Sunday, May 8, 2011

REVIEW: Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax


Madeline, Avery, and Nikki are strangers to each other, but they have one thing in common. They each wake up one morning to discover their life savings have vanished, along with their trusted financial manager- leaving them with nothing but co-ownership of a ramshackle beachfront house. 

Throwing their lots in together, they take on the challenge of restoring the historic property. But just as they begin to reinvent themselves and discover the power of friendship, secrets threaten to tear down their trust-and destroy their lives a second time.

Pub. Date: May 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Format: Paperback , 432pp
ISBN-13: 9780425240861
ISBN: 042524086X

About the Author
from her own bio

All of my class pictures from Sunshine Elementary School are displayed at the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum on Pass-a-Grille,” says Wendy Wax, speaking about her childhood in St. Pete Beach, Florida. “Fish Broil was the big event every fall and the best days were when we had recess or art class on the beach, but what I remember best is running loose with my friends and exploring every inch of the beach we called our own. Is it any surprise it’s still one of my favorite places in the world? Or that it ended up as the setting in one of my books? It was bound to happen someday.”

Someday came when Wendy began reading about how the lives of so many people, from so many different walks of life, changed dramatically as a result of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. It wasn’t long before she was imagining a scenario in which three women face bankruptcy at the hands of an unscrupulous money manager. At the end of the day, these three strangers discover that all that’s left of their savings is shared ownership of a once-glorious beachfront mansion. They’re faced with a choice. They can cut their losses and sell for whatever amount of money they can get, or—in a bid for solvency—accept the backing of a local contractor in order to restore the historic property themselves, bit-by-backbreaking bit.

The basics of her plot and the themes Wendy imagined—women facing adversity, making choices, redefining themselves and discovering the strength of friendship—gave her a wide range of possible settings for TEN BEACH ROAD. When it came time to embrace ambiance, architectural styles, and local color, she chose a place she knows well, her hometown of St. Pete Beach. It was right for so many reasons. Its tropical climate, dual cultures of vacationers and residents, and even the current real estate market fit her story well, and presented challenges her characters might not have faced elsewhere. Of course, it also gave Wendy an opportunity to indulge in researching the Mediterranean-Revival architectural style she so admires and the history of the area, as well as to share her pleasure in magnificent Gulf sunsets and some of her favorite spots in Historic Pass-a-Grille.

Among her fondest memories are visits to her local library. Wendy read voraciously as a child, becoming fast friends with Nancy Drew and Anne of Green Gables. Her love affairs with language and storytelling paid off beginning with her first shift at the campus radio station while studying journalism at the University of Georgia.

Wendy returned home, graduated from the University of South Florida and then worked for the Tampa PBS affiliate, WEDU-TV, behind and in front of the camera. Her resume includes on air work, voiceovers and production work on a variety of commercial projects and several feature films. She was best-known in the Tampa Bay area as the host of Desperate & Dateless, a radio matchmaking program that aired on WDAE radio, and nationally as host of The Home Front, a magazine format show that aired on PBS affiliates across the country.

The mother of a toddler and an infant when she decided to change careers, Wendy admits it may not have been the best timing in terms of productivity. “I’m still not certain why I felt so compelled to write my first novel at that particular time,” she says, “but that first book took forever.” Since then she’s written six others, including Magnolia Wednesdays, the Romance Writers of America RITA Award finalist The Accidental Bestseller and Single in Suburbia. Her novel 7 Days and 7 Nights was honored with the Virginia Romance Writers Holt Medallion Award. Her work has been sold to publishers in ten countries and to the Rhapsody Book Club, and her novel, Hostile Makeover, was excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine.

Wendy lives in Atlanta, which she has called home for 14 years. A former broadcaster, she spends much of her non-writing time speaking to writer’s groups and book clubs, enjoying time with her husband and sons, and visiting her family in St. Pete. She continues to devour books.

Find out more from her website.

My Thoughts

Three women from very different backgrounds find themselves thrown into a common situation after they all become victims of a Ponzi scheme and lose everything, except for a single rundown beach house in south Florida of which they learn they are co-owners. Knowing this is their only shot to survive, they work together to renovate Bella Flora and get her ready for the market.


This story takes place in Pass-a-Grille, FL, a little north of Tampa (and therefore just a couple of hours north of me!) A Mediterranean Revival-style home located on the beach in a small town, and I imagine it looked a lot like this...

I liked this book. It was a simple story- there weren’t any great mysteries to keep me on my toes- but the characters were relatable, with interspersed moments of emotion and levity.

There is something for everyone to identify with in this book: painful childhoods, the trials of motherhood and marriage, loss, heartbreak, sexual tension that expresses itself in a combative nature, economics, strained family ties, and on and on.

This book is written in an easy-to-read style. There’s no need to interpret the meaning of things, no symbolism to unravel. It simply gets to the heart of the matter.

I didn’t really identify too much with any woman individually. However each of the women are a piece of me. Atleast each of the main characters, Maddie, Nichole and Avery. I could identify with Maddie’s nurturing, maternal side, with Nichole’s tough exterior, with Avery’s strong will. These were women that I could like and spend time with (and, in fact, did spend time with through the course of this story). If I had to pick one that I identified most with, it would probably be Nichole. She’s a little more spoiled and more used to the good things in life than me, but the way she presents a tough exterior to the world that masks a softer side that is trying to do the right thing is something that I can relate to, as well as identifying with living in poverty as a child (although my mother was very good at hiding the fact that we were living below the poverty level. She’s one of those people that CAN squeeze blood from a turnip, and would get everything possible out of nickel, and then some!).

Content Rating: There was some occasional vulgarity, but it was far and few between. Mild sexuality. I’d give it a strictly PG-13 rating.

My final word: The only real "negative" that I have (which wasn't significant enough to really be a negative) is that while I enjoyed the story, I found the ending slightly less than satisfying. I can’t get into “why” without involving spoilers, but suffice to say that the ending was “okay”, but not totally fulfilling for me.

If you like stories of small towns, friendship, family and trials and tribulations (or if you like the works of  Karen White), give this one a try. This was my first experience with author Wendy Wax, and I would be happy to give another of her works a shot in the future. It's a solid story, and a fine read!

My Rating: 7.5 out of 10


I received a copy of this book to review through Joan Schulhafer Publishing & Media Consulting, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof.

1 comment:

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I have not yet read any books by Wendy Wax but I do think she is an author I would enjoy. This sounds like the perfect beach read for this summer. I will have to put it on my summer list. Thanks for the great review.