REVIEW: THE HIGH TIDE CLUB, BY MARY KAY ANDREWS

 

When ninety-nine-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick summons Brooke Trappnell to Talisa Island, her 20,000 acre remote barrier island home, Brooke is puzzled. Everybody in the South has heard about the eccentric millionaire mistress of Talisa, but Brooke has never met her. Josephine’s cryptic note says she wants to discuss an important legal matter with Brooke, who is an attorney, but Brooke knows that Mrs. Warrick has long been a client of a prestigious Atlanta law firm.

Over a few meetings, the ailing Josephine spins a tale of old friendships, secrets, betrayal and a long-unsolved murder. She tells Brooke she is hiring her for two reasons: to protect her island and legacy from those who would despoil her land, and secondly, to help her make amends with the heirs of the long dead women who were her closest friends, the girls of The High Tide Club—so named because of their youthful skinny dipping escapades—Millie, Ruth and Varina. When Josephine dies with her secrets intact, Brooke is charged with contacting Josephine’s friends’ descendants and bringing them together on Talisa for a reunion of women who’ve actually never met.

My Thoughts: The High Tide Club is a book about friendships, secrets, and the things that happen to tear friends apart.

Brooke, a young lawyer who left a practice in Savannah to set up her own office in St. Ann’s, is struggling to raise her three-year-old son; she has secrets of her own, and keeps them close. When she gets the call from Josephine, she is reluctant to get involved. Especially when she realizes that one of Josephine’s old friends was her own grandmother.

The story goes back and forth in time, with narrators in the 1940s and in the present. Just when Josephine finally has some of the descendants of her old friends around her, telling her story, she dies unexpectedly. Although at ninety-nine, with a terminal illness, it could have happened at any time.

Because of her ill health and age, Josephine’s story unfolded very slowly, in bits and pieces, which frustrated the listeners. If only she had held on one more day!

How did the skinny dipping and occasional pranks change into big secrets and mysteries? What really happened back then? With Josephine gone, how would the rest of the story unfold? How does the discovery of old letters add to the mystery?

I enjoyed the characters and with each turn of a page, I was eager to find out what really happened. So many unexpected twists came at them, and none of the descendants could have seen any of them coming. 4.5 stars.


***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.
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REVIEW: WHISKEY BEACH, BY NORA ROBERTS

 

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Eli Landon has come back to Bluff House in Whiskey Beach, beaten down and troubled after a traumatic year in Boston. His grandmother Hester, who has lived in the home for years, is recuperating in Boston after a fall one night that left her without her memories of what had transpired.

The big old house is filled with sentimental objects and reminders of the family legacy. Abra Walsh, his grandmother’s housekeeper, has taken on the project of helping Eli recover from his horrendous year, and her little reminders of healthy living in the form of post-its are amusing and delightful. Will a special connection develop between these two?

What Eli must try to piece together is what really happened to his wife Lindsay, who was found murdered in their Back Bay home. One bulldog cop named Wolfe is sure that Eli killed her, but neither he nor the DA have been able to make a case. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t do it, is Wolfe’s line of thought.

Starting over in Whiskey Beach will become complicated by some troubling events that happen soon after Eli’s return. A break-in, an assault on Abra, a P.I. who is investigating Eli, and then the death of that same P.I.

And who is digging trenches in the Bluff House basement? What is the truth behind the legend of Esmeralda’s Dowry, a supposedly buried treasure? Are all these events somehow connected? And what long buried secrets will be unearthed?

Whiskey Beach is a gorgeously written tale that wrapped itself around this reader, reeling me in with each page, wondering about the mysteries while enjoying the interaction between the characters. The settings, and most especially the gorgeous Bluff House, with its nooks and crannies and secret passages, that felt like another character, made me want to savor the moments in this story. I also enjoyed the historical references to Prohibition days as they related to the whiskey barons in this story. Recommended for those who enjoy romantic suspense. I didn’t have everything figured out before the end, but I liked that I correctly guessed some of the plot twists and turns. 5.0 stars.