Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Review: Message in the Sand by Hannah McKinnon

Message in the Sand
by Hannah McKinnon

Publisher: Atria
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Wendell Combs is as local as they come. Born and raised in the small town of Saybrook, Connecticut, his venture into the larger world was met with heartbreak. Now, middle-aged and a confirmed bachelor, he seeks solitude from his tour of duty as a soldier back in his hometown, working as head caretaker for wealthy Alan Lancaster’s forty-acre estate, White Pines, a place he has come to love for its beauty, peace, and quiet.

Alan’s eldest daughter, fifteen-year-old Julia, also loves White Pines, but for very different reasons. She and her little sister spend their days riding horses, swimming in the lake, and painting landscapes inspired by the property they adore. While her parents prepare to host their annual summer gala fundraiser, Julia’s eyes are set to the simpler joys of summer: she’s fallen in love with the boy-next-door and longs for their next encounter.

But as the last guests leave on that magical summer night, a tragedy no one could have predicted suddenly occurs, shaking the entire town to its core. Wendell and Julianow face an uncertain future. At the height of their grief, two very different women return to Saybrook: Ginny Foster, Wendell’s first love, who cannot stay away any longer, and Candace Lancaster, Julia’s estranged aunt who wants nothing to do with the town or the family estate she escaped decades earlier. Now, the only familiar things Julia has to cling to are Wendell and White Pines, but it looks like she’s about to lose both...

Kritters Thoughts:  A little mystery and a little women's fiction rolled into one book where a cast of characters takes turn to share the story from their own points of view.  The book starts with Wendell Combs who moved back to a small town in Connecticut after a stint with the National Guard that took him overseas and changed his life and now he is a caretaker on a property where he finds joy in taking care of the land and the animals for a living.  The eldest daughter of the property owner is fifteen-year-old Julia and she is dabbling with her first love when a tragic night changes everything for them and others.  

First, I am so thankful that in the synopsis the tragic event isn't spoiled, so I won't spoil it here, but man did I not see it coming and it is the catalyst for the entire novel, so I will try hard to talk about the book without divulging the big plot moment!  

Other than Wendell and Julia, there is a judge who also narrates a few chapters and I was so thankful the author provided her perspective as she gave color to a big piece of the plot and the ins and outs of family court.  Ginny Foster was another character who had a moment in the limelight and as Wendell's first love, she returns to this town for reasons of her own and she brought great romance and heart to the book.  And Candace Lancaster who I just can't share as it would spoil so many things, she was a great anthesis to a lot of things and although a possible villain, I think the author humanized her very well.    

I am a fan of Hannah McKinnon and love how she creates this great books with full characters and plots that are perfect reading for the summer, but honestly any time of the year!

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Atria books.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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