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Three women in need of a second chance…or is it a third?
Madeline, Avery and Nicole, the unlikely friends from Ten Beach Road, have hit some speed bumps in their lives, but when they arrive in Miami’s South Beach neighborhood, they are all hoping for a do-over. Literally. They’ve been hired to bring a once-grand historic house back to its former glory on a new television show called Do-Over. A lot hinges on the success of the DIY program. For Nikki, it would mean getting back on her feet financially. For Avery, it’s a chance to restart her ruined career. And Maddie hopes it will give her a shot at keeping her family together.
At least, that’s the plan—until they realize that having their work broadcast is one thing, but having their personal lives play out on TV is another story entirely. Soon they’re struggling to hold themselves and the renovation together, even as a decades-old mystery—and the hurricane season—loom on the horizon, threatening not only the project but everything that’s brought them together.
“A well-rounded supporting cast and just the right amount of suspense and drama.”
“Have I got a book for your pool or beach trips this summer… Ocean Beach is about so many things—relationships, forgiveness, revenge, art deco (really cool design stuff in here!) and making lemonade out of lemons. Each character was so finely drawn and detailed that I felt as though I knew them personally by the end of the book. Ocean Beach is human nature at its best…worst…and everything in between.”
—The Novel Life
“Wax does a wonderful job… The women are very sympathetic and readers will want their success, even as some are, at least temporarily, making the wrong choices. The plot raises both questions and deep emotions to keep readers racing to the end to find out what happens to them all.”
—RT Book Reviews
“Where shall I begin? This is a wonderful “ensemble” grouping of characters, all of whom manage to hold their own in a very crowded line-up, yet each has a story that needs to be told and which makes the stories of the other characters just that much richer… It’s a terrific book… beautifully written… one fantastic read, and I hope you’ll take the time to enjoy it as I did.”
—The Book Binge
“The book offer fascinating DIY details and a delightful supporting cast (the Oscar goes to Max) as the women hammer out their problems and shore up their friendship.”
—Nancy Pate, On A Clear Day I Can Read Forever
“Wax is great at describing the Florida coasts, architecture, and Art Deco homes, making the setting almost a character unto itself… a great summer read that will take readers tithe beach, show them what it means to come together, and triumph over the most harsh circumstances even without creature comforts.”
—Savvy Verse and Wit
“Ocean Beach is the perfect beach read for someone looking for a bit more substance. Readers will quickly become involved with these flawed, yet strong, female characters. With so many different personalities, it will be very easy to find one—or more—to relate to.”
“Wendy Wax has packed this book with a wonderful characters in an awesome setting and a story that grabs you from the first page… I love the way this author writes. She writes about strong women. Women that are facing life’s changes with perfect amounts of reality, humor and intrigue… Thank you Wendy for writing a perfect escape!”
—Escape with Dollycas Into a Good Book
“Each character immediately grabbed me, as if I were reuniting with old friends… And I couldn’t help but enjoy the growing love matches between a couple of the characters. As Ocean Beach came to an end, I desperately wanted to see what would happen to the characters next.”
—Curl Up and Read
“I love Wendy Wax’s writing.”
—A Cozy Reader’s Corner Review
“Wendy Wax has done it again — written a captivating novel with some truly wonderful characters. Ms. Wax not only manages to flesh out her characters so well that by the time the book ends you will feel like these women are lifelong friends, but she also incorporates a heart wrenching mystery into the plot. Ocean Beach has the right blend of elements that make for a good read: endearing, strong women characters, intriguing male characters, credible dialogue, a little romance and a plot that will keep you interested to the last page… I couldn’t put it down.”
—Pudgy Penguin Perusals
“ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!…The owner of the house, Max, is the one who stole my heart in this book… these characters all have depth and their intertwining, yet individual stories really connected with me. It is filled with humor and grace… I hope that I can read more about these characters again since they really have a place in my heart.”
“Ocean Beach is a fun, light read… Wendy Wax is a talented writer.”
—S. Krishna’s Books
“There are secrets lurking that turn this summer (all-year round really) read into a romantic mystery that’s even more thrilling than the last novel… a great and must read!!! Wendy Wax is one very talented writer who knows how to craft a great story with complex characters, a great plot, and plug in just enough steamy romance to satisfy everyone. Finely done!!!”
—Crystal Book Reviews
“Ocean Beach by Wendy Wax is a perfect summer read!…after reading Ocean Beach I will say I’d love to read any and everything Wendy Wax has written! … a story about empowering women and home renovation… I loved this book! I just fell in love with all the characters, especially Max!”
—A Novel Review
“Wendy Wax is back and better than ever… a fine piece of work …descriptive, tender, wry, and warm in all the right places… [Wendy’s} words sparkle off the pages… I absolutely recommend this one…[it] has substance and genuine emotions… in content, style, and resonance, Wax brings her lovable characters to life.”
—Books à la Mode
“A truly enjoyable novel… the four characters in Ocean Beach are real, and really fun to read… winning characters and interesting conflicts… the setting couldn’t be more perfect for a summer read… Wax’s inclusion of the reality show slant makes Ocean Beach a timely, interesting novel we can all relate to in this entertainment climate… highly entertaining… ealistic female characters and a fun and engaging plot… Highly recommended.”
—A Worn Path
“This was the first book I read from Wendy Wax, and I was excited to tear into it… Max was such a sweet character, I loved how jovial he was and the love story that happened between him and his late wife Millie was so enchanting.”
—Chick Lit Plus
“I read and loved Ten Beach Road so I couldn’t wait to get back to the ladies and see what was going on in their lives… each woman’s story still captivated me and I found myself loving them all…it has a little bit of everything for the reader; friendship, love, secrets, mystery, and a few adorable characters that you might want to take home with you!!”
—Life in the Thumb
“Just when you think you have found the perfect beach read, bestselling author Wendy Wax pens another fabulous story and, if possible, it is even better. After reading TEN BEACH ROAD, readers became invested in these remarkable women… feeling their pain and reveling in their accomplishments… OCEAN BEACH draws us further into their lives and has readers shouting encouragement and pledging loyalty. I simply loved Max Golden; as a character he added an extra fascinating dimension to the story…. as soothing and turbulent as the ocean, offering shocking surprises and lovely treasures that will leave you sighing as you turn the last page.”
“This is definitely a worthy summer read…one with love, action, mystery and girlfriends. Make sure you pack it in your bag next time you head out!”
—You’ve Gotta Read This
“I liked it!… you’ll enjoy how it all plays out.”
—Good Girl Gone Redneck
“I really enjoyed Ocean Beach… The characters are just as endearing as they were the first time around and the challenges no less daunting… and I really loved that there was a mystery thrown into the mix…as you read you’ll definitely be transported to Miami’s South Beach and will wish that you were there too.”
—The Book Chick
“To us!” Steve Singer’s tone was jubilant as he raised his wineglass to Madeline and smiled across the cloth-draped table of Bacchanalia, one of Atlanta’s finest restaurants. “To twenty-six years as man and wife.”
Madeline clinked her glass to his and took a long sip. The flickering candlelight turned his gray eyes a metallic shade of silver and cast shadows across the planes and angles of his still handsome face. If she squinted just right she could almost see Steve as he’d been when they’d first met twenty-seven years ago. Then he’d been tall and trimly built, his manner reassuringly calm and certain. For a moment Madeline could almost feel the too rapid tattoo of her heart in her chest each time she saw him. And the delicious ache in her jaw that had come from hours of non-stop talk and laughter.
Today, they had crossed the great marital divide; she had now been married to Steve Singer longer than she’d been single. Madeline smiled and raised her glass for another clink. “Happy Anniversary,” she said. “To us!”
Steve watched her face as they drained their wineglasses and Maddie pressed ‘play’ on their joint highlight reel to search for a specifically fabulous memory to drink to.
She realized just how many great moments there’d been as she fast-forwarded through the years in her mind. She paused over the births of their children Kyra and Andrew, and all of the special moments that had filled her twenty plus years as a stay at home mom. Freeze frames of Steve’s achievements in the financial world followed along with the best of their family holidays and vacations.
Not that long ago she would have put their reel up against anyone’s. Maybe even nominated it for Best Movie and Screenplay. So much of their marital movie deserved applause.
But the last year and a half had been brutal. It had reframed an entire lifetime of memories.
Maddie drank the rest of her wine while the waiter combed the last offending crumbs from the tablecloth and retreated with a bow, promising to return shortly with coffee and dessert.
She tried the squinting thing again but couldn’t block out the image of Steve lying on the couch after he’d lost his job, their savings and, finally, his backbone.
Somehow they’d survived the nuclear blast that blew their lives apart. In many ways they still looked the same. All of their limbs remained intact. But inside, Maddie knew, their guts had been rearranged. She was afraid that crucial pieces might be missing.
Eyeing her empty wineglass, she almost smiled as the line, “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?” ran through her head.
Madeline blinked and dragged her gaze back to Steve. She looked directly into his eyes, which were the color of a stormy sky with clouds of what she recognized as hurt.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “What did you say?”
“I said, I have a job now. You don’t have to go to Miami and work like a slave on that house.” His tone was eminently rational. “The television series is a crap shoot—nothing may even come of it– and for such a big network they’re not even offering a living wage.”
This much was true. But if Madeline had learned anything during their personal nuclear meltdown, it was that it was better to act than be acted upon. If she hadn’t spent last summer in St. Petersburg with Avery and Nicole trying to bring the dilapidated Bella Flora back to life, they wouldn’t even have that potential asset. And she wouldn’t have this opportunity to do a television series with her daughter and the strangers who had become Madeline’s friends.
“Do Over is a big break for all of us and especially for Kyra,” Madeline said. “It was her documentation of our work at Bella Flora that made it happen and she deserves to reap whatever rewards come out of it.” She shook her head, still amazed at how completely their daughter, now a far too young single mother, had turned her life around.
Steve reached for her hand. “Then let Kyra go. She’ll shoot the video, Avery will run the construction, Avery’s mother can handle the interior design. Nicole will do whatever it is she does.” He smiled winningly. “I know how you like to mother everyone—and you’re really great at it– but they’ll survive without you.
Madeline stilled. “So you don’t think I add value?”
“I didn’t say that.”
No, he hadn’t. Not exactly. But that was the thing about being married longer than you’d been single. You no longer needed an interpreter for what had been left unsaid. She drew her hand back.
Not that long ago, when Andrew had left for college and their nest had first emptied, she’d dreamed of her own craft room and long periods of doing nothing, but she wasn’t that person anymore. Now all that nothingness just looked like… not quite enough.
“We’re married,” Steve said. “I love you and I want you here with me. Where you belong.”
“I love you, too,” she said. She did not need to replay their reel again to know that. “That’s not what this is about. I can’t just let Kyra go down to Miami and handle what could be the project of her life while she takes care of our six month old grandson by herself.”
Nor did she want to.
The chocolate mousse and coffees arrived. Steve stirred cream and sugar into his coffee and took an exploratory bite of the dessert.
“I thought you were okay with this,” Maddie said. He had helped her pack the mini-van for the drive down tomorrow and hadn’t said a word.
“They’re not paying you enough for this to make sense,” Steve continued, turning on the earnest charm that normally served him so well. “I have an income now, and I’m starting to build clientele again. If Bella Flora sells, we can erase pretty much all of our debt.”
He put down his spoon and reached for her hand once more. It was beginning to feel like the prize in a tug of war. “You’ve done enough, Maddie. I’m sorry you’ve had to do so much. But I know the worst is behind us. Or it will be if you let it.”
There it was. The subtext to everything that had and hadn’t been said. The thing they tiptoed so carefully around. Steve wanted to pretend that he hadn’t broken rank and run when their foxhole had been shelled. He hadn’t forgiven her for taking on the enemy, not really. And despite all the months of trying, she hadn’t completely forgiven him for forcing her to do it.
Maddie watched her husband eat the mousse and sip his coffee, but could no longer imagine swallowing either.
“I’m sorry,” she said as gently as she could. “But I’ve signed a contract with the network and I’ve given my word to Avery and Nicole. I know Kyra is counting on my help with the baby. But I am counting on you coming down to visit often.”
Because she knew that it would hurt him, she was careful not to give away how much she was looking forward to working on this project with her friends and her daughter. And that she hoped that Do Over would be exactly that for all of them.
1. During Madeline and Steve’s twenty- six- year wedding anniversary celebration, Madeline recalls how the past year and a half had been difficult and that “it had reframed an entire lifetime of memories.” Do you think that difficult moments in life can completely change how you remember the past? Are the difficulties something you work to forget or are they something that affects your future as well?
2. What do you think about Max and Millie’s relationship? How did the emotional prologue set the tone of the novel?
3. When Avery, Nicole, Kyra, and Deirdre arrive at Bella Flora to tape Do Over, they find themselves as part of a reality show instead of a show about a renovation. What are your opinions about reality shows? Do you think they have value in our society? Should those featured have the right to have “off- limits” areas?
4. Do you think Nicole made the right decision when she turned her brother in to Special Agent Joe Giraldi? Could you have done that? Do you think it was a conflict of interest that Joe romantically pursued Nicole after her brother went to jail?
5. How did you feel when Daniel Deranian was introduced? Do you feel like his feelings were genuine regarding Dustin and Kyra? Do you sympathize with Tonja at all?
6. Why did Deirdre ask Madeline to teach her how to be a real mother? Can someone be taught how to be a parent? How can one better prepare to become a parent?
7. Is there a correlation between renovating The Millicent and the characters’ personal lives? What role does Max’s character play in regard to their development?
8. Describe the changes in Avery and Deirdre’s relationship throughout the novel. Was the shooting the turning point or were there signs of change before that incident?
9. Prior to reading this novel, what did you know about cold case investigations? How long would you continue to search for someone you loved?
10. How did Aaron’s disappearance shape Max and Millie’s lives? How would their lives have been different if he had never disappeared?
11. Were you surprised when Steve said he wasn’t going to see his family after the shooting? What do you think his actual motivations were for not doing this? Was it because he never wanted Madeline to do the show to begin with?
12. When Aaron’s true identity was revealed, what was your reaction?
13. Imagine the lives of the characters after the novel. How do they unfold? Do Madeline and Steve stay married? Will Daniel come back into Kyra’s life? Do Avery and Deirdre continue to stay close? What happens with Nicole’s business?