I simply couldnít resist the title of this book. Here I was, enjoying my month (OK, three weeks) at the shore. This book seemed like a perfect beach read - and would have been, if it hadnít rained for 16 straight days. Stockenberg has penned a fine contemporary romance with a nice dollop of suspense to keep the story going. Primarily this is a tale which proves that you can go home again.
The setting is Cape Cod, the town of Chepaquit. Laura Shore fled her
home as soon as she graduated from high school for Portland, Oregon,
about as far as she could go. Her memories of her childhood and youth
are anything but pleasant. Her family was less than respectable. Her
uncle had murdered his wife in a fit of rage. Her father had a violent
temper and had run the family nursery business, Shore Gardens, almost
into the ground.
Perhaps her worst memory was the day when Laura was thirteen and she had been assaulted by four of her classmates. She was rescued by Kendall Barclay, scion of the townís leading family. Fourteen year old Ken, the class dork, had received a beating for his efforts and when Laura wrote him a letter of thanks, Ken had replied with a curt note telling her to stay away. Yes, Laura had no good memories of life in Chepaquit.
Laura has come home to dedicate her fatherís gravestone. She is joined
by her sister Corrine, who stayed home to care for her now deceased
parents, and her brother Snack, who also left home at an early age. Her
fatherís latest will leaves Shore Nursery to Corrine and she has a
proposition for her siblings. Will they spend ďa month at the ShoreĒ to
help her save the business? If they succeed, Corrine will share the
business with her siblings. After some resistance, both Laura and Snack
agree. They both feel that they owe Corrine their help; after all, she
cared for their mother and the nursery while Laura and Snack were off
pursuing their own lives.
Shore Gardensí financial needs bring Laura back into contact with
Kendall who, since his fatherís death, runs the local bank. The awkward
and dorky teenager has grown into a hunk, but Laura doesnít trust him or his motives. Still, that event twenty-years ago shaped both Ken and
Laura and created a link between them that still resonates.
A Month at the Shore illuminates the power of childhood
experiences in shaping lives. By any measure, Laura is a success. She
worked her way through college and is a prosperous computer consultant.
Yet she cannot escape the feelings of inferiority instilled by her hard
scrabble youth. If Laura had been moved to excel by the past, Snack
reacted quite differently. He has drifted through life, getting into
minor trouble with the law, never settling down. Corrine is confident
when it comes to the nursery business, but insecure and shy about
dealing with people.
There are three threads in A Month at the Shore, each intriguing
in and of itself. The first concerns the efforts of the three siblings
to get the business back in shape. The second centers on the developing
romance between Ken and Laura. The third develops when a long-dead body
is found in the nurseryís compost heap. Will their familyís disreputable past come back to haunt this generation of Shores? Before the truth about the murder is uncovered, Laura will find herself in grave danger.
The romance is engaging and enjoyable. Rooted as it is in their past,
the attraction that sparks to life between Laura and Ken makes eminent
sense. Ken is the perfect hero, perhaps almost too perfect, but clearly
a gem. He knows that Laura is the woman he has been waiting for, yet he
also understands that she has to overcome the baggage she carries from
the past if they are to make a life together.
All in all, A Month at the Shore is a most enjoyable contemporary romance. Stockenberg has created an interesting cast of characters, provides a most satisfactory romance, and integrates the suspense element seamlessly into her story. This is a perfect book for a summer day - or any other day, for that matter.