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Sunday, July 14, 2013

7 Heart Review: Beach Lane by Sherryl Woods

Beach Lane (Chesapeake Shores #7)
Sherryl Woods

Page Count: 360

Release Date: 31 May 2011
Publisher: MIRA (Harlequin)
Source: Complimentary ARC provided by Romance Novel News in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Carolyn!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods returns to Chesapeake Shores with a heartfelt story about the healing power of love.

In the close-knit community of Chesapeake Shores, Maryland, Susie O'Brien and Mack Franklin's "not dating" claim befuddles everyone, especially since the two spend every spare minute together. Susie's thrilled when their friendship finally heats up. Then, just when happily-ever-after seems within reach, Mack loses the job he loves and Susie faces a devastating diagnosis.

But O'Briens always unite in a crisis. Even her cousin Jess, Susie's rival for most of their lives, becomes her staunchest supporter——especially when Mack's former lover comes to town. The stakes are higher than ever before, but Susie's definitely up to the challenge... …as long as Mack's right there by her side.
Mack and Susie share a solid, ever-loyal love that everyone—except for Mack and Susie themselves—seems to recognize. The onset and eventual defeat of an illness tests this exquisite bond, which exposes its rawest of vulnerabilities, yet at the same time, illuminates upon its unshakable strength. The entire town of Chesapeake Shores will stand by both their sides during the difficult period; many will question—while others will emphasize—the importance of faith and God's will. But when it comes down to things, what matters is that Mack and Susie fit perfectly—always have, always will. And that alone, they know, will get them through it all.

Beach Lane is highly emotional rather than romantic. There's lots of future-planning and emphasis on family matters... reading this book was like watching a short Hallmark movie. It's a quick, enjoyable read with lots of depth within the characters and honest, well-portrayed emotions. Overall, it's chaste and sweet—hardly a romance, and more a family novel.

There's a cast of marvelous, strong secondary characters, which indicates they were or will be fantastic foundations for their own stories in past and upcoming books in the series. Although Beach Lane is the seventh Woods novel to take place in Chesapeake Shores, it serves fine as a standalone novel; I hadn't read any of the previous installments, and still had no problem keeping up. You can tell with how involved all the characters are with each other, that they each have their own backstories and own lives and loves, which is what makes the intricacy of such interpersonal relationships—and in just one small town, at that!—all the more magical.

This was really an undemanding read, perfect for a brief contemporary escape with an east coast beach setting (guaranteeing a gorgeous view and the lingering scent of salt in the air). The story moved me, but in the end, was pretty unmemorable. There's nothing I adored and nothing I hated; it was just an effortless story I breezed over. I did, however, find it it extremely weird how the entire extended O'Brien family meddles in Susie's dating life, as well as in the lives of others. I know this book is strong on family values, but how realistic is it that an entire town—no matter how small—would stick it nose into such personal matters? Sherryl Woods overdid that aspect a little.


Effortless style—such smooth storytelling! // Deep, grounded, and balanced main characters // Fabulous and likable secondary characters // Clean, chaste romance // One of those books that makes you feel warm and well-loved


Painfully predictable // No chemistry in the romance since the Susie and Mack have feelings for each other from the beginning // Super-intimate family dynamic that I found weird // A bit too corny for my liking


It seemed [he] had the ability to rob her of common sense, reason, logic—all of those things on which she prided herself. And that made him not only the most inappropriate man she'd ever dated, but the most dangerous.


While buoyant in tone, Beach Lane tackles a serious terminal illness that gives it a melancholy feel to it throughout; however, once Susie overcomes her fears and learns to just live her life, there is nothing but triumph. Full of hope and light, Sherryl Woods's seventh book in the Chesapeake Shores series is about believing in yourself and believing in love even in the hardest of times—perfect for all you happily-ever-after fans Americanflag

7 hearts: Not perfect, but overall enjoyable (x)