(There are no Spoilers in this review)Greer Hennessey is a location scout/location manager for a movie studio in Los Angeles so she's used to living out of a suitcase and being on the go. It actually works for her life right now since she recently lost her mother to cancer, and her only other family is her grandmother who lives in a nursing home. She hasn't been in a relationship since she caught her studio lawyer boyfriend, Sawyer, cheating on her almost two years ago.
Right now she's in the process of finding the perfect 'old Florida' coastal town to film a new blockbuster featuring a super-star rapper turned actor as its lead character. The possibility of this film being a major hit depends a lot on Greer finding the perfect location. Greer thinks she's found it in Cypress Key, Florida. It rests lazily on the West coast south of the Panhandle with the waters of the Gulf of Mexico lapping at its shoreline. As Greer prepares for the cast and crew to arrive she starts the ground work with the small community renting the necessary buildings for filming, finding housing for the stars and producer and obtaining the permits needed to get the project started. Eb Thibadeaux is the mayor of Cypress Key and to say the he and Greer get off on the wrong foot is an understatement but she can't afford to alienate the one person who has the power to make her job go smoothly or block her at every turn. He's not only the mayor, he's the city engineer and part owner of the motel she's just leased for the next several weeks where the crew will be staying, including herself.
As if she doesn't have enough going on, her long, lost father, whom she hasn't seen in thirty years is trying to connect with her. Apparently her mother and father had mended some fences before Lise died and in her last days had been pushing Greer to give him a chance and at least get to know him a little. Lise had obviously given Clint her contact information because now he was calling and texting almost daily. As luck would have it, Clint was living in Florida, only an hour or so from Cypress Key. Though Greer feels an obligation to her mother to go see him, she isn't counting on anything else. She doesn't need or want him in her life after all these years. Besides, she's too busy with work to have time for this. Her number one priority is to get this movie made.
Oh my! I don't know where to start! I guess I should start by saying I am a long-time fan of Mary Kay Andrews' books. Granted, there have been some that I love more than others but BEACH TOWN is proof that MKA is at the top of her game! There are so many things I loved about this book
The first and most obvious is the location. Previously Savannah has been the backdrop for most of her novels, but this is her second book, the first being LADIES NIGHT, that takes place in Florida. The thing that makes this book special to me is that it basically takes place in my back yard. These are my stomping grounds and it warmed my heart being able to relate and form actual pictures in my mind of these places that I know. It gave the story an authenticity that can't be fabricated. I could be wrong, but I believe Andrews' fictional Cypress Key is actually patterned after Cedar Key, a quaint little town I've been to many times and is less than an hour from my house in Ocala. With all the familiarity of the surroundings it created a feeling of endearment for this reader.
I'll be honest, I'm not a big movie buff anymore and I didn't know if I would really get into a storyline about movie-making but I quickly put those worries aside. The wonderful characters are what drove this story and getting to know Greer and how she handled her job responsibilities made for an interesting read and it helped that I really liked her. The secondary characters were all so genuine and real that nothing seemed forced. MKA is known for her original and quirky characters and she came up with some good ones for BEACH TOWN.
Though there are a few different stories being told here, they all fit together and compliment the main story line, which is Greer and her personal and professional life. Even though this is a stand-alone novel, I could definitely see a sequel considering all the great characters and avenues that could be explored. I would love to see Greer and the gang again sometime down the road.
One thing that did surprise me a bit though, was how long the book was. At 445 pages, it seems her books are getting bigger and bigger. That said, I didn't experience any lulls in the story that you might expect from a book that big.
So, now you know I really loved this book, but I want to be clear. This is not a spine-tingling page turner with surprises at every turn. What it is, though, is a completely engrossing, well developed story that was genuine and totally satisfying. I'd call it contemporary, Southern womens fiction. It was everything I've come to expect and love from Mary Kay Andrews. BEACH TOWN is a fun, quick read that is sure to be on the list of top summer reads this season. Her Southern charm, along with great stories and believable characters win out every time.
Disclaimer: I received an advance digital galley copy from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Published: May 19, 2015
Length: 445 pp
Source: St. Martins Press via NetGalley