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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beach Lane by Sherryl Woods

Beach Lane by Sherryl Woods
Chesapeake Shores Series
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (368 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

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.

Both Susie O’Brien and Mack Franklin are ready to change the “non-dating” status they’ve had for years, but each is afraid of ruining a friendship that is precious. Little do they know how important their special connection to each other will become as they face enormous difficulties together. Of course, the O’Brien clan is right there supporting and ‘meddling’ all the way.

Just when Susie gains enough courage to tell Mack there needs to be a change in attitude about “non-dating”, Mack loses his high-profile sports writer job for a Baltimore newspaper. He already has a ring for her, but now he is reluctant to open up to her about his feelings. Having come from a difficult childhood, his self-esteem suffers a severe blow when he is fired. Paramount in his mind is this: "What can I offer her?"

Susie, even though shy and vulnerable, has a spine of steel determination when she believes in something, but she surprised Mack with her bossy, sassy side that intrigues him. When she finds out from her family Mack lost his job, she is devastated, thinking maybe she is not enough for him in a big crisis, after all “friendship should trump pride”. They had always been able to communicate about everything, now she fears he is drawing away. When he finally comes to her, she gives him two viable ideas on how to use his abilities to good advantage and still make a living doing what he loves.

Mack’s world begins to come right. She grounds him, fascinates him, makes him feel a whole person like he is someone worth loving. When her world is turned upside down, he stands firmly with her every step of the ways as she fights cancer. He vows they will have a long life together and live every day to the fullest. They store up precious moments to treasure. All the O’Briens help make dreams come true for them.

In Beach Lane, Sherryl Woods weaves another Chesapeake Shores tapestry of a tale that grips the heart, stirs the emotions, and showcases an exquisite love that buoys up Susie and Mack as they work through business and health issues. Woven into the tapestry are the many O’Briens that never flag in their support. Of course, there is a serpent in the tapestry in the form of a beautiful, bright, talented woman that wants Mack regardless of his commitment to Susie. The conflicts and hurts she causes make the reader wish for a stick to driver her away.

Beach Lane is bubbling over with life and love. Humor threads its way through the tapestry to lighten the dark days of battling cancer. Also, new found connects with various O’Brian family members make interesting subtle patterns in the background. A strong, significant thread is Grandma Nell who advises Susie and Mack to not let the past shadow the future. She is that connecting thread that all the O’Briens go to in time of trouble. Each of them feels sure Grandma Nell has a direct connection with God.

Beach Lane is another winner in the Chesapeake Shores series. Sherryl Woods’ “oh-so-alive characters make this story a joy to read. It is rich and bright and memorable.