Beach House No. 9
By Christie Ridgway
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Jane Pearson has been hired by Griffin Lowell’s agent to see that Lowell, a war correspondent, completes the memoir based on his year embedded with U. S. forces in Afghanistan. When the journalist ignores repeated phone calls from Jane, she decides to beard the recluse in his Crescent Cove beach house. Expecting a man who has withdrawn to brood, Jane is surprised to find Beach House No. 9 the setting for an on-going party where the booze is flowing freely, bikini-clad beauties abound, and Griffin Lowell is more interested in another bottle of beer and dangerous jumps off a cliff into the Pacific Ocean than in meeting a book deadline that is only weeks away.
Griffin Lowell has spent his time since his return from Afghanistan using alcohol and loud music and mindless card games to block out his memories and keep his emotions numbed. The last thing he wants is this prim librarian type with a bad-girl mouth nagging him about the book he can’t bring himself to write and awakening feelings he’s determined to keep contained. But every time Griffin thinks he has driven her off, she pops up again.
Jane is determined to succeed in her assignment to help Griffin Lowell meet his contractual obligations. After her professional relationship with bestselling author Ian Stone turned personal and ended with Jane betrayed and broken hearted, she owes it to herself and her career to prove she can succeed. Maybe then she can silence the voice of her scientist father echoing from her past, reminding her that she is an incompetent, emotional mess. But keeping one step ahead of Griffin’s efforts to get rid of her is no easy task, and convincing herself that lust is all she feels for the troubled Griffin proves even more difficult.
The conflict between Jane and Griffin is equal parts humor and poignancy. The reader is convinced that these two stubborn people burdened with baggage from their pasts belong together, and watching them reach this conclusion is fun. A strong cast of secondary characters gives the central story greater dimension. All the characters from a drama queen teen to a curmudgeonly Pulitzer Prize-winning neighbor to a wimpy kid grown into a hot firefighter add their own appeal. Hints about a connection between beach house landlady Skye and Griffin’s photojournalist, adrenaline junkie twin brother ensure interest in the series continues.
The subplot of Tess’s marriage in trouble rivals the main story for interest. It was this that kept the book a four-star read for me. At times I found myself more engaged with Tess and David’s story, more eager to know what had created the change in David, than I was in what was going on between Jane and Griffin.
If you’ve read Ridgway before, you won’t be surprised at the mix of heat and heart in this book. (There’s a storeroom scene that is a gem.) If you have never read Ridgway, Beach House No. 9 is an entertaining introduction. With the prequel novella, “Beach House Beginnings,” offered for free download at the usual outlets, and this first book to be quickly followed by Bungalow Nights (February 26) and The Love Shack (March 26), the Beach House No. 9 series is a great way to include some California sunshine with your particular winter mix.