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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