Another great read by Jan Moran. I have read almost all of her books and none has disappointed me.
I must admit that when the synopsis said Ivy's husband blew their retirement money on a "beach house" I was thinking a "cottage". Boy, was I wrong! He bought a house that was designed by Julia Morgan who designed Randolph Hearst's Castle in San Simone CA. I doubt she designed anything "small".
This book is the perfect blend of mystery and romance in a spectacular setting with a tad of historical fiction thrown in. And an added bonus for those who have read her Love, California series, the main character from Sparkle (Book 6 in that series) makes an appearance. It's okay if you haven't read the series (although you should for their delightfulness), it isn't critical to this story.
The characters are believable and fun. Sisters Ivy and Shelly haven't had much luck with men; Ivy especially is reluctant to get involved again with any man. Her focus is on trying to get this house that has fallen into disrepair into shape to rent out rooms. With limited funds everything is a challenge for her. Ivy and Shelly draw upon their business skills to meet the challenge.
They also have the challenge of trying to be accepted into the small close-knit community of Summer Beach. Ivy's late husband antagonized everyone when he tried to have the house torn down and replaced by a high-rise building. Her ex especially crossed Bennett Dylan, the mayor of the little town - who just happens to be the guy Ivy had a major crush on the summer before she started college. Bennett is still recovering from the death of his wife so romance is the last thing on his mind.
Thrown into all this is a discovery that brings the FBI to town. Life isn't boring in this little seaside town.
I love how the women in Jan's stories are always intelligent and strong business women. At the core of all her books is a strong, close-knit family. The story evoked a wide range of emotions - frustration, anger, fear, jubilation, but most of all love.