Wednesday, July 15, 2020

A Walk Along the Beach, by Debbie Macomber

Ballantine Books, ISBN 9780399181368, July 2020

When her mother died, Willa Lakey, barely a teenager, she had to take over keeping house and raising her baby sister, Harper. Their brother, Lucas, enlisted in the army; their father fell apart and started drinking. 

Later, when Harper developed leukemia, Lucas came home to be as much help as possible, but their father fell apart even worse. 

Willa become the one who did all the worrying and all the caretaking.

When Harper has been recovered from her leukemia, and is three years into being a fitness trainer, the sisters are still living together in a two-bedroom apartment, and Willa has opened and is having some success with her coffee shop, Bean There. Willa is determined to have stability and safety; Harper has starting enjoying her new-found life with a variety of risk-taking adventures, including bungee-jumping and, most recently, a plan to summit Mount Ranier. She also dates frequently, though no guy lasts very long. Willa, in contrast, rarely dates at all. Then Harper tells Willa a new customer in the coffee shop, Sean O'Malley, is the man for Willa.
Willa is sure guys only have eyes for Harper, but Sean surprises her. He has his own reasons to be cautious, and it takes them a while before they manage their first date--a quiet walk on the beach.

But Sean is a freelance photographer, still building his reputation, and that means a lot of travel, sometimes on short notice, sometimes to places that aren't at all safe. That's a real challenge for Willa. Harper isn't wrong when she says Willa is excessively mothering, always trying to keep everyone she cares about safe, 

All three are going to face some major new challenges.

For Willa and Sean, that's going to be whether Willa can trust him with her heart, and whether Sean can find the right balance between his ambition and what he wants in his personal life.

This is a warm, loving story, with convincingly real characters who don't get everything they want in their happy endings. Nevertheless, there is a sizable helping of "happy ending" here. That remains true even if you don't count the rescue dog, Bandit, and the cute kitten, Snowball, both of whom do make its safely and happily to the end of the book.


I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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