After she discovers her sister Tanya dead on the floor of her fashionable New York City townhouse, Letty Carnahan is certain she knows who did it: Tanya’s ex; sleazy real estate entrepreneur Evan Wingfield. Even in the grip of grief and panic Letty heeds her late sister’s warnings: “If anything bad happens to me—it’s Evan. Promise me you’ll take Maya and run. Promise me.”
With a trunkful of emotional baggage…
So Letty grabs her sister’s Mercedes and hits the road with her wailing four-year-old niece Maya. Letty is determined to out-run Evan and the law, but run to where? Tanya, a woman with a past shrouded in secrets, left behind a “go-bag” of cash and a big honking diamond ring—but only one clue: a faded magazine story about a sleepy mom-and-pop motel in a Florida beach town with the improbable name of Treasure Island. She sheds her old life and checks into an uncertain future at The Murmuring Surf Motel.
The No Vacancy sign is flashing & the sharks are circling…
And that’s the good news. Because The Surf, as the regulars call it, is the winter home of a close-knit flock of retirees and snowbirds who regard this odd-duck newcomer with suspicion and down-right hostility. As Letty settles into the motel’s former storage room, she tries to heal Maya’s heartache and unravel the key to her sister’s shady past, all while dodging the attention of the owner’s dangerously attractive son Joe, who just happens to be a local police detective. Can Letty find romance as well as a room at the inn—or will Joe betray her secrets and put her behind bars? With danger closing in, it’s a race to find the truth and right the wrongs of the past.
I’m kind of on the fence about this novel. I almost DNFed at about 15% but decided to continue on. The cover makes it look like a rom com, but it’s definitely not. The “romance” is lackluster at best, and there was never much question of who actually murdered Tanya—who was a pretty horrible person herself. The retirees at the motel are almost universally cranky busybodies with nothing to set them apart from each other, and Letty basically lets life happen to her instead of taking action herself. Perhaps this was just a case of the book not being a good fit for me, but I’d say it’s solidly so-so.
Mary Kay Andres is a bestselling author. The Newcomer is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)