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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Beach Rental by Grace Greene

Beach Rental by Grace Greene
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (257 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Camellia

Juli Cooke, hard-working and getting nowhere fast, marries a dying man, Ben Bradshaw, for a financial settlement, not expecting he will set her on a journey of hope and love. The journey brings her to Luke Winters, a local art dealer, but Luke resents the woman who married his sick friend and warns her not to hurt Ben—and he’s watching to make sure she doesn’t.

Until Ben dies and the stakes change.

Framed by the timelessness of the Atlantic Ocean and the brilliant blue of the beach sky, Juli struggles against her past, the opposition of Ben’s and Luke’s families, and even the living reminder of her marriage—to build a future with hope and perhaps to find the love of her life—if she can survive the danger from her past.

To Ben Bradshaw, who is terminally ill, Juli is like a diamond--brilliant, beautiful, and strong. But Juli tells him she is more like a “junkyard dog”. She stands against all odds to protect Ben as they share life at Sea Green Glory, their beach home. They strive for the ordinary life, not allowing his illness rule their world.

Juli, the foster child who felt invisible even in adulthood, finds a gentle happiness with Ben, a caring and giving companionship, but death will not be denied.

Juli, with her stubborn independence, has always known everything is temporary and plans to move on “alone again” after Ben’s death. The surprise in his will leaves her financial secure but entangled with his family and friends. She is no longer the “invisible help”.

Luke, Ben’s cousin, saw Juli before she met Ben. It wasn't a positive meeting, as the instant forceful awareness each felt triggered a panic attack in Juli that sent her running into the garden. There she met Ben. He sees and pursues the woman he feels would make his last days meaningful and full of good, ordinary living. His family and friends are already grieving for him and he does not want his last days to be full of sadness.

Luke disapproves of what he sees as a mercenary arrangement, but he stays in touch, determined to protect Ben. The ensuing conflicts take the reader along on a vicarious experience with a compelling group of characters.

The antagonists, Frankie, the sleazy, sneaky acquaintance from Juli’s past and Adele, Ben’s hateful, unreasonable sister cause Juli a heap of grief creating an undercurrent of tension that surfaces periodically throughout the story.

Maia, who works at the art gallery, and Anna Barbour, the artist, prove to be real friends to Juli through the good and the bad—something Juli never experienced before. Pastor Herrin is a new experience for Juli also. He nurtures her spiritual awakening with a gentle touch.

Beach Rental is about two very different kinds of love. Yet both are genuine and rewarding. Each of these loves shepherds Juli into a place where she blooms with each of her accomplishments. As the hard, protective shell she’d built around herself to survive in an unconcerned world, melts away, Juli flourishes and gives the reader a lovely surprise.

Grace Greene, with a captivating style, writes a compelling story about coping with the worst and enjoying the best of life, making it easy for the reader to empathize with the characters. Ms. Greene’s descriptions and her ability to create vibrant characters makes Beach Rental a book one wants to read non-stop. The strong heroine and the two very different but truly remarkable heroes lift one’s spirit and showcases the depth of caring that reinforces the reality of how valuable faith, hope, and love are in life.