Thursday, May 9, 2024

Mini Reviews: Historical Beach Reads

I'm sharing two historical beach reads today that fans of the genre will most definitely enjoy. Both novels take place in Florida - one will satisfy readers who enjoy a bit of a mystery thrown in and the other captures 1960s Florida's glitz and glam very well.


The House on Biscayne Bay by Chanel Cleeton
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: April 2, 2024
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: When We Left Cuba,
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "With the Great War finally behind them, thousands of civilians and business moguls alike flock to South Florida with their sights set on making a fortune. When wealthy industrialist Robert Barnes and his wife, Anna, build Marbrisa, a glamorous estate on Biscayne Bay, they become the toast of the newly burgeoning society. Anna and Robert appear to have it all, but in a town like Miami, appearances can be deceiving, and one scandal can change everything.

Years later following the tragic death of her parents in Havana, Carmen Acosta journeys to Marbrisa, the grand home of her estranged older sister, Carolina, and her husband, Asher Wyatt. On the surface, the gilded estate looks like paradise, but Carmen quickly learns that nothing at Marbrisa is as it seems. The house has a treacherous legacy, and Carmen’s own life is soon in jeopardy . . . unless she can unravel the secrets buried beneath the mansion’s facade and stop history from repeating itself."


Anna Barnes' husband has built her a palatial mansion, Marbrisa, outside Miami and it's intended to rival all the new post-WWII development that is going on in Florida. It's opulent and a sight to behold. Anna isn't that excited about it though. She feels Florida is too hot, has scary insects, and an annoying social circle. Nonetheless, they threw a party when the house was done being built and it was a disaster as a woman ended up dead. As time goes by, Anna knows her husband is keeping secrets. Fast forward many years later and Carmen visits her sister's family at Marbrisa. Once she arrives at the estate, she notices her sister is acting strangely, the mansion is downright creepy, there's a detective that keeps popping up, and a spooky garden maze. This isn't what she expected and as time goes by she wonders what secrets lurk in this estate and wonders what her sister is keeping from her. Chanel Cleeton weaves these two storylines together beautifully in The House on Biscayne Bay with the estate as a major part of the story. If you enjoy some Gothic suspense, look no further!

At first, I must admit I had no idea how Cleeton was going to bring these two women's stories together, but slowly she did and quite well. Both women, despite their different backgrounds and time periods, they have a lot in common and both want to uncover the truth surrounding Marbrisa and their families. I really enjoyed how Cleeton merged the two stories. I also really loved the Gothic suspense elements as well as her depiction of Old World Florida- very atmospheric! The incorporation ofmurder mystery only added to my enjoyment as it kept me flipping the pagesThe House on Biscayne Bay is another hit from Chanel Cleeton and for fans of historical beach reads, this novel would be a great addition to your beach bag this summer.

The Beautiful People by Michelle Gable
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: April 16, 2024
Publisher: Graydon House
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: The Book of Summer,
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "It’s 1961, and for Margo Hightower, everything is about to change. True, her engagement is off, her family has fallen in scandal, and she's completely broke. But she’s just been hired as assistant to photographer Slim Aarons—famous for his vibrant pictures of high society, royalty, and Hollywood stars—and she knows this opportunity is her ticket to something better.

From the bright beaches of Acapulco to glitzy parties in New York, Margo is thrown headfirst into the glamorous jet-set world she so covets, observing its ways from behind the camera as Slim’s sidekick. There’s Jackie Kennedy, Truman Capote and his Swans, a host of Vanderbilts. Beautiful people in beautiful places.

But when they land in Palm Beach, a scene with few rules and many riches, the lines between work and play begin to blur. As Margo becomes swept up in the city’s social circle—and into a friendship with heiress and rising fashion designer Lilly Pulitzer—the golden life seems increasingly in reach. Until she finds herself entangled in a complicated web of loyalties and secrets that could bring it all crashing down…

Margo Hightower has to rebuild her life after things fell apart with he fiancé. It doesn't seem like a daunting task, but this is 1960s Florida, and Margo built her life around her upcoming marriage. Thankfully, she gets a job with Slim Aarons, the well known and talented photographer. He is known to take memorable photos of the socialites in Florida, which means he runs with their inner circle. Well, now Margo does too. As Margo tries to navigate this difficult new world, she befriends Lilly Pulitzer, the queen bee of Palm Beach. But this is Lilly before she becomes the world renowned fashion icon. This is Lilly, an heiress, but also someone who sells juice. Slowly Margo must carve out a new life for herself in Palm Beach if she can survive! The Beautiful People by Michelle Gable is a fun romp through the Jet Set culture of Palm Beach in the 1960s with many cameos from interesting people of the time like Jackie Kennedy and Truman Capote.

If you love historical beach reads that are light and will transport you to a different time, look no further. The Beautiful People was just the beach read I was looking for and I enjoyed learning more about not only Slim Aarons, but also Lilly Pulitzer. I had no idea Lilly started off selling juice and she didn't give me any preppy vibes at all, she seemed more free and bohemian than I imagined. It was interesting to learn how she came up with her prints and simple shift dresses and I thoroughly enjoyed all the different famous people that Margo and Lilly would run into in Palm Beach. While The Beautiful People wasn't my favorite of Gable's novels, it was most definitely an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon and I was rooting for Margo to find her way in this new-to-her world. If you enjoy Palm Royale on Apple TV, The Beautiful People pairs perfectly with the show! 


Have read either The House on Biscayne Bay or The Beautiful People? If not, are they are on your summer TBR list? Also, are you a fan of Chanel Cleeton and Michelle Gable? Let me know in the comments below.



  1. I think historical beach reads are my favorite type - and these both sound fantastic! Can't really go wrong with either author!

    1. Agreed! I think you'll both of these! Thanks for visiting, Angela!


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