In five run-down cottages on a Florida barrier island called Happiness Key, five women have formed unlikely but sincere friendships. Tracy Deloche owns the property where she lives with Wanda, Wanda's daughter Maggie, Alice and her granddaughter, and Jayna and her husband. Though all are from different places and at different stages in life, the connection they share keeps them sane, makes them happy, and even saves their lives. In SUNSET BRIDGE, the third Happiness Key novel by Emilie Richards, the ladies will rely on that connection to help them through upheaval, guide them through changes, and weather storms both literal and figurative.
A meaty and fun read, SUNSET BRIDGE will please all kinds of readers this summer with its solid storytelling and charming group of friends.
Though Tracy and her boyfriend, the charming lawyer Marsh Egan, have only been a couple for a short while, Tracy is in love and, despite some big differences between them, is excited to see where their relationship will go. But when she discovers she's pregnant, anxieties about the new partnership as well as the wariness she cultivated after her divorce rise to the surface. She pushes Marsh away, and against the advice of her good friends on Happiness Key, she doesn't tell him right away that he's going to be a father.
As Tracy comes to terms with motherhood, Alice is struggling to act as a mother to her adolescent granddaughter, Olivia. As Alice's health fails, Olivia turns increasingly to Tracy for support and understanding. But Alice just may have enough energy for a surprising relationship of her own.
Wanda and Maggie, another mother-daughter duo, are working to overcome their fundamental differences, but it's not easy. Still, as Maggie works with her mother in Wanda's pie shop and tries to pick up the pieces of her ruined career and failed relationship with the dashing Felo, Wanda is wooed by a movie star with down-home tastes and big business dreams.
While Maggie's tale is fraught with intrigue and violence, the survivors of the worst of it come into the care of the maternal but childless Jayna Kapur. When local couple Kanira and Harit Dutta are found dead in a seedy motel, Jayna and her husband Rishi are left with their young children, Vijay and Lily. Though they have been longing for kids, the Kapurs never wanted to start their family through this kind of tragedy. But with the help of Maggie, who still has connections to the police force she used to work for, Jayna plans not only to get to the bottom of the crime but to create a loving and safe home for the Dutta children.
Just when readers think things couldn't get dicier for the folks of Happiness Key, in blows a hurricane that could destroy more than just the cozy homes of the Key.
In Richards's capable hands, all the story lines neatly intersect and all the drama seems totally plausible. SUNSET BRIDGE is full of action, introspection, suspense and dynamic relationships, but it is never chaotic or busy. The plots intersect enough to make the story feel cohesive. Weighing in on subjects such as friendship, partnership, aging, ambition and motherhood, the characters seem real and likable despite --- or perhaps because of --- their foibles.
There is a reason why Emilie Richards is a bestselling author and why the Happiness Keys books are so popular. In her latest, these reasons are once again demonstrated with compelling characters put in unexpected situations. A meaty and fun read, SUNSET BRIDGE will please all kinds of readers this summer with its solid storytelling and charming group of friends.
Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on July 4, 2011