Shadows on the Sand, by Gayle Roper

Book CoverShe serves him breakfast at her café every morning … but he never seems to notice her.

Carrie Carter’s small café in Seaside, New Jersey, is populated with a motley crew of locals … although Carrie only has eyes for Greg Barnes. He’s recovering from a vicious crime that three years ago took the lives of his wife and children—and from the year he tried to drink his reality away. While her heart does a happy Snoopy dance at the sight of him, he never seems to notice her, to Carrie’s chagrin.

When Carrie’s dishwasher is killed and her young waitress disappears, Greg finds himself drawn into helping Carrie solve the mysteries … and into her life. But when Carrie’s own painful past becomes all to present, her carefully constructed world begins to sink.

Will the fragile relationship she’s built with Greg implode from the weight of the baggage they both carry?

This is the first of Gayle Roper’s Seaside books that I’ve read, even though there are four others set in Seaside, New Jersey. The good news is that I didn’t feel I was missing anything by not having them read them. The main plot is taken from the headlines of the past year; a polygamous cult with a shady leader is at the heart of the matter.

The plot itself is straightforward. There’s a murder and the locals are involved. There’s also a romance, which is formulaic so you know you’ll get a positive ending there. The problems lie in the excess of unnecessary detail. There’s a side story about Carrie’s family that could have been a separate book, extra characters appear to do nothing except eat at the café or run about in the background with their cell phones, and I found the characters’ use of social media to be overwhelming. Finally, the narrative also includes the suspect’s point of view that I found confusing because I didn’t know who it was and couldn’t see many clues to their identity included.

But as a light read, Shadows on the Sand is cute. Greg and Carrie both have a lot of baggage and they’re trying to make their way together despite that baggage. There isn’t a heavy Christian emphasis with preaching; the only Biblical references are about the famous “time for” verses from Ecclesiastes.

Publisher: Multnomah

Page Count: 320

Release Date: 19 July 2011

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I received my free copy of Shadows on the Sand from Waterbrook Multnomah’s Blogging For Books program in exchange for an honest review.

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