Welcome to the TLC Book Tour for Ten Beach Road
Madeline “Maddie” Singer had no idea anything was amiss until that fateful morning when her mother-in-law suffered a mishap at her home and required medical attention. Steve, Maddie’s husband, an investment adviser, did not answer his cell phone so Maddie did something that she rarely did any more: She called his office. It was then she learned that Steve had not been employed for six months, even though he had been dressing and leaving the house every morning, pretending everything was normal and he was leaving for work. Where he had been going, what he had done all day for all those months . . . Maddie had no idea. All she knew was that she was furious and hurt by his betrayal and cowardice.
But things were about to get worse. Because when Steve finally had to confess that he was unemployed, he announced that he was also unemployable because he, like so many others, had been duped by Malcolm Dyer into investing not only his clients’ money, but his own money into now-worthless funds and other assets. Because Malcolm Dyer turned out to be a crook running a Bernie Madoff-like Ponzi scheme.
Deeply depressed, humiliated, and enabled by his doting mother — who has now moved in with the Singers — Steve takes to the couch. And remains there while Maddie tries to determine just how dire their circumstances are and whether or not they can hold onto their one remaining asset, their home.
But then Maddie learns that they have another asset. They own a one-third interest in a beachfront mansion in Pass-a-Grille, Florida. So while Steve lies on the couch feeling sorry for himself, Maddie decides to make a trip to Florida to inspect the property and, hopefully, list it for a quick sale that will generate enough proceeds to solve their financial problems.
Meanwhile, Avery Lawford, a petite, attractive, and very capable architect finds herself booted from the HGTV show, Hammer and Nail, she launched with her now-ex-husband, Trent. Long relegated to staring up into Trent’s handsome face while wearing tight sweaters, Avery’s on and off-camera life was already in disarray when she learns that she has also been swindled by Malcolm Dyer — except for that one-third interest in a Florida mansion she apparently owns.
Lastly, Nicole Grant is a wealthy and successful matchmaker with a long list of celebrity clients. Raised in abject poverty, Nicole and her younger brother never knew what it felt like to have a real, permanent home and feel secure. Nicole was more like a mother to her brother than was their own mother who was busy working two or three low-paying jobs and trying to pay the bills. When Nicole found success, she not only paid for her brother’s education, she bankrolled the start-up of his investment firm. Her brother’s needs always came first with Nicole which is why she is so devastated when she learns that she has lost everything she has worked so fervently for, with the exception of a one-third interest in a Florida property, as a result of the criminal malfeasance of her own brother — none other than Malcolm Dyer.
Ten Beach Road is the story of three women who meet under the most unimaginable and desperate circumstances. Each of them has traveled to Florida to inspect the so-called mansion in which they each hold a one-third interest and determine whether it can be quickly sold in order to generate some badly-needed income. Ten Beach Road is a novel about discovering, through adversity, exactly how strong you are. And it is a tale about what happens when you think you have hit rock bottom, only to learn that you can still find yourself sinking further down into hopelessness and despair.
The three women meet at Bella Flora, the name of the dilapidated, abandoned, but once-grand home. It was an architectural showplace in its day — but that day was long, long ago. Time has not been the property’s friend. When the local realtor first admits them for a viewing, they are shocked by the condition of the mansion. Chunks of the roof is missing and birds have taken up residence in some of the rooms, as have other creatures. The plumbing is a disaster, as are the heating and air conditioning units. The windows need to be reglazed, the floors stripped and resurfaced. There is old carpet in some rooms and the kitchen was last updated — with turquoise appliances and cabinet fronts — sometime in the 1970’s. The pool is empty and will require major renovations, as will the gardens and garages. The question of whether to bulldoze the home and sell the land for as high a price as it will fetch, as opposed to investing significant time, money, and labor in restoring the mansion to its former grandeur is plainly a metaphor for the condition of the three protagonists’ lives.
Avery is already divorced from Trent, but Maddie and Steve have — at least until this latest crisis — enjoyed a strong marriage that has lasted nearly twenty-five years. But Maddie cannot seem to reach Steve, who has withdrawn not just from her but from their life together. Their son, Andrew, has failed a couple of classes and lost his scholarship, and is incredulous when Maddie tells him that they simply do not have any money to give him for summer school classes. Their daughter, Kyra, a burgeoning filmmaker, has returned home suddenly after losing her job. Maddie is shocked when she learns the reason. But since Steve is no help, she asks Kyra to join her in Florida. Camera in hand, Kyra is quickly embraced by the other women and begins documenting on film the transformation not only of Bella Flora, but also their lives — individually and collectively.
Nicole knows that if anyone finds out she is Malcolm Dyer’s sister, they will assume that she is also his accomplice. FBI agent Joe Gilardi seems to be everywhere Nicole turns, including inside Bella Flora, posing as a cable television installer, furniture mover, and general handyman, as he patiently waits to see if Malcolm will contact his sister. And if she will turn him over to the authorities if he does.
Avery is doing battle with her own demons, among them her mother, Deidre, who abandoned her when she was just a young girl in favor of a life spent as an interior decorator in Hollywood. Chase Hardin is the contractor who agrees to help the women bring Bella Flora back to life in exchange for a percentage of the profits from the eventual sale. His father and Avery’s father were partners, and Avery and Chase have known each other their whole lives. Now widowed with two teen-aged sons, Chase makes no secret of his disdain for Trent and disappointment about the manner in which Avery allowed herself to be belittled and marginalized on national television. Kyra documents their Rock Hudson-Doris Day brand of arguments and uploads them to You Tube, with some very surprising results.
Ultimately, each of the five female characters is forced, through her experiences at Bella Flora and the relationship she develops with the other women, to come to terms with her past, as well as her own strengths and weaknesses, in order to survive their present financial straits and plan for the future. Each of them must confront the persons and events from which they have been running, and either choose to forgive or move on sans regrets. Each of them will learn, through the process of renovating the old mansion and forging a partnership with each other, that when it seems they have tapped their last reserve of strength and resilience, they have really only scratched the surface because their determination and will to succeed are both boundless.
Author Wendy Wax has crafted a story that is timely. Both the faltering economy and investment swindle which sets the action into motion are straight off the front page and have touched the lives of each of her readers in varying degrees. Her female characters are highly empathetic and relatable as they struggle to adjust to their “new normal” while mourning the lives they built for themselves and thought would never come crashing down around them. The manner in which they become find common ground and become friends is believable and plausible, especially with so many humorous moments included. Ultimately, the women become people readers will care about and want to see succeed. The themes Wax explores are neither unique nor particularly revelatory, but Ten Beach Road is an engrossing and entertaining story of how three women survive the biggest challenge of their lives and emerge stronger and wiser, “buoyed by a friendship they’d never expected on a journey they hadn’t meant to take.”
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one copy of Ten Beach Road free of charge from the author in conjunction with the TLC Book Tours review and virtual book tour program. 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. This disclosure complies with 16 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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The comment posted by Felecia was selected at random and a copy of Ten Beach Road is en route to her!