Advertising executive Cara Ruthledge is having a very bad day. Not only has she been laid off, she discovers that her co-worker boyfriend knew ahead of time and didn't warn her. When a letter arrives from her semi-estranged mother, Lovie, requesting that she come to South Carolina and visit, Cara decides to oblige.

Since her husband's death, Lovie Ruthledge moved down to their beach house on Isle of Palms. For decades she's been an active member of the "Turtle Ladies," who patrol the beaches and help protect the nests of Loggerhead turtles. Dying of cancer, this is Lovie's last summer with the turtles. Besides completing her work, Lovie hopes to reconnect with her daughter and son.

At first Cara is annoyed to discover a pregnant teenager named Toy Sooner living with Lovie, but upon the disclosure of her illness, Cara realizes the benefits. But there's pain, anger and bitter memories between Cara and her mom and trying to build a bridge will not be easy.

With each new book, Mary Alice Monroe continues to cement her growing reputation as an author of power and depth. THE BEACH HOUSE is filled with the agony of past mistakes, present pain and hope for a brighter future. (May, 416 pp., $6.50)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith