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Cocoa Beach: A Novel Paperback – Large Print, June 27, 2017
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“Romance and mystery, war and Prohibition, infidelity and murder, inheritance and lies—the list of ingredients is long and potent in this cocktail of dramatic suspense rooted in early-20th-century Florida . . . Williams’ story, a rich brew of suspicion and intensity, also has a flavor of Daphne du Maurier, with its Cornish roots, dubious housekeeper, and embattled heroine . . . there’s no denying the author’s full-blooded commitment to her intricate edifice . . . Williams spins a good, spirited yarn.” (Kirkus)
“. . . A gripping novel of scandal and suspense. Williams is at the top of her game, crafting an engrossing beach read with enough twists and turns, action and surprises to keep anyone riveted. Florida in the summer was never more intriguing.” (RT Book Reviews)
“[Beatriz Williams is] a master of the historical fiction genre . . . COCOA BEACH is a breathtaking family drama that moves from the battlefields of World War I France to the sun-soaked beaches of Prohibition Era Florida.” (Shelf Awareness)
“If you aren’t actually traveling to Florida this summer, picking up Beatriz Williams’ latest just might be the next best thing . . . If you’re hankering for a Prohibition-era romp through Florida with a healthy dose of intrigue, look no further.” (Bookish)
“Williams has gained a solid reputation with readers for her gracefully written historical fiction, and COCOA BEACH is an excellent example of her ability to flawlessly marry a finely honed plot rich in unexpected twists and turns with a full cadre of richly nuanced characters, who will keep readers engaged from the book’s first page to its stunning conclusion. Readers who enjoy novels with a strong sense of place and time will especially savor William’s latest masterwork . . .” (Reader to Reader)
From the Back Cover
France, 1917. Burdened by a dark family secret, Virginia Fortescue joins the Red Cross as an ambulance driver on the battlefields of the Western Front, where she meets a charismatic British army surgeon who wins her heart. But Captain Simon Fitzwilliam’s past has its own secrets, and as the war ends, Virginia leaves their marriage and returns to New York, heartbroken and pregnant.
Florida, 1922. Newly widowed, Virginia arrives in the tropical boomtown of Cocoa Beach to settle her estranged husband’s estate, and discovers a dazzling world of citrus groves, white beaches, and rumrunners. But Virginia senses a predatory presence beneath the surface of this oasis. The more she learns about Simon’s life, the more she fears that the dangers that led to his death may now threaten her life, and their daughter’s as well . . .
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A few of the events in the book were never fully explained: What really happened to Virginia that moonless night on the beach? Why was she given the medication she was given at Maitland? Mr. Marshall's role in the story? The revelation, at the end, of Virginia's father? Lydia's role in the entire book? I read the book not really all that interested in the characters, but wondering what would happen in the end.
I also found what seem to be a few editing mistakes: page 105 - Virginia is sitting with Hazel to her left, Johnson to her right - but then Green starts speaking to Virginia. Chapter 29 - the date given is July 22 - yet chapters 28 and 30 take place on July 25.. Did we go back in time for a moment? It seems as if the story is simply continuing, from the hotel in Cocoa (Chapter 28) to the highway outside Winter Park (Chapter 29).
All in all, the book is entertaining - I enjoyed the setting - the time and place make me want to read more of Beatriz Williams' books - but I hope the next B.W. book I read is more like the engaging, colorful, and interesting Along the Infinite Sea.
I had tweeted to Ms. Williams asking for a family tree of her books. I never received a reply. When I finished this book and saw that she finally connected it to another...well...heck, I don't even remember that book Beatriz. I read a lot of books. I can't keep all your facts straight when you go back and forth and back and forth. I'm sorry. I really wanted to like this. I just felt like this book was all build up to a "oh wait lemme flip that oh lemme flip that again oh look did you see what I did there? HAHA dear reader I don't care what you think" ending.
I'm writing this review so that I remember not to buy any future books. And sadly, I'm pulling her from my twitter authors list so that I don't make the mistake again. That is how strongly I feel. It is only 2 stars because I did manage to finish it.
I did like the twist involving Simon, Samuel and Clara and did not see parts of that twist coming so the element of surprise was good. However the ending left me totally confused as I have no idea who arrives with Marshall at the end of the book. I did look up online to see if I had missed something in the book that would explain the ending and the only thing I saw was to read her book "Wicked City" to find out the identity of the arrivals. Personally, I found that suggestion a bit frustrating.