Friday, August 28, 2020

Book Review: On Ocean Boulevard by Mary Alice Monroe

Pages: 381
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: May 19, 2020
Publisher: Gallery
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Beach House For Rent
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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."

Linnea returns home to Sullivan's Island with her tail between her legs. Not only is her relationship over, but her job that she relocated for is no longer.  Now she is returning home to live with her parents and start fresh. Things are going somewhat well for the Rutledge family. Cara, Linnea's aunt, is balancing the job of being a mother to a young child, working a full-time job at the aquarium, and planning a wedding.  Cue all the stress.  Then there's Linnea's parents who have relocated from their gorgeous Charleston house to their beach cottage full time, but their lives have been downsized tremendously both socially and square-footage wise.  Linnea tries to get her footing back at home and finds herself getting involved with the turtle ladies, just like her grandmother did, and meeting new people including a possible love interest.  However, the Rutledge family has many obstacles to conquer and serious issues on the horizon.  Fans of the Beach House series, as well as new readers, will love to jump right in to the family drama and naturalists will especially appreciate all the beautiful details in On Ocean Boulevard by Mary Alice Monroe.

Fans of the Beach House series will be familiar with the Rutledge family; however, you don't have to be an avid reader of the series to fully appreciate the family dynamics in On Ocean Boulevard.  Readers will appreciate this close-knit family and can relate to their ups and downs.  Cara is struggling with all that life is throwing her right now despite the fact that it's mostly good things. She's overextended due to the wedding planning, her daughter's needs, and her work requirements; plus, some of the issues with her friends who are like family to her are troubling.   What should be an amazing time in her life is causing more stress than not due to the fact that what she wants the wedding to look like is a lot different than what her fiancé wants.  Plus, where will they live one they are married? 

Linnea's journey is easily relatable in On Ocean Boulevard as she finds herself back at square one looking for a job, a social life, and finding out what she truly wants out of life.  She turns to the ocean and the turtles for some clarity and peace of mind.  While taking care of the turtles, she meets a new friend and through this friend, a possible love interest.  But things aren't always easy for Linnea. She is struggling to find a job in her highly saturated field; plus, she is worried about her mother who has given up all her hobbies and friends since moving to the beach.  Then there's her dad who holds her to a very high standard, but she worries about his drinking and his money issues.  

What I love the most about Mary Alice Monroe's novels is her descriptions of nature. They are really quite good and she brings the coastal setting of the Low Country to life like no other.  Readers can tell that she truly knows her wildlife, especially turtles. She brings important environmental causes like saving turtles, as well as the use of plastics and its impact on the ocean to the forefront in her novels and I love that.  

If you are looking for a beach read that includes family drama, but also breathtaking details about the natural world, look no further. I think Mary Alice Monroe is the best at what she does. 

Are you a fan of Mary Alice Monroe? Have you read her Beach House series? Let me know in the comments below. 


  1. I always enjoy books with family dramas, and I like the way the author incorporates great descriptions of the setting. It can really make a book come to life.

    1. She does a great job bringing to life the setting and the scenes in nature. It really did make the book come to life! Thanks for visiting, Angela!

  2. I haven’t read one for a while, but this sounds good. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

    1. Thanks for visiting, Shelley! I'm glad you like the sound of the book--perfect for the summertime!


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