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Chesapeake Diaries #8

On Sunset Beach

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Carly Summit’s name couldn’t be more fitting, since in life she always lands on top. She grew up wealthy and privileged in a tony Connecticut town, opened her own gallery in New York City, and is about to make art world history displaying previously unknown works by a prominent twentieth-century painter. No wonder she possesses a can-do attitude that can’t be soured. Ford Sinclair is another story. A military career in war-torn Africa, where he witnessed unspeakable violence and suffering, has left him haunted and deeply cynical. Now he’s looking for a way to forget and a place to belong. He hopes to find both back home in St. Dennis.

When Carly is forced to move the premiere of her new exhibition from Manhattan to St. Dennis, and Ford agrees to take charge of the town’s only newspaper, the two cross paths. But it’s hardly the start of a beautiful friendship. While Ford can’t ignore her charms, Carly’s unflappable good cheer only confounds him. Yet beneath Ford’s stormy brooding, Carly sees a man worth caring about—even if her warmest ways can’t thaw his frozen heart. But when a scandal suddenly threatens to destroy Carly’s career, Ford finds himself fighting hard for her—and falling for her even harder.

384 pages, Paperback

First published July 1, 2014

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About the author

Mariah Stewart

76 books1,152 followers
Mariah Stewart is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of forty-one novels and three novellas and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal. She is a RITA finalist in romantic suspense and the recipient of the Award of Excellence for contemporary romance, a RIO Award for excellence in women's fiction, and a Reviewers Choice Award from Romantic Times Magazine. A three-time winner of the Golden Leaf Award presented by the New Jersey Romance Writers, Stewart was recently awarded their Lifetime Achievement Award (which placed her in their Hall of Fame along with former recipients Nora Roberts and Mary Jo Putney — very excellent company, indeed!)

After having written seven contemporary romance novels, Stewart found true happiness writing murder and mayhem. She considers herself one lucky son of a gun to have landed the best job in the world: getting paid for making up stories. At home. In sweats and J. Crew flip flops. Could life be sweeter?

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 121 reviews
Profile Image for Shelley Lawrence.
1,554 reviews81 followers
July 5, 2020
4.25 stars
On Sunset Beach follows another of St. Dennis’s legendary Grace Sinclair’s children, Ford. He has been absent from this small town and his family for years as he fought for people’s freedom in Africa. After a devastating event, he’s finally and reluctantly home once again.

Meanwhile, Carly Summit, Ellie’s best friend, is in town from New York promoting her new book and an art exhibition by her own discovery, Carolina Ryder’s work. The two seem to heal wounds within one another as well as answering Grace’s prayers to have her son home again.

The two definitely fall quickly, but it’s nonetheless, a sweet courting. It’s also interesting to learn more about the art world and the continuation of Carolina’s painting history. It is moving to hear Ford’s recollections of his time in Africa and his growing up years in St. Dennis. I really enjoyed both characters, and I adore quirky, strong-minded Grace. It was nice to spend more time in this Chesapeake Bay town with old friends.
Profile Image for Janeiowa.
1,245 reviews
August 5, 2014
This novel, the latest in the Chesapeake Diaries series, continues to revolve around the children of Grace Sinclair and the eastern shore town of St. Dennis.

The characters of Ford, Grace's youngest child, and the female main character Carly Summit, a wealthy and successful art gallery owner, are both believable and likeable. Neither is perfect, of course, and they should not be to be, for me, realistic.

The storyline progressed a bit slowly at times, but that was ok. All of this books in this series have a bit of "woo-woo"/a bit of maybe there are ghosts and communicating with those who have died. I am NOT a fan of the paranormal, but its presence here is confined to Grace and her beliefs which makes it tolerable and not annoying.

It seems as if the next book may be about Dan, a widower, the Inn manager, and Grace's oldest child. I look forward to it
542 reviews3 followers
June 7, 2020
Solid beach read. Strong characters within a beach community. No surprises within the plot.
September 6, 2014
Ok, so, this book. After reading too much bad erotica, I decided I’d go the other direction and try to soothe my overloaded senses with some wholesome, small town, cozy romance. And that is exactly what Mariah Stewart delivered. Here’s the thing, I’ve never read a Mariah Stewart novel, but I know she writes a lot of them and that they’re pretty popular. I guess what I hadn’t been prepared for was how much out of my wheelhouse this book would be.

The basic story is that Ford comes back from working for the military in Africa. He’s seen the woman he was in love with shot to death, and returns to his family’s inn on St. Dennis on the Chesapeake Bay (I’ve looked it up, I don’t think this place actually exists, but I’d love to know for sure). Carly Summit is a privileged international art gallery owner and investor, because those are super common these days, who is in St. Dennis to show the paintings of a long-deceased St. Dennis artist. They meet at a party, and seem to like each other, then Ford conveniently has to interview her for his family-run newspaper, and they form a relationship. It all unfolds kind of slowly and without any real sort of honest emotional connection.

I think this kind of romance novel is definitely for an older age group, even though the characters are in my age group – late 20’s/early 30’s. In general, even though I got a warm and welcoming feel from the supporting characters, and the descriptions of the St. Dennis community at large, it didn’t stop me from being just a little bored. The book just lacked sparkle, and a sense of urgency from the characters that would lend some dimension to their love story.

I also didn’t think the characters were all that developed and their whole personalities seemed to hinge on one trait, making them somewhat generic and uninteresting. The dialogue was clunky, and oftentimes much of what was said by a character was said again in the next sentence, only in a different way, and not much of it sounded how people would actually talk in the first place. There was also a kind of embarrassing misuse of slang wherein the author used the already anachronistic, “Oh, snap,” when one of the characters can’t recall the location of her keys. Sorry, folks, but that’s not how “oh, snap” works.

I don’t mean to be a bummer about this book because I think it has a good heart, and as I’ve said, the author writes and sells a lot of books, so maybe I’m way out in left field. The book was a gentle balm for an overactive mind, and kind of took me to a place where people sit on their porch all day and drink lemonade, but I couldn’t help but get a little bored. Maybe that’s my own fault though, maybe I now expect every couple to engage in snappy banter and sexually heightened interludes, and need to make more room for the ordinary, but then again, isn’t that the reason I read romance novels in the first place?
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Erin.
219 reviews23 followers
April 7, 2015
Carly Summit grew up wealthy in Connecticut. She owns several art galleries and is making a name for herself, bringing fresh new faces to the art world. She is aiming for her world debut with her next project, a twentieth-century painter, who just happens to be a relative of her friend. Carly's positive attitude is the complete opposite of Ford Sinclair's. Ford is just returning home from his career in the military. While he was gone, he witnessed horrible, unspeakable acts. Ford keeps his emotions to himself, and likes to stay away from people, until he meets Carly. Though the two are complete opposites in their attitude, they both are very compassionate people. In spending time together, a bond is created, and a fire ignited, but when Ford is called back to duty, will this be the end of their relationship?

This book was a very sweet story. I loved the details in the story. It made me wish I were at the beach. I felt so bad for Ford. He has been through so much in his life already, and he seems to just continue to be dealt a bad hand, until his return home to St. Dennis. You can see that even though he tries to avoid people, his attraction to Carly is undeniable, and he can't stay away. I loved how Carly is understanding of Ford, and allows him time to open up to her.

I received a copy of this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
Profile Image for Ann Lorz.
1,563 reviews19 followers
June 25, 2014
Like all the other prior books in the series this one is well written, with wonderful characters. You can't help falling for both Ford and Carly. They are both very nice, likable people. You can't help but want them to be happy. Ford has a few past issues he needs to work out but with Carly's help his feet hit solid ground. You can't help but cheer these two on. A wonderful summer read!
Profile Image for Romancing the Book.
4,420 reviews210 followers
October 8, 2019
Reviewed by Jen
Book provided by NetGalley

I've been waiting for Ford's story.  Since his mother has been a prominent fixture in the series, he's been brought up several times and so it's finally great to see him finally land in his hometown.  I've been loving this series and so when this book came across my desk, I knew it was time to return to St. Dennis.

Ford has some major issues.  He's finally returned home after a particularly nasty mission in Africa and just wants to lose himself and heal.  Part of that recovery is to spend time taking over the town's newspaper that his family has own and ran for years.  Then we have Carly.  She was introduced in The Long Way Home , which was her best friend's story.  Carly is an art gallery owner and is writing a book about and opening an exclusive art show featuring a famous St. Dennis artist.  The two meet at a party and then again when Ford interviews Carly about her project.

In the end, this is a pretty forgettable romance.  Looking back at this book several months after having read it, I remember Carly and her gallery part of the storyline pretty clearly, but Ford and their romance just didn't stand out as much as I'd expect from a romance.  Since this is book eight in the series, many of the past couples make appearances and long standing characters, such as Ford's mother Grace, are once again featured.

All in all, if you've read the series, you're not going to pass this one.  It's a touch slow and not as satisfying as I'd have liked, but it was a pleasant trip back to St. Dennis.  If you've not read this series, I wouldn't recommend starting here.
548 reviews
October 29, 2017
Carly Summit’s name couldn’t be more fitting, since in life she always lands on top. She grew up wealthy and privileged in a tony Connecticut town, opened her own gallery in New York City, and is about to make art world history displaying previously unknown works by a prominent twentieth-century painter. No wonder she possesses a can-do attitude that can’t be soured. Ford Sinclair is another story. A military career in war-torn Africa, where he witnessed unspeakable violence and suffering, has left him haunted and deeply cynical. Now he’s looking for a way to forget and a place to belong. He hopes to find both back home in St. Dennis.

When Carly is forced to move the premiere of her new exhibition from Manhattan to St. Dennis, and Ford agrees to take charge of the town’s only newspaper, the two cross paths. But it’s hardly the start of a beautiful friendship. While Ford can’t ignore her charms, Carly’s unflappable good cheer only confounds him. Yet beneath Ford’s stormy brooding, Carly sees a man worth caring about—even if her warmest ways can’t thaw his frozen heart. But when a scandal suddenly threatens to destroy Carly’s career, Ford finds himself fighting hard for her—and falling for her even harder
631 reviews9 followers
August 29, 2019
In the previous book, when Carly Summit, a renown art dealer, discovered that Ellie, her friend, had some Carolina Ellis' paintings, she wanted to display them to the art world. She fully planned to show them in her galleries in New York, but the St. Dennis town board wanted them in the newly available Enright Mansion. So Carly agreed to move down to St. Dennis to supervise the opening of the gallery. Then Ford, son of Grace Sinclair, owner of the weekly newspaper, arrives home from his military service over in Africa. When his mother takes a terrible fall down the stairs at the Inn, Ford takes on the writing of feature articles on the Gazette. The sparks fly as the two work at their jobs. So how will this all end?
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 2 books2 followers
June 18, 2017
Mariah does it again with this charming, small town romance. This story balances the pain of shocking discovery with the pleasure of self discovery that only a good old fashioned soul shattering revelation can kick start. Though the rhythm of the story and pattern of events is synonymous with the rest of the series, Jamie's internal conflicts are easily familiar and she handles the bumps in her life journey with poise. With one heck of a supporting cast, not that Grace Sinclair takes a second seat to any lead character (wink, wink), this tale of love and rediscovery is an easy read that'll barely leave your hands until you're on the last page.
Profile Image for Felicity Fields.
289 reviews
July 10, 2022
Excellent character development for the first 2/3 of the book. I enjoyed the interplay between the characters and was drawn into their individual stories.

Sadly, the book lost that starting at their first kiss and right on to the end. The last 1/3 of the book felt rushed, as if the author realized they only had a certain number of pages to wrap everything up. The result is a cliche, shallow ending that chucks the decent character development out the window. For that reason, I will not seek out other books by this author.
1,370 reviews4 followers
July 19, 2017
Another episode set in the Chesapeake Bay area town of "St. James." Ford returns home to recover from his time serving in Africa and comes to the realization his aging mother is doing just that===aging. He takes over her job of running the local paper temporarily (famous last words!) and falls in love with an art gallery owner who is setting up an event displaying of the works of one of the Bay's unsung artists.
Profile Image for Debbie.
4 reviews1 follower
October 30, 2019
I have read all of her books and this one was as good as all the others. Great pacing, great characters. And I lvoed the story it told. Easy enough to get through in a couple of days, but in depth enough that I felt like it meant something. I love it when I read a book adn I can't decide who my favorite character is because I loved them all. Another winner by Stewart.
Profile Image for Alice.
730 reviews
January 21, 2021
I read this series, in order, over the past month or so, through the lonely holidays in 'Covid 19 world'. It is a wonderful series-- 12 books each with a lovely romance, some mystery and magic. The characters are great and each story has its own theme, if you will, which made them so interesting as new friends were introduced to others in their small town on the beautiful Chesapeake.
Profile Image for Emsy Van Wyck.
200 reviews3 followers
July 14, 2014
Small town romance at its BEST! The PERFECT summer read!!!
Will an urbanite gallerist and a cynical soldier find love in Mariah Stewart’s On Sunset Beach?

Combine the story of an art historian / gallerist who’s discovered a priceless cache of heretofore unknown paintings by an early-20th-century female artist, with the return of a disillusioned soldier, a hometown boy who’s served for too many years it seems as a support for UN Peacekeepers in a Central African country and you will have a bit of magic to read. Yes, you guessed right, I’m describing On Sunset Beach, the newest book in Mariah Stewart’s The Chesapeake Diaries series and one that I couldn’t wait to read.

I so enjoyed Stewart’s depiction of Carly Summit. It was all spot on and made me ever so wistful about not “using” my advanced degree in art history . . . but all the more appreciative of the realistic and sometimes hilarious descriptions of Carly’s life as a very well regarded gallerist, her research, and her curatorial work.

Another reason I adored the character of Carly was that she's so unabashedly positive. She happily creates the finest lemonade from a serving of life’s lemons that might have other people tearing out their hair. In all probability, it is this positive energy that is the major draw for Ford’s troubled soul. A good life lesson for all of us to send out positive vibes, rather than dwelling in negativity - and some magic may occur. Yes, a bit of the “Law of Attraction” right here on the Chesapeake.

But what is urbanite Carly doing in St. Dennis to begin with? In book seven, At the River's Edge, Carly and her BFF Ellie Ryder discovered a cache of Caroline Ellis’ paintings, that will be the focal point of the exhibition, in Ellie’s attic. Yes, Ellie is the great-great-granddaughter of Ellis. So many threads to weave the tapestry of The Chesapeake Diaries.

So there is a definite St. Dennis connection for Carolina Ellis. The fates (and some St. Dennis natives spurred on by Grace) decided that instead of the planned debut of exhibition Ellis' work at Carly’s Manhattan gallery that this exhibition of a St. Dennis native should open the new Art Center to be located at the former Enright estate. (If you’re a series regular you’ll remember how and why the estate was given to the town.)

So, that was first lemon handed to Carly - moving a groundbreaking and reputation enhancing exhibition from one of the art world’s capital cities to a small town on the Chesapeake. How does she deal? She grumbles for a moment than figures out a way to make it all work, from overseeing where on the estate the exhibition will be held to getting the art world's decision makers to attend. It's fascinating how she oversees how the space will be designed and making it art friendly (climate control, security, etc). Luckily Ellie’s fiancé Cameron has a construction company that will handle the remodel - and perhaps a certain ex-soldier might have a security expert friend to help too.

Speaking of … Grace Sinclair’s son Ford returned after years away in a very needed, but soul-destroying, off-the-books military service in Central Africa. He won’t speak to anyone about his experience there, and really tries to avoid discussing his time away from St. Dennis, but does seem to find some peace in solo kayak trips on the Chesapeake. Ford eventually takes over some of Grace’s newspaper duties after an unexpected accident. His first assignment? To interview and profile Carly.

Grace, the series’ namesake diarist, is in her seventies and is the owner and publisher of the local newspaper, who lives at the families’ five star Inn, and once in a while may use a bit of matchmaking magic to ensure friends and family pair off successfully. Her intuitive sense definitely went on the alert for a pairing of Carly (whom she just met) and Ford (who she senses is darkly troubled), but very little of her magic turns out to be needed. Really, they sparked from the moment they encounter one another in the Inn’s lobby in front of one of Carolina Ellis’ paintings.

On Sunset Beach is the perfect book to read and savor on a mid-summer day. There’s just enough unresolved conflict surrounding Ford and Carly’s budding relationship to keep a reader crossing fingers till the last page is turned. Many of the well-beloved characters from the previous books have return engagements and once again Scoop is a favorite destination as is the new restaurant, Blossoms.

That’s one of the things I love about this series - the very magical way Stewart weaves together all these characters and story lines and creates a town that I know if I drive about three hours south I’ll discover not the Chesapeake. Yes, she has that ability to embue her stories with such a realism that I’m sure there are readers looking for St. Dennis all the time. Isn’t that what every author seeks to accomplish? Just a perfect series! If you haven’t read the seven other books, Stewart does provide enough backstory in On Sunset Beach for this to be a very interesting standalone title. But I do think you’ll be swept up by a bit of Grace’s magic and will put The Cheseapeake Diaries on your must-read shelf. It’s just one of the most engaging small-town romances around.
1,518 reviews
May 29, 2017
This one had a bit more drama, but still a sweet story of, once again, finding one's self and what one is meant to do... and again, true love.
The only complaint for me was that the main character's revelation was so subtle that the reader almost misses it.
Profile Image for Cate Martin.
338 reviews
January 13, 2018
Perhaps I wasn’t in the mood to read a descriptive book. I can see how people would love this book but I did a quick speed read to the end. I love hotted up romances so this book wasn’t so much for me
Profile Image for Karen Debolt.
45 reviews
March 25, 2018
This is the story of Ford and Carly. Good story line and the characters were developed well. Very believable story. Enjoyed the book and would recommend to anyone. Looking forward to reading the next book.
December 9, 2021
A definite highlight of the series. Character development, story line and just a very good " feel good" book.

I have enjoyed the entire series. This book is my favorite!
Like the way Mariah Stewart developed her characters and brings them into each book in the series.
20 reviews
July 30, 2017
I enjoy this series that takes place on the Chesapeake. The characters have interesting lives and the author entwines a historical background for their stories. A light read; with a feel good story.
38 reviews1 follower
October 23, 2017
Quite an experience.

The storyline is straightforward, but the characters are stellar. They have issues and challenges just like you and me !!!
Profile Image for Carol Rankin.
291 reviews2 followers
January 14, 2018
On Sunset Beach

Great surprises and action. Love conquers all. Surprises galore especially when the main characters find out that they can't be apart!
1,008 reviews1 follower
December 30, 2016
Loved the story, the characters, and the location. I was disappointed with the romance of it, though. It teased you with one sex scene, then went G rated.
(Note to self: the town setting was totally reminiscent of another series by another author. The names of the shops weren't the same, but it felt like a copycat.)
Profile Image for Kathleen (Kat) Smith.
1,612 reviews81 followers
May 28, 2015
Looking for a great summer novel to take with you to the beach? Look no further than On Sunset Beach by Mariah Stewart. This is the 8th book in the series and I have read every single one of them so I truly feel like a resident of St. Dennis, the beachside community on the Chesapeake Bay where all these novels take place. Along the way, we get to meet a couple, sometimes they are residents of St. Dennis or simply have found themselves there by fate, but whatever the reason, love and romance always ensue and most of the time, even a marriage or two.

Ford Sinclair is finally making his way home after working in Africa as part of a black ops security team helping to protect the UN Peacekeepers that serve in the country riddle by terrorists, a corrupt government and groups wanting to take over the towns one by one. His family doesn't know that's where he has been all these years, instead they believe he is a UN Peacekeeper instead. He believes it will keep his mother from spending countless hours worrying about his safety and whether or not he will make it home. But when all the troops are called out, Ford heads to his childhood home and a family reunion he's a bit apprehensive to take part in.

Carly Summit has been waiting for the gallery opening of the life time, being a huge successful multi art gallery owner with locations quite literally all over the world. She has the uncanny ability to locate new talent who become the next big thing in the art world only by her ability to truly care for the artists themselves and it is something they don't forget when they make it big in the art world. Now she has found the perfect gallery showing with a little known artist, Carolina Ellis, from St. Dennis for her next exhibit in Manhattan. Taking a lost collection recovered in the attic of her home and the diaries that told how she struggled to share her passion of art with the world against her husband's wishes, she painted in secret and gave most of them away. Now she hopes she can piece together enough of her life story to accompany her artwork to help her family back in St. Dennis should they ever want to part with her any of her paintings. But when her plans hit an unexpected wall, she may have to move her gallery exhibition to the small town of St. Dennis if she hopes to show the paintings.

I received On Sunset Beach by Mariah Stewart compliments of Ballantine Books for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for an honest review except for a complimentary copy of the novel. The opinions expressed here are strictly my own. This is such an exceptional novel that compliments the entire series and once again introduces us to Ford Sinclair and his long awaited homecoming especially for his mother. If you know the series, the romance is never easy and doesn't fall right into their laps, which is what I love about this series. They evolve like real life does, they are believable and because I am a romantic at heart, and a beach lover, these ones really appeal to me. The best part about the series, is even though they are written in order, it doesn't take away from the novel if you happen to pick them up out of sequence but trust me if you grab this one as your first, you will definitely want to go back to the beginning and read it from the first novel. Well worth every single 5 out of 5 stars and I can't wait for her next novel in the series due out very soon!!!
263 reviews
July 27, 2014
**Received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.**

"On Sunset Beach" is written by Mariah Stewart, and it's the eighth book in her "Chesapeake Diaries" series and can be read as a stand-alone book. I've always loved this series, and this is no different. The stories Mariah writes are poignant and well-written. In this book, we read about Carly Summit and Ford Sinclair.

Carly has an art gallery in Manhattan and is also writing a manuscript about Carolina Ellis, a famous painter who lived in St. Dennis, Connecticut. She's really hoping this will put her gallery on the map. Her plan was to display unknown works by Carolina at her art gallery, but because the paintings are in Ellie's attic, a friend of Carly's, as well as with other people in St. Dennis, the townspeople agreed to have the paintings be introduced in their town instead. Carly then relocates to St. Dennis to help out with the exhibition.

Meanwhile, Ford has just come back from Africa. He's been in the military and recently lost some of his friends. He's been struggling over their loss. His mother, Grace, is so happy to have her son back that she throws a welcome back party for him. Grace is determined to have him and Carly meet. She senses that there is something about Carly - that she will play an important part in her son's life.

Grace has always had this sort of psychic, innate ability. She claims her beloved friend, Alice, is always sending her messages and guiding her along the way. But for some reason, Alice abandoned her when it came to introducing Ford and Carly to one another.

What Grace doesn't know is Ford and Carly actually do meet each other at his welcome home party. Ford saw Carly trying to look at a painting by Carolina, but she wasn't allowed to look at it closely. After Ford cajoled a staff member, he brought the painting next to Carly, and they talked briefly about it. From the get-go, there was an instant connection between the two of them. They would run into each other again, but weren't formally introduced.

Grace is still determined to get them to meet someway somehow. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen until Grace falls and is forced to wear a cast and be in a wheelchair. She blames Alice for tipping her over. But because of this unfortunate incident, her plans to interview Carly for the local newspaper about the exhibition is changed. She comes up with a brilliant plan. Ford will interview Carly!

To me, this is where the fun began. I enjoyed seeing Ford and Carly's relationship grow into something more. It was just beautifully told! I absolutely loved when they made a 7-day bet and when he took her to the location of Carolina's painting in "Stolen Moments", which used to be a place Ford liked to go to when he was younger... Sunset Beach! And despite Grace being somewhat invalid now, she still remained bossy on how Ford was to write his articles! It made for some funny scenes!

Kudos to Mariah! She has written another wonderful story to this series! Not sure which book will be next, but I'd love to read Dan's story soon!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 121 reviews

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