Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Book Review: "A Stranger on the Beach" by Michele Campbell

In the profound words of Keanu Reeves, "Whoa." This book takes you on quite a ride!

With the completion of her incredible new beach house in the Hamptons, Caroline Stark finally has everything she wants—the lavish showplace of a home, a handsome and successful husband, the perfect family. Even if things aren't quite as storybook as they seem, she's come a long way from being raised by alcoholic parents and working her way through school to support her husband.

One night she sees a man on the beach near her house. He's young, handsome, and rough around the edges. But when her marriage literally falls apart during her housewarming party, and she discovers that all of her money is gone, suddenly this young man is what Caroline needs. Aidan is a local boy with a troubled past, and he offers her more than his shoulder to cry on. At first she thinks she can rely on him to help her solve the situation with her husband, but she quickly sees that he's a bit more unhinged than she realized.

Aidan doesn't quite realize that Caroline is manipulating him, for he has fallen head over heels in love with her. He knows they'll be together once her husband is out of the picture. And when Caroline tells him she needs his help, he knows he'll do anything for her, anything so they can live happily ever after, in that beautiful house on the beach.

In Michele Campbell's A Stranger on the Beach, you see the story unfold through both Aidan and Caroline's eyes, meaning you see some of the same events and situations interpreted in completely different ways. Who is manipulating whom? Is there an innocent victim amidst all of the scheming? And when someone winds up dead, who is to blame?

This book had so many twists and turns, I honestly didn't know how Campbell would tie everything up even as I raced toward the last page. You see such different interpretations of what happens and you have no idea what to believe. I didn't find either character particularly sympathetic, but I couldn't tear myself away, because I absolutely had to see what the outcome would be.

I love a book that keeps me guessing, but I'll admit the plot took so many hairpin turns that I got confused at least a few times. Still, this is one of the most compulsively readable books I've read in a while, and it will be the perfect book to devour while relaxing on the beach this summer. It's like Liane Moriarty crossed with the television show Revenge. This is a little bit soapy, a little bit campy, and a whole lot of crazy—it definitely will be a book everyone is talking about.

The rich may be different, but they're just as screwed up as we are, if not more! A Stranger on the Beach is the proof you need of that.

St. Martin's Press provided me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!

The book will be published July 23, 2019.

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