From the publisher:
How do you start a new chapter of your life when you haven’t closed the book on the previous one?
Eighteen months ago, Autumn Divac’s husband went missing. Her desperate search has yielded no answers, and she can’t imagine moving forward without him. But for the sake of their two teenage children, she has to try.
Autumn takes her kids home for the summer to the charming beachside town where she was raised. She seeks comfort working alongside her mother and aunt at their bookshop, only to learn that her daughter is facing a huge life change and her mother has been hiding a terrible secret for years. And when she runs into the boy who stole her heart in high school, old feelings start to bubble up again. Is she free to love him, or should she hold out hope for her husband’s return? She can only trust her heart…and hope it won’t lead her astray.
Autumn has been searching for her missing husband for so long that she knows it’s time to give up, but it’s a hard thing to do. While some people think he took off with another woman, Autumn is pretty sure he didn’t. Why would he leave without any money or any of his possessions? She thinks he went to the Ukraine and was doing something for the FBI, but they are not helpful so she hires a private detective. He turns out to be not so helpful either.
Autumn’s kids are in their final years of high school. Taylor will be a senior, and her brother Caden is just a year behind. It’s been difficult for them to deal with their father’s disappearance but they have had to go on with their own lives. Autumn’s mom won’t travel so she decides to bring the kids to her mom for the summer. She lives in Sable Beach, a small beach town, and it takes several hours to drive there from their home in Tampa. Her mom’s house isn’t big, so Taylor gets the bedroom and Caden gets the couch, while Autumn sleeps in the small apartment above the garage.
The kids make friends and seem happy-ish, so Autumn relaxes a bit. It’s incredibly difficult being stuck in limbo, not knowing if her husband is alive or dead but she knows she has to end the search soon. Things take a turn when she runs into Quinn, her high school crush. He married his high school sweetheart and broke Autumn’s heart, not that he knew that. But his wife suffers from a debilitating mental illness, which culminates in her stabbing Quinn in his sleep. He survived but she’s in prison, and her mom is still in this small town, badmouthing Quinn.
Quinn and Autumn start seeing each other and all the old feelings come back but there is that pesky missing husband lingering in the background. Taylor is having some major issues, including questioning whether or not she is a lesbian. I was so impressed with how Autumn handled it, so kudos to Novak for a sensitive and realistic (to me) response.
It’s not a stretch to say you can guess what happens once Autumn and Quinn realize they have fallen in love and want to spend their lives together. The kids really like him, too.
There is another plot line regarding Mary, Autumn’s mother. Mary and Laura own the bookstore in the title, and are best friends. Mary has a very disturbing background that takes a while to unravel, but adds another dimension to the story.
This is a really good read with a lot of twists for a romance that really isn’t romantic suspense. There is the mystery of the missing husband, and Mary’s background, but everything comes together by the end. I couldn’t put this book down and I really cared what happened to all these characters. Novak always writes a good story, and I loved this one.
NOTE: Novak is offering a free “Bookstore on the Beach” Bonus Epilogue that also signs you up for her newsletter. The epilogue was truly the icing on the cake here, and I was happy to share my email so I won’t miss her next book!
7/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
THE BOOKSTORE ON THE BEACH by Brenda Novak. MIRA; Original edition (April 6, 2021). ISBN: 978-0778361053. 448 pages.