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Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams
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Cocoa Beach

by Beatriz Williams

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Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
This is a solid pick... just when I thought it was getting a little too convoluted and twisty, things starting to click in to place with the mystery. Not the best writing, but a good story and engaging characters. I am a total sucker for historical fiction and the settings (time and place) are very well done. I really liked the narrators, too! ( )
  sprainedbrain | Aug 12, 2018 |
Virginia Fortescue bravely maneuvered her Red Cross ambulance through artillery fire and nighttime rescues during World War I. While transporting patients, Virginia meets British army surgeon, Captain Simon Fitzwilliam. Virginia is enchanted, but hears rumors that he is already married. However, Captain Fitzwilliam is enchanted and promises Virginia a divorce from the wife he was forced to marry for family money. The two are married in secret, but Virginia hears of more devastating rumors about her husband and decided to return to her father's home after the War. Virginia soon gives birth to a wonderful baby daughter, Evelyn and continues to receive letters from Simon who is renovating a family orchard and running a shipping company in Cocoa Beach, Florida. It isn't until a letter arrives that informs Virginia of Simon's death that she travels to Cocoa Beach to take over the business that she discovers the true nature of the lies and deceptions of the Fitzwilliam family.

Cocoa Beach proved to be irresistible as soon as I dug in; combining the elements of danger in the prohibition age with romance and a menacing mystery. I have read Beatriz Williams' other books with some of the same characters, including Virginia and was glad to pick up her story again. While I loved The Wicked City and A Certain Age, it is not necessary to read those first. Virginia enters the scene in Cocoa Beach like a fighter; as a woman in 1922 and now a widow, Simon's lawyer figures she will be uninterested in the business that Simon carried out. Virginia makes it known that "...my wishes are your business now..." and I knew that Virginia would be a formidable character. I enjoyed that the writing switched back and forth between Virginia and Simon's time during World War I and 1922 in Cocoa Beach. Through these scenes I was able to know Virginia as a hero and an independent woman, I was also able to form an opinion about Simon. I was amazed at Virginia's fortitude as an ambulance driver and appreciated the compassionate love story despite the many times others attempted to derail it. The mystery is written with many layers and twists, I thought I knew where it was heading, and yet other elements kept getting thrown in for surprise after surprise. I was also pleased to see that the story will most likely continue as there is a cliffhanger at the end.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. ( )
  Mishker | May 25, 2018 |
Ms. Williams’s book, A Certain Age tells the tale of Sophie Fortescue. Cocoa Beach is, no pun intended, the sister book as it shares Virginia Fortescue’s story. These two young women are very different and so are the books that describe them. Virginia has gone to war to drive ambulances for the American Red Cross. While doing that she meets Simon Fitzwilliam – a British doctor – and they slowly develop a relationship that ends in marriage. But for whatever reason Virginia leaves England alone without telling Simon she is pregnant.

She settles back in NY and rears her daughter, Evelyn while dealing with some extreme family drama. Upon the completion of a trial she learns that Simon is dead and that he’s left his estate to her. To sort it all out and perhaps for a change of scenery Virginia and Evelyn head to Florida to learn what they can about Simon’s death and about the business he left behind.

While in Florida she encounters her brother in law and sister in law but she is not sure whom she can trust. She learns from a Revenue Agent that Simon was helping to fight a local gang and that might have contributed to his death. The more she learns, the more confused she becomes.

The book toggles back and forth in time and place between Virginia’s adventures in France and England during the War and her present day life as she goes to Florida in search of answers. The chapters written in Europe were tighter, cleaner and much more clear. The chapters in Florida were not as clear. In fact, like the feeling Virginia has when she is concussed, they are rather confused. In my opinion the ending could have been achieved without some of the sturm und drang. Virginia spent a little too much time in her head. But that is me – others might feel differently.

I did read the book in one sitting and there were a couple of big twists and turns that kept the story very interesting. One is a real whopper. It almost made up for the extended trip to the plantation. Virginia is a very conflicting character seemingly strong but then weak as a kitten but when necessary she pulls it all together. It confused me as a reader. The other characters were defined and not so changeable. What the book comes down to ultimately is love and trust and the impacts of these on family dynamics. ( )
  BrokenTeepee | May 23, 2018 |
When I was small, I dreamed up whole worlds, frequently retreating to my bedroom to talk to myself and the characters I created, advancing their stories or changing them to suit my mood. It's been a long time since I did that and I certainly never did it with any kind of thoroughness or maturity. Author Beatriz Williams is still creating worlds and revisiting them but she isn't doing it in the privacy of her room; she's sharing these people and their world with all of us in her novels. Many of her books are interconnected although they aren't properly sequels to each other. Her characters do range in and out of books about each other so reading more than one will give you insider information that enriches the reading experience though. Her latest novel, Cocoa Beach, is definitely a companion novel to A Certain Age and has strong connections to Wicked City as well.

Virginia Fortescue Fitzwilliam leaves New York with her two year old daughter Evelyn after the very public trial and conviction of her father for her mother's long ago murder. As if the one tragedy wasn't enough for this young woman to endure, she must go down to Cocoa Beach, Florida in order to look into and wrap up her estranged late husband's estate. Her husband Simon has perished in a house fire leaving behind a thriving business, a shipping company, an orange plantation, and a hotel. When she gets to Florida though, things are not as straightforward as might be expected and Virginia finds herself uncertain who she can trust.

The novel flips back and forth between 1917 and 1922. In the former, Virginia tells the story of her meeting and romance with Simon in France in the midst of WWI. She's an intrepid American ambulance driver while he's a handsome Cornish surgeon with a complicated background. In the latter story line, Virginia is in Florida with Simon's twin brother Samuel and his sister Clara and perhaps getting too close to dangerous things that she clearly doesn't understand. Her feelings about her husband's character have undergone a complete turnaround from 1917 and 1922 and the reasons why are liberally teased throughout the length of the novel. But she cannot completely let his memory go, not least because their daughter Eleanor is the love of her life. In fact, she feels betrayed by both her father and her husband, something that makes her question her own judgment. After some of the 1922 chapters are letters written from Simon to Virginia during their almost three year estrangement, giving the reader information about his perspective on their marriage and his character that Virginia, not having read the letters, doesn't have.

The lush surroundings of a Florida just starting to be developed cease to be a tropical escape, instead feeling increasingly oppressive and scary as the tension rises throughout the novel. In the end the book almost becomes a thriller, starting to gallop along at such a pace. There are bootleggers, a shadowy revenue agent, toxic family secrets, illegitimate children, murder, a villain pulling strings, romance, life threatening danger, the question of who wanted Simon dead, and manipulations galore in this soap opera of a historical novel. Virginia is suspicious and occasionally strong and decisive but her defining characteristic is the love she has for her beloved daughter. Protecting Eleanor and being there for her always so that her baby doesn't know the pain of growing up without a mother, as she did, is the driving force in her life and it will be the thing that prompts her to not just survive but to find the strength to overcome as she uncovers all the answers she seeks. The final revelation of truth comes rather late in the story and the ending is ultimately left wide open for another book set in this same fictional Prohibition world. In fact, the end of the novel is where it might be more than a little handy to have read Williams' other books mentioned above. Williams does a good job of keeping the reader guessing about Simon's character, giving a tiny bit of proof that he is not all he seems when Virginia is head over heels with him but then countering that doubt just enough to make the reader question Virginia's change of heart. Was she right about him in 1917 or is she right about him in 1922? I liked the other books in this (loose) series a bit better but this was still well researched, pulse pounding historical fiction. ( )
  whitreidtan | May 18, 2018 |
Thanks to Goodreads and Wm. Morrow books.

I love Beatriz Williams' books but this one left me a little disappointed for some reason. The plot was good, the characters good, the mystery good. ( )
  sweetbabyjane58 | May 15, 2018 |
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Burdened by a dark family secret, Virginia Fortescue flees her oppressive home in New York City for the battlefields of World War I France. Driving an ambulance for the Red Cross, she meets a charismatic British army surgeon whose persistent charm opens her heart to the possibility of love. As the war rages, Virginia falls into a passionate affair with the dashing Captain Simon Fitzwilliam, only to discover that his past has its own dark secrets--secrets that will damage their eventual marriage and propel her back across the Atlantic to the sister and father she'd left behind. Five years later, in the early days of Prohibition, the newly widowed Virginia Fitzwilliam arrives in the tropical boomtown of Cocoa Beach, Florida, to settle her husband's estate. Simon's brother and sister welcome her with open arms and introduce her to a dazzling new world of citrus groves, white beaches, bootleggers, and Prohibition agents. But Virginia senses a predatory presence lurking beneath the irresistible, hedonistic surface of this coastal oasis. The more she learns about Simon and his mysterious business interests, the more she fears that the dangers surrounding Simon now threaten her and their daughter's life as well.… (more)

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