Review: Dune Drive by Mariah Stewart

Dune Drive (The Chesapeake Diaries, Book 12)

Mariah Stewart

Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster

Release Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 9781501154416 (mass market)

Price: $7.99 (mass market)

 

**Disclaimer: I was given a free advance copy of Dune Drive via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review**

 

New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart returns with Dune Drive, the latest installment in her Chesapeake Diaries series set in the fictitious beachside locations of Cannonball Island and St. Dennis on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Dune Drive sees another island descendant return to this ancestral home to escape the past and find a brighter future.

Christiana “Chrissie” Jenkins makes the painful yet necessary decision to leave New Jersey and her abusive boyfriend of five years with no warning. She returns to Cannonball Island to stay with her great-grandmother, Ruby “Gigi” Carter, and start the healing process in the place where she had such good childhood memories — and to stay off the radar so that her ex-boyfriend won’t find her. As she starts to put her life back together she crosses paths with Jared Chandler, the son of the owner of a diving recovery company and good friend of her cousin, Owen. Jared, who considers women a temporary distraction, finds himself thinking of a more permanent future with Chrissie while Chrissie, who is still working on her self-esteem and jump-starting her new life as a restaurant chef, wonders how someone like Jared could ever be with someone like her. As Chrissie and Jared find their way to each other, the cloud of Chrissie’s ex-boyfriend looms until everything comes to a head after a memorable birthday party.

Stewart’s return to the popular Chesapeake Diaries series is predictable yet charming and full of local color,  but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I have previous installments in the series. The character of Chrissie Jenkins, unfortunately, is one with which I have least connected over the series. One of the nitpicks I have with Dune Drive is the treatment of a weighty subject such as domestic violence in such a lighthearted novel. Since this is supposed to be a traditional contemporary romance instead of a suspenseful romance, it was expected for the domestic violence issue to be glossed over to a degree; however, Stewart’s self-improvement, “You go, girl” theme of Chrissie’s personal redemption was a bit too saccharine. The book almost read like she took the movie Sleeping With The Enemy and boiled it down to a palatable romance novel.

Another issue I had with this book was the sheer number of secondary and tertiary characters. While it’s admirable that so many characters are a signal to Stewart’s fans that the Chesapeake Diaries series will go on for quite some time, it got overwhelming at times, especially during the events of Delia Wright and Gordon’ Chandler’s wedding weekend. I had a difficult time keeping up with the convoluted genealogy.

A bright spot was the interesting twist involving Chrissie’s estranged mother and the disappearance of Chrissie’s brother Luke when she was eight years old. Stewart did a good job of hinting that there was a backstory to that situation without giving any type of clue to that backstory.

As is the norm in the Chesapeake Diaries series, the true star was Ruby Carter, the psychic, no-nonsense, island-dwelling matriarch who celebrated her 101st birthday in Dune Drive. Her character alone is a good reason to start any book in this series, and I hope that Stewart’s plans for the series include Ruby living for at least another ten years.

Dune Drive is a good beach read and fans of Stewart and/or the Chesapeake Diaries series won’t be disappointed.

Thanks for stopping by.

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REVIEW: The Chesapeake Bride by Mariah Stewart

 

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THE CHESAPEAKE BRIDE

11th in The Chesapeake Diaries series

Mariah Stewart

Pocket Books

August 29, 2017

ISBN 9781501154355

$7.99

Treasures and home sales and history–oh my! Mariah Stewart returns with The Chesapeake Bride, the latest offering in her Chesapeake Diaries series.

Cassidy Logan, a respected architect, returns to Cannonball Island on the Maryland Eastern Shore in the hopes of renovating some vacant historical homes on behalf of her father’s real estate development company. Enter Owen Parker, local playboy, who has not spent extended time on the island in many years. The grandson of the oldest living person on Cannonball Island, Owen is hired by another island son to dive for what seems to be a historical ship that sank in the Chesapeake Bay during the War of 1812, along with another sunken ship that was long rumored to have contained treasure. Of course, the discovery of such historical finds would put a major wrench in Cassidy’s development plans (and could cancel them altogether), and it doesn’t help that Owen–with whom she shares a definite chemistry that she tries to avoid–constantly misconstrues her attempts to highlight the island’s history for marketing purposes as exploitation of that history. Owen’s footloose and fancy-free ways also grate against Cassidy’s need for stability, and how the two reconcile their vastly different personalities and world views with their growing interest in each other is yet another display of Ms. Stewart’s writing skill.

Ms. Stewart once again provides a light, entertaining read that is not your usual treacle-sweet romance. The subtle yet pointed commentary on history versus commerce, and gentrification, is an interesting thread and elevates the story beyond the traditional. The inclusion of strong female characters of different educational and socioeconomic levels (including island matriarch Ruby Parker, who is a spry 100 years old) is a treat; Ms. Stewart aptly demonstrates that a woman’s fortitude comes in different packages, and all are equally respected (and needed). The only drawback to the book is the somewhat clichéd pairing of Cassidy and Owen, especially so early in the book. While this is the traditional method of the “happily ever after” template of romance novels, sometimes readers would like a bit of a twist and challenge in their main characters reaching that happy ending.

The Chesapeake Bride also gives a nod to its predecessors in the series, and gives enough incentive to go back and read the rest of the books–although the mentions can be a bit heavy-handed at times. While the book can be dismissed as beach reading (and it certainly serves its purpose in that regard), there is enough substance in this book to make even the most romance-averse reader give it a shot. The Chesapeake Bride, as one of Ms. Stewart’s signature books, was pleasant from start to finish.

Want more Mariah Stewart? Well, Simon and Schuster is hosting an End-of-Summer giveaway! Win a free copy of Driftwood Point, the 10th installment in the Chesapeake Diaries series and the story of Lisbeth Parker (Owen’s sister) and Alec Jansen.  How cool is that?

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END OF SUMMER GIVEAWAY:

We’re celebrating The Chesapeake Bride and Summer 2017 with one giveaway for Driftwood Point, 10th  in The Chesapeake Diaries Series by Mariah Stewart! The last day for entries will be Friday, September 22nd (the official last day of summer!) The winner will receive one copy of Driftwood Point. U.S. only, please. Leave a comment (no spam, please) or shoot me your email address if you’re interested but remember – you can only win once!

NOTE FOR THE NEW YEAR:

Look for Gallery Books’ second installment in Mariah Stewart’s all-new trade original women’s fiction series, The Hudson Sisters, following a trio of reluctant sisters as they set out to fulfill their father’s dying wish—and discover themselves in the process. Book 2, The Sugarhouse Blues, will publish March 2018!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories.  A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tends her gardens.  Visit her website at mariahstewart.com, like her on Facebook at AuthorMariahStewart, and follow her on Instagram at mariah_stewart_books.

 

 

 

What I’m Reading: The Steel Kiss by Jeffery Deaver

The Steel Kiss

Jeffery Deaver

Grand Central Publishing

March 2016

 

The Steel Kiss is the latest in the Lincoln Rhyme series by Jeffery Deaver. I received an advance copy through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

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Rhyme, who is now teaching instead of working with the NYPD to solve crimes, is nevertheless drawn into an interesting case: a man was trapped in a moving escalator and died from the resulting injuries, and Rhyme is hired by the widow’s attorney to figure out how the maintenance door managed to spring open so that the man could fall through it.

On a parallel track, Detective Amelia Sachs is now working the Major Crimes squad as a direct result of her severe arthritis. She is hunting a killer who is targeting people who use “smart” apparatus: computer-controlled appliances and cars that can be accessed via smartphone apps and wearable technology. Rhyme and Sachs soon find out that their investigations dovetail, and former rookie Ron Pulaski–still dealing with head injuries incurred in The Coffin Dancer–is almost caught in the crossfire.

Deaver weaves his usual interesting story while continuing the not-so-subtle rant against our computer-dependent society that he began in The Broken Window. The divergent cases, as well as the plot twists that lead to a rather satisfying yet unpredictable conclusion, are classic Deaver. Still, I did not enjoy this latest Rhyme novel as much as I have others. While I understand the need for character growth in order for a series to remain successful, the direction in which Deaver is taking his Rhyme and Sachs characters aren’t as riveting as in previous books. Still, Deaver knows how to deliver a story, and both fans and non-fans alike will enjoy it.

“Oh, right”: We Had Some Fiction Stories in 2014.

Good read by Kalisha Buckhanon: “Oh, right”: We Had Some Fiction Stories in 2014..

Not for the Faint of Heart

Good read. I just blogged about something similar the other day (or was it yesterday?). — T.

Taking the Day Off (Clarion Write-A-Thon Day 6)

Hi all,

 

Today was my annual physical exam. After being poked and prodded (you get extra tests after the age of 40. Yay. :/), I haven’t gotten around to writing yet today. I did find out that (barring any weirdness with my lab results) I will be shuffling around this mortal coil for some time to come. I also got to have a lovely lunch at Negril Village to break my no-eating-after-midnight fast. 😀

I will get back on the updates this weekend. Thanks for stopping by.