glowing characters we met and fell in love with in the first book, but moreso a whole new journey that, in itself, has a similarly satisfying and just-as-heartfelt destination.

My heart soared high at the return of each of the characters that I loved like my own siblings, mother, and children, even the minor ones, such as Maddie's still-vulnerable, yet strong kids, Andrew and Kyra, Avery's ever-understanding and swoon-worthy boyfriend, Chase, and Nicole's very protective and very spicy love interest, Special Agent Joe Giraldi (woooo) and even higher at the introduction of new ones, such as the delightful Max, The Millicent's owner, and Kyra's precious son and Maddie's first grandson, Dustin. While Ocean Beach itself is a fine piece of work and would make a fabulous stand-alone novel, I think readers and fans of the first story will be able to appreciate it and once again fall hard even more, this time around.

Wendy Wax's voice is prolific—descriptive, tender, wry, and warm in all the right places. Her words sparkle off the pages; her writing is therapy for the soul. There isn't one stray sentence in Ocean Beach (and in Ten Beach Road!); her conventions and structure are pleasantly well-written and easy to read.

Another thing I like about this book is how there is an element of mystery and suspense, which wasn't prevalent in the first book. A vague, secretive mystery involving the disappearance of Max's son more than forty years ago shrouds the entire storyline, as well as unsettling and unconventional discomforts regarding Nicole's first client in her matchmaking business that she's determined to have on its feet once again, and also the notorious and Daniel Deranian: Dustin's insufferable celebrity father.

A huge predicament is Do-Over's television network's shameless lack of privacy and threat to cancel at anytime. This concern looms over everyone in the Millicent, and is an interesting, realistic, and completely frustrating aspect of the story. There are other numerous complex storylines weaved together in Ocean Beach; a few I admired and gobbled up (like my favorite type of pie) include the budding relationship between the stubborn Avery and her once-estranged and now-repentant birth mother, Deirdre, the difficult, complicated affair between Kyra and Daniel, and the 'golden' past of Max Golden.

I absolutely recommend this one to all lovers of feel-good beach reads that aren't shallow and fluffy, not because it has a beachy theme, but because it actually has substance and genuine emotions, as well as to fans of women's fiction with strong familial anecdotes. Both in content, style, and resonance, Wax brings her lovable characters to life and pens a well-organized and meaningful story in Ocean Beach.

Stephanie Loves: "[Kyra's] brain knew and remembered all the reasons she'd had to give [Daniel] up. Her heart seemed to have developed a worrisome case of amnesia."

Radical Rating: 8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Thanks to the publicist, Joan Schulhafer Publishing & Media Consulting, there is ONE print copy of Ocean Beach up for grabs! Stay tuned tomorrow for a giveaway for a copy of Ten Beach Road as well as my revisited review ;) To enter this giveaway, all you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below:
Giveaway runs through July 17th, 2012 at 11.59 pm (EST).
Open to US and CAN readers only!
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!