Monday, July 9, 2018

Book Review and Giveaway: Boardwalk Summer by Meredith Jaeger

Pages: 384
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: June 19, 2018
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewer
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "What happened on that long-ago summer? In this riveting novel from the author of The Dressmaker’s Dowry, an aspiring Hollywood actress makes a shocking choice in 1940, and seventy years later, a young mother sets out to discover what happened …  Summer, 1940: When Violet Harcourt is crowned Miss Bathing Beauty in her hometown of Santa Cruz, she’s determined to see herself on the silver screen. But Violet’s pageant victory comes with a price—cracks appear in her seemingly perfect marriage…and she quickly discovers Hollywood is not the glittering escape she dreamed of. So she makes a shocking choice, leaving her name in headlines and creating a mystery surrounding her fate.  Summer, 2007: Single mother Marisol Cruz lives in a charming seaside cottage that belonged to her grandfather, Ricardo, once a famed performer on the Beach Boardwalk. Drawn to the local history of her town, Mari discovers her grandfather’s connection to a beauty queen who died too young. She embarks on a journey that uncovers his lifelong secret—Ricardo’s connection to Violet…a story of tragedy and courage that will forever transform her."

It's 1940 and Violet Harcourt has entered the Miss California contest. Her ultimate goal is to become an actress in Hollywood. But there's one problem. You have to be single to be Miss California and well, she isn't.  She is married to Charles, a good looking and wealthy businessman who seems to be perfect, but underneath the facade is an abusive jerk.  Once he finds out that Violet is competing, he is going to make her pay.  Fast forward to 2007 and we meet Mari Cruz, a young single mother who works with the local museum in Santa Cruz. Officials want to tear down the town's historic gazebo, but it holds a special place in Mari's heart as it's part of her family's history.  When studying her family's history as well as the town's, she comes across information about her grandfather and his connection to a beauty queen, Violet Harcourt.  Violet made headlines when she died an untimely death in Santa Cruz.  How is her grandfather connected to Violet and what exactly happened to her? Boardwalk Summer by Meredith Jaeger has everything that I enjoy in a historical beach read.

When authors have two different storylines that they weave together, I oftentimes find myself drawn to one character over another and that was the case here in Boardwalk Summer. I found Violet's storyline to be way more compelling than Mari's.  Who doesn't love an Old Hollywood vibe and that was definitely present in Violet's plot.  Once things start to become clear regarding who Charles really is and what kind of husband he is, I was hooked. I wanted Violet to escape his clutches, but I knew it wasn't going to be easy.

Mari's storyline just wasn't as compelling, which is why I didn't give Boardwalk Summer a higher rating. It felt a little bit unbalanced.  You can't really complete with a budding Hollywood starlet can you? So, Mari was definitely in Violet's shadow. What I did want to know was how Mari's grandfather had a connection with Violet and what exactly happened to her?

I did like the coastal setting of Santa Cruz and I appreciated Mari's interest in the town's history as well as her family's history.  Santa Cruz seems like the quintessential California coastal town steeped in history and beauty.

Jaeger does weave togther the two storylines well and things do come together for the reader. While I didn't appreciate Mari's storyline as much as Violet's, I did like how she tied it all together. I think fans of historical beach reads will appreciate Boardwalk Summer the most.

Thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers and William Morrow, I am giving away my ARC to one lucky US reader. Please refer to my giveaway rules and good luck!

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  1. I liked this one, too, and like you I enjoyed the past storyline more than the present one.

    1. Yeah, I definitely think that storyline was more compelling...I mean you can't compete with a budding Hollywood starlet, right? Thanks for visiting, Angela.


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