On Ocean Boulevard
book review,  Books

On Ocean Boulevard by Mary Alice Monroe

Mary Alice Monroe returns to the shores of South Carolina, Primrose Cottage, and the Rutledge family in On Ocean Boulevard, the newest edition to her long-running The Beach House Series.

I received an advance copy of the book from Gallery Books via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.  All opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.

The Book

On Ocean Boulevard by Mary Alice MonroeOn Ocean Boulevard by Mary Alice Monroe
Series: The Beach House #6
Published by Simon and Schuster on May 19, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Women, Romance
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon
Buy from your local independent bookstore via Bookshop.org

The New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Guests returns at long last to her beloved Isle of Palms in this breathtaking novel about one family’s summer of forging new beginnings against the enduring beauty and resilience of the natural world.

It’s been sixteen years since Caretta “Cara” Rutledge has returned home to the beautiful shores of Charleston, South Carolina. Over those years, she has weathered the tides of deaths and births, struggles and joys. And now, as Cara prepares for her second wedding, her life is about to change yet again.

Meanwhile, the rest of the storied Rutledge family is also in flux. Cara’s niece Linnea returns to Sullivan’s Island to begin a new career and an unexpected relationship. Linnea’s parents, having survived bankruptcy, pin their hopes and futures on the construction of a new home on Ocean Boulevard. But as excitement over the house and wedding builds, a devastating illness strikes the family and brings plans to a screeching halt. It is under these trying circumstances that the Rutledge family must come together yet again to discover the enduring strength in love, tradition, and legacy from mother to daughter to granddaughter.

Like the sea turtles that come ashore annually on these windswept islands, three generations of the Rutledge family experience a season of return, rebirth, and growth.

“Authentic, generous, and heartfelt”
(Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author), On Ocean Boulevard is Mary Alice Monroe at her very best.


My Take

I have been a Mary Alice Monroe fan for a long time. Any new book in her Beach House series with the Rutledge family is like catching up with an old friend. (That said, you don’t need to have read the earlier books to jump into this story.)

On Ocean Boulevard is the latest installment in the series, and it didn’t disappoint. It is a fast-paced, easy read. As always, it leaves me longing for the beach. Monroe is lovingly descriptive with her setting, from the sound of the waves, the brilliant colors of the sunset, images of the beach houses lining the shore, to the specific smell of the Carolina marshes. She develops a lovely sense of place that will leave you longing for the feeling of sand between your toes.

Monroe’s writing is fluid. As this is the sixth book in the series, she doesn’t delve too deeply into the character’s backstories. (While the book works as a standalone, I think knowing the family history and all they’ve been through would add another layer.)

Like much of the stories involving various members of the Rutledge family, this one is about facing the roadblocks and curveballs life hands you and finding your place in the world. Linnea returns home with her life in two suitcases after the start-up she was working for folds. Her father Palmer has his own troubles with the house he is building, a work of both love and redemption. Her mother Julia has a chance to turn a passion into something more, having given up so much with the loss of their wealth. And Linnea’s aunt Cara is preparing to get remarried in a big wedding she didn’t want.

There is nothing big or flashy in the story, no jaw-dropping twists. However, that is not why I love any of the stories in this series. There are parallels between this story and the first in the series, when Cara returns to the beach cottage as her life faces a sea of change. Some are found with the fourth book, when Linnea herself moves to the beach house for the summer after college graduation to determine what she will do next.

The cottage and the beach is a place for growth and healing, a respite. This is a story about new beginnings, about family, and about personal growth. It’s also a bit of a love letter to the Isle of Palms and Charleston, South Carolina.

Her love of sea turtles is evident in how she works the turtle nests into the storyline and in the nuggets of information dropped at the beginning of chapters.

I am hopeful that the story will continue as want to know what is next for Linnea and Cara in particular, but I will say that it does feel like with On Ocean Boulevard, the story has come full circle.

Interested in other books in this series? Check out my reviews of books #4 and 5 in The Beach House Series.

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