After she discovers her sister Tanya dead on the floor of her fashionable New York City townhouse, Letty Carnahan is certain she knows who did it: Tanya’s ex; sleazy real estate entrepreneur Evan Wingfield. Even in the grip of grief and panic Letty heeds her late sister’s warnings: “If anything bad happens to me - it’s Evan. Promise me you’ll take Maya and run. Promise me.”
With a trunkful of emotional baggage ...
So Letty grabs her sister’s Mercedes and hits the road with her wailing four-year-old niece, Maya. Letty is determined to out-run Evan and the law but run to where? Tanya, a woman with a past shrouded in secrets, left behind a “go-bag” of cash and a big honking diamond ring - but only one clue: a faded magazine story about a sleepy mom-and-pop motel in a Florida beach town with the improbable name of Treasure Island. She sheds her old life and checks into an uncertain future at The Murmuring Surf Motel.
The No Vacancy sign is flashing & the sharks are circling ...
And that’s the good news. Because The Surf, as the regulars call it, is the winter home of a close-knit flock of retirees and snowbirds who regard this odd-duck newcomer with suspicion and down-right hostility. As Letty settles into the motel’s former storage room, she tries to heal Maya’s heartache and unravel the key to her sister’s shady past, all while dodging the attention of the owner’s dangerously attractive son Joe, who just happens to be a local police detective. Can Letty find romance as well as a room at the inn - or will Joe betray her secrets and put her behind bars? With danger closing in, it’s a race to find the truth and right the wrongs of the past.
Tanya had been in a relationship with Evan, a sleazy rich guy, and they had a child together, Maya, who is now four, who her parents are in a custody battle over. Tanya tells her older sister, Letty, that if anything happens to her, she should take Maya, along with her secret stash of money and a ring, and leave town and hide. When Letty discovers her Tanya dead in her condo, she assumes Evan killed Tanya, and does just what her sister had instructed. Letty heads to the Murmuring Surf Motel in Treasure Island, FL, because there was also an ad for it with the money and ring.
Ava, the owner of the motel, lets Letty clean up the junk room and move in. Ava needs help so she hires Letty in exchange for a lower room rate. Ava's son, Joe, is a police office, suspects Letty is hiding something so does some investigating. As Letty and Maya settle in, they get to know the long-term motel vacationers but Letty never lets her guard down. It's a good thing because back in New York, Evan is looking to hire someone to take care of Letty and get his daughter back.
I thought this book was okay, though a bit on the long side. It is written in third person perspective with the focus on the various characters, including briefly a feral cat named Midnight who lives on the motel property. As a head's up, there is swearing and adult activity.
I found Ava too trusting ... she let Letty move into a room, didn't ask for ID and let her pay cash (possibly so wouldn't have to claim it as income). Joe keeps bringing up all the mistakes she has made in the past in trusting people over the years and you'd think she would have learned her lesson by now.
Joe was a bit unbelievable and immature. He's a cop and had figured out what was going on in Letty's life so knew she had a lot going on. But he kept pushing her to get into a relationship (he's a long-time bachelor but he fell in love pretty well immediately) and kept getting pissed when Letty would ask for space. Not surprising, she eventually gives in and they live happily ever after.
I'm not crazy about kids in stories and found Maya annoying and whiny. Everyone keeps saying how smart she is and in New York she had exposure to the best of the best but her vocabulary didn't reflect this ... I cringed every time she said things like "bited" or "hitted". And then a couple paragraphs later this four-year-old used "ashamed" properly in a sentence. No way! And at one point she wanders off the property and is grabbed by a man and they hide in a culvert. She is terrified and fighting and eventually gets away. A couple hours later she does the same thing again ... wanders off! You'd think she would be more traumatized by the experience and would still close to home for a while.