On Sunset Beach (Chesapeake Bay Diaries #8)
By: Mariah Stewart
Published date: July 1, 2014
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5
Cheeseball rating: 3 out of 5.
How hot is it: 1 out of 5.
Hero: Ford Sinclair
Heroine: Carly Summit
Ok, so, this book. After reading too much bad erotica, I decided I’d go the other direction and try to soothe my overloaded senses with some wholesome, small town, cozy romance. And that is exactly what Mariah Stewart delivered. Here’s the thing, I’ve never read a Mariah Stewart novel, but I know she writes a lot of them and that they’re pretty popular. I guess what I hadn’t been prepared for was how much out of my wheelhouse this book would be.
The basic story is that Ford comes back from working for the military in Africa. He’s seen the woman he was in love with shot to death, and returns to his family’s inn on St. Dennis on the Chesapeake Bay (I’ve looked it up, I don’t think this place actually exists, but I’d love to know for sure). Carly Summit is a privileged international art gallery owner and investor, because those are super common these days, who is in St. Dennis to show the paintings of a long-deceased St. Dennis artist. They meet at a party, and seem to like each other, then Ford conveniently has to interview her for his family-run newspaper, and they form a relationship. It all unfolds kind of slowly and without any real sort of honest emotional connection.
I think this kind of romance novel is definitely for an older age group, even though the characters are in my age group – late 20’s/early 30’s. In general, even though I got a warm and welcoming feel from the supporting characters, and the descriptions of the St. Dennis community at large, it didn’t stop me from being just a little bored. The book just lacked sparkle, and a sense of urgency from the characters that would lend some dimension to their love story.
I also didn’t think the characters were all that developed and their whole personalities seemed to hinge on one trait, making them somewhat generic and uninteresting. The dialogue was clunky, and oftentimes much of what was said by a character was said again in the next sentence, only in a different way, and not much of it sounded how people would actually talk in the first place. There was also a kind of embarrassing misuse of slang wherein the author used the already anachronistic, “Oh, snap,” when one of the characters can’t recall the location of her keys. Sorry, folks, but that’s not how “oh, snap” works.
I don’t mean to be a bummer about this book because I think it has a good heart, and as I’ve said, the author writes and sells a lot of books, so maybe I’m way out in left field. The book was a gentle balm for an overactive mind, and kind of took me to a place where people sit on their porch all day and drink lemonade, but I couldn’t help but get a little bored. Maybe that’s my own fault though, maybe I now expect every couple to engage in snappy banter and sexually heightened interludes, and need to make more room for the ordinary, but then again, isn’t that the reason I read romance novels in the first place?