Cartay Books (2022)
Reviewed by Sacha Fortune for Reader Views (06/2022)
“Wrightsville Beach” is a beautiful coming-of-age story of young love that falls victim to the trials of real life. From Hank’s tainted reputation he desperately wants to overcome, to Jess’ emotional rollercoaster of doubt and fear letting herself love and trust her heart, we feel every moment of their fraught relationship as it swells to the highest heights and then plummets to its darkest moments. One painful twist of fate rips them apart and they set off on their separate paths, though they each still love each other deeply and struggle to move on and open their hearts again.
I loved the winding tale of their lives as they each flourished in their careers, and I was so grateful to see Hank’s journey in particular, as he never believed in himself until Jess did. Her words set up shop in his soul, and he was able to convert that faith she had in him into faith in himself, sustaining a route to gain his education and start a profitable career. Jess also blossomed in her new environment after she moved away, gaining the experience she’d always dreamt of having with her research on turtles.
The details of the ecological research were expertly crafted into the story, and the care and attention that went into creating this part of the story was evident. The author also describes the atmosphere exquisitely: you can see the scenery of the beachy, close-knit community overrun with university students surfing and bike-riding, and you can almost smell the salt in the air and hear the roar of the ocean as she takes you from one scene to the next. I also really loved the plot aspects it explored beyond just the simple romance: Hank’s longstanding friendship with Mike, the mentorship he received from Mr. DeGaulle, and his relationship with his own father that flounders but finds its way back to the surface.
This was a lovely story I truly enjoyed. However, I did feel at times that the pacing was a bit slow, particularly when we read something from one character’s perspective and then right afterwards it is followed by the other character’s perspective (in just as much detail), which isn’t always needed. Reducing these parts would have made the pace swifter and reduced the overall word count to greater enhance and streamline this wonderful story.
Overall, this was a fantastic book to read as my first novel by this author. There is a lot to love here, and I really appreciated reading this type of romance with such a deep story that lies beneath. This will suit readers who like clean and/or slow-burn romances, particularly if they appreciate nature and love animals. I also really liked the fact that the author has dedicated this book to serve the preservation of these beautiful animals, and she provides excellent resources for others to participate. This book will touch many readers deeply, and I look forward to seeing more of her work.