This absorbing book starts with the three Sweet sisters attending their motherís wedding. Their mother is moving on after the death of their father six years ago, and she is marrying a younger man. Eldest sister Tara is slightly stressed Ė she has planned the wedding and is now also dealing with her own broken engagement (as of the day before) and the loss of her job. Middle sister Mel plans to flee their small Missouri town for a career in New York City. The baby of the trio, Camille, is just having fun with her friends from high school. Although technically their cousin, Camille has lived with the Sweets since she was small and has always been like a sister to Tara and Mel.
Garnering strength from the gutsy main character of the soap opera she is obsessed with, Tara decides to use her severance package to honor her fatherís final request: that the sisters visit their hometown of Otter Bay, California. Camille is a willing traveler and guesses pretty quickly that Tara intends to put down roots in the scenic tourist destination, as guess confirmed when Tara takes a job at kindly Nigelís old inn. Mel soon shows up to get in on the adventure.
As she settles in and starts meeting the locals, Tara discovers that her parentís former life wasnít at all the peaceful beach existence she thought it was. Soon Mel - and eventually Camille - discover the secrets that their mother has avoided telling them, leading all three women to reexamine their relationships with their parents, each other and the locals.
Tara must also scrutinize her burgeoning romance with hunky firefighter Josh, who is struggling with his own secrets and family drama. Camille has to question her attraction to a rather untrustworthy surfer. Since this is a Christian romance, though, donít expect things to get too steamy.
Sweet Waters is one of Julie Carobiniís Otter Bay novels. The author uses Joshís involvement in a local church and Taraís rediscovery of her familyís participation in that same church to pursue themes of faith, love, forgiveness and rebirth.
I donít usually read Christian fiction (the back cover copy doesnít reveal this chick lit book as such), but Carobini is talented at building the suspense needed to keep you reading. She is also skilled at giving a unique voice to each character Ė particularly the benevolent Nigel and irritable Peg, owner of the popular Red Abalone Grill. The author makes us care about the inhabitants of Otter Bay, particularly the Sweet sisters. We read on, hoping for their fairytale ending.
Sweet Waters is Carobiniís third beach-themed book; A Shore Thing is part of the same series. Carobini has received awards for both her fiction and nonfiction from the National League of American Pen Women.