Monarch Beach by Anita Hughes

Monarch Beach by Anita Hughes is one of those beach reads that barely scratches the surface about what divorce can do to a family, especially when one spouse cheats on the other and more than once.  To Amanda Blick’s credit she doesn’t go postal and take out her husband’s (Andre) French fondue restaurant in Ross, an exclusive, elite neighborhood, and she doesn’t have a nervous breakdown.  Rather, Blick takers their son, Max, out of the San Francisco area to St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort with her mother, Grace, who promises to quit smoking if they come stay with her for the summer in the Presidential Suite.

Pretty posh lifestyle, but nothing less can be expected from the offspring of a society family, whose friends used to call her parents’ home The Palace.  The relationship between Andre and Amanda is rushed, but that’s to be expected as she meets him just after graduating undergrad following a family tragedy.  When Andre’s restaurant partnership sours, he doesn’t turn to his mother-in-law or his wife for help, but a busty former high school classmate of Amanda’s and her husband Glenn.

Clearly blinded by lust or love, Amanda rushes headlong into a marriage and finds contentment with being a mother and wife, as her dream of becoming a fashion designer fades into the rearview.  But her world crumbles around her when she finds the chef’s legs wrapped around her partially naked husband in the restaurant one afternoon.  She’s forced to make a decision or have a meltdown.

“I pulled into the parking lot at the post office, threw my purse under the seat, and started walking.  I was still in my yoga clothes, so I looked like any other mother going for a morning hike.  I left the parking lot and took long strides till I reached the lake, a walk that usually took me half an hour.  That Tuesday I made it in sixteen minutes.  I sat on a bench watching the ducks and took deep breaths.  It was a beautiful spring day.  The sun was warm, the sky a pale blue, and beds of purple and white daisies surrounded the lake.”  (Page 2)

Hughes creates a woman who copes with heartbreak in the only way she knows: she asks her mother’s advice.  Amanda waffles, she indulges, she cries, and she wallows over the summer, and by turns she’s at the beach, eating, or at the bar, but most of all she’s spending time with her son and her mother, the people she cares most about.  Many readers will envy her lifestyle and wonder what she has to complain about, but upon further reflection, readers will find that heartbreak can transcend classes.

Monarch Beach by Anita Hughes is beach read that will take most readers’ minds off their troubles.  A satisfying peak into the life of the elite, even when heartbreak is the order of the day.  The ending is a bit open-ended, which could leave readers wondering if there is a sequel in the works.

About the Author:

ANITA HUGHES attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing Program, and has taught Creative Writing at The Branson School in Ross, California. Hughes has lived at The St. Regis Monarch Beach for six years, where she is at work on her next novel.  Please check out her Website. (Photo by Sheri Geoffreys)

This is my 54th book for the New Authors Reading Challenge 2012.


Congrats to Kristin of Kritters' Ramblings



Congrats to Kristin; I hope you enjoy the book.  It looks to be a good summer read.

If you’re looking for some good reads, check out the giveaways for Guardians of the Gate and The Last Romanov.  Plus there is the steller 5 year blogiversary giveaway.

Stay tuned for the 3rd part of the Ernest Hemingway A Farewell to Arms read-a-long dicussion.

Mailbox Monday #180

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is Burton Book Review.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received:

1. Monarch Beach by Anita Hughes, which I received for review.

When Amanda Blick, a young mother and kindhearted San Francisco heiress, finds her gorgeous French chef husband wrapped around his sous-chef, she knows she must flee her life in order to rebuild it. The opportunity falls into her lap when her (very lovable) mother suggests Amanda and her young son, Max, spend the summer with her at the St. Regis Resort in Laguna Beach. With the waves right outside her windows and nothing more to worry about than finding the next relaxing thing to do, Amanda should be having the time of her life—and escaping the drama. But instead, she finds herself faced with a kind, older divorcee who showers her with attention… and she discovers that the road to healing is never simple. This is the sometimes funny, sometimes bitter, but always moving story about the mistakes and discoveries a woman makes when her perfect world is turned upside down.

2. The Reckoning by Alma Katsu, which arrived for review from her publicist. So Excited.

Lanore McIlvrae is the kind of woman who will do anything for love. Including imprisoning the man who loves her behind a wall of brick and stone.

She had no choice but to entomb Adair, her nemesis, to save Jonathan, the boy she grew up with in a remote Maine town in the early 1800s and the man she thought she would be with forever. But Adair had other plans for her. He used his mysterious, otherworldly powers to give her eternal life, but Lanore learned too late that there was a price for this gift: to spend eternity with him. And though he is handsome and charming, behind Adair’s seductive façade is the stuff of nightmares. He is a monster in the flesh, and he wants Lanore to love him for all of time.

Now, two hundred years after imprisoning Adair, Lanore is trying to atone for her sins. She has given away the treasures she’s collected over her many lifetimes in order to purge her past and clear the way for a future with her new lover, Luke Findley. But, while viewing these items at an exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Lanore suddenly is aware that the thing she’s been dreading for two hundred years has caught up to her: Adair has escaped from his prison. He’s free— and he will come looking for her. And she has no idea how she will save herself.

3. Blood Line by James Rollins, which came unexpectedly from William Morrow and will be finding a new home.

In a thrilling masterwork that will make you rethink your perceptions of life and death, New York Times bestselling author James Rollins takes you to the edge of medicine, genetics, and technology, revealing the next evolutionary leap forward: immortality.

Galilee, 1025. Infiltrating an ancient citadel, a Templar knight uncovers a holy treasure long hidden within the fortress’s labyrinth: the Bachal Isu — the staff of Jesus Christ — a priceless icon that holds a mysterious and terrifying power that promises to change humankind forever.

A millennium later, Somali pirates hijack a yacht off the coast of the Horn of Africa, kidnapping a young pregnant American woman. Commander Gray Pierce is enlisted for a covert rescue mission into the African jungle. The woman is no rich tourist: she’s Amanda Gant-Bennett, daughter of the U.S. president.

Suspicious that the kidnapping masks a far more nefarious plot, Gray must confront a shadowy cabal which has been manipulating events throughout history…and now challenges the current presidency.

What did you receive?

Guest Post & Giveaway: My Favorite Spot to Write by Anita Hughes

Monarch Beach by Anita Hughes looks like another great summer read, and it will be published on June 19.  The debut novel tackles what it means to cope with love and betrayal as Amanda Blick thinks she has the perfect marriage only to discover her cheating husband is having an affair with his sous-chef.  She takes up her mother’s offer to get away with her son Max to St. Regis Resort in Laguna Beach.  While she should be relaxing and getting her life back on track, life throws her another curve ball as a divorcee enters the picture and showers her with attention.

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to review every great book out there before publication, but these are the moments I live for — writer’s willing to share their writing spaces with my readers, and today, that’s just what Anita Hughes is going to do.  Please give her a warm welcome.

I am very fortunate when it comes to choosing a favorite writing spot. I live in what is arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world. Six years ago, my family and I moved into a villa on the grounds of the St. Regis, Monarch Beach. It is an interesting place to raise children – the year is marked not just by the school calendar – but by the Easter Egg Hunt on the Grand Lawn, the Monarch Butterfly Release every Saturday during the summer, and the carolers who come to the hotel each Christmas.

Living at the St. Regis also gives me more beautiful places to write than any author could ask for. For months, when the idea for my debut novel MONARCH BEACH was percolating, I sat at the table in front of CRUST, the resort café, gazing out the window. This became my regular spot and the staff at CRUST knew not to ask if I wanted a coffee or chocolate croissant. I only wanted to soak up the ambiance, and let the story form in my head.

When I was ready to put the words down on my laptop, it was time to change locations. I didn’t want to be influenced by my surroundings; I only wanted to be guided by my thoughts. I looked around my villa to find the ideal writing spot. I considered the sofa in the living room that faces the bookshelf. But I always found myself gazing at the lovely covers of my book collection, and couldn’t concentrate on my own burgeoning manuscript.

Finally I settled on the love seat in my bedroom. It sits next to the window that overlooks the golf course. It is the perfect spot and I have written all three novels there. (Two more come out next year). Occasionally a golf ball lands in our garden and scares our dog, or I see baby bunnies and have to stop to admire them. But there is no Internet connection, no glorious view of the Pacific Ocean, no smell of fresh coffee or chocolate croissants to distract me. When I write, I like to leave the world I am in and submerge myself in my writing. Even though I am surrounded by so much natural beauty, I am bit like a horse with blinders on. I only want to see what is right in front of me: the words appearing on my computer screen.

Thanks, Anita, for sharing your writing space with us.

Photo by Sheri Geoffreys

About the Author:

ANITA HUGHES attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing Program, and has taught Creative Writing at The Branson School in Ross, California. Hughes has lived at The St. Regis Monarch Beach for six years, where she is at work on her next novel.  Please check out her Website.

Win a copy of Monarch Beach by commenting on this post how you react to obstacles. Giveaway is open internationally. Deadline June 15, 2012.