Sabrina Kincaid detachedly serves Tucker McCabe breakfast daily at the Cobblestone Café in Nantucket, but the two spend evenings at a local online venue, connecting through aliases of “Sweetpea” and “Harbormaster.” Whereas real-life interactions have been cold and impersonal, communicating anonymously has allowed the two to become close. But neither has revealed who they really are, so once Tucker tries to find the person behind Sweetpea, their relationships --- both online and face-to-face --- take one wicked turn after another.
Tucker had tried to ask Sabrina to meet at the café several times before, but his attempts were met coolly and uncertainly, so it’s ironic that the two have spent their evenings together online anonymously for the past year. They’ve become as close as a couple can be who haven’t actually met, but how can you truly be close when you don’t know who the person is? That’s the kicker and the thing that Tucker would like to change. He finally wants to meet Sweetpea, so he attempts to generate contact by sending her a picture of himself and asking her to do the same. Unfortunately, that’s when his attempts fail as Sabrina recognizes their relationship can never be. Harbormaster is, of course, the Tucker she knows from the café, and though Sabrina wants to be with him, he’ll always be off limits. In order to throw him off, Sabrina sends him a picture of her cousin, Arielle. If Sabrina can get Tucker’s mind off this little fling, everything will be just fine.
But what she doesn’t know is, for Tucker, the relationship between Sweetpea and Harbormaster is no mere fling and not simply based on idle communication. He’s fallen hard for her, and he’s sure that Sweetpea is the one he wants. Tucker tells his family about her and decides that he’s going to find her whether she wants to be found or not. He learns through the grapevine that Sabrina also works as a research assistant, so he asks her to help locate Sweetpea through clues from their letters. It is a real job that Tucker is offering Sabrina, and she decides she has no choice but to take it or risk losing the relationship --- or, worse, having someone else actually find Sweetpea. The notion of facing Tucker as Sweetpea scares Sabrina enough to consent, even knowing that she’ll have to spend time with him every day.
Keeping her feelings secret is difficult, even more so because Sabrina is constantly misinterpreting signals from Tucker. Every day, Tucker’s hand seems to brush across hers, and he stays very close to her. It's an intoxicating thing for a mere mortal to have to resist. Being near Tucker is killing her, and Sabrina is terrified that she won’t be able to hide it. She reminds herself that Tucker’s interest is in Sweetpea, not her, and that she just needs to get the job done and he’ll give up. But Tucker doesn’t make it easy for Sabrina, and while attempting to resist a man who is irresistible, she must hide a number of things that Tucker knows about Sweetpea.
Since Sabrina’s fiancé cheated on her with her cousin (Arielle’s sister), Sabrina has remained aloof from her extended family. Going on her honeymoon by herself was what sent Sabrina to Nantucket in the first place, but Arielle is a decent person and wants the air cleared between them. So Arielle comes to Nantucket to surprise Sabrina, and plans to spend a whole month there. But Arielle’s arrival causes a major problem with the whole Sweetpea/Sabrina situation. “Oh what a tangled web we weave” takes on new meaning as Sabrina finds it impossible to keep Arielle hidden from Tucker. And Tucker must believe that Arielle is Sweetpea, because of the picture Sabrina sent him. But Sabrina is determined not to lose him, so both she and Arielle keep the charade going a while longer while the three try to figure out what to do (or not to do) about love.
As you might have guessed, SEASIDE LETTERS has a very convoluted storyline, and this is just the beginning --- it gets better and better and becomes increasingly difficult to figure out what will happen next. Out of guilt and insecurity, Sabrina creates for herself an impossible situation, and hiding the truth begins a nightmarish storm that could go on and on indefinitely. The more you read, the more it becomes feasible that things like this can and do happen. It’s comical and absolutely addicting to read about Sabrina and Tucker and what they’re willing to do to find and/or keep each other. The fact that they finally do and that they’re allowed to be happy is what makes SEASIDE LETTERS a worthwhile book. It’s a crazy ride but a lot of fun and a really entertaining story.
Reviewed by Melanie Smith on October 13, 2009