The Books of Summer: Week Two

Today’s post by She Reads co-founder and all around amazing gal, Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

Week Two in our Books of Summer series brings us to a truly special book and a woman who I have grown to love so much I consider her a sister. Some friends become more than friends, they become family, and Marybeth has been that kind of friend to me. Marybeth understands Story in a way that few people do and her fifth novel, THE BRIDGE TENDER, is by far her best yet. We have a copy up for grabs today, along with the other four novels in our series. (See the entry form below for details). And you can still enter the giveaway for week one here.

The Books of Summer Collage

Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen

The Bridge in The Bridge Tender

Call me slow on the draw but the bridge symbolism in my new book wasn’t immediately apparent to me when I began writing. I conceived of the book idea just like I had conceived of several of my other novel ideas– on a visit to Sunset Beach, NC. The place itself evokes a feeling of escape, traveling back to a simpler time, and all the things a beach vacation should be. But on this visit the quaint and unpredictable pontoon bridge that had originally connected the island to the mainland was being replaced by a sleek, hulking, dependable structure arcing across the sky. The citizens and regular visitors of Sunset Beach were divided over the bridge’s demise, and it was this debate– and the passionate feelings associated with the bridge– that spurred me to write a novel about it.

It was only after I started crafting the story that I realized what I was doing. As I told the story about a young widow who must journey to Sunset Beach to fulfill her husband’s last wish for her and gets drawn into the community’s debate about the fate of the bridge, I was also telling a story about the bridges in our lives. Bridges, I came to understand, are the things that take us from where we’ve been to where we’re going. They connect us from our past to our present. They serve us well, if we let them. Yet sometimes we are resistant to crossing those bridges. We want to stay safely on the familiar side. We are afraid of the journey across, of what waits for us.

The old Sunset Beach bridge. Photo credit: http://www.seatrailownerrentals.com/

The old Sunset Beach bridge. Photo credit: http://www.seatrailownerrentals.com/

Sometimes we just need other people to make the journey with us. Sometimes we need assurance that there are going to be friendly faces there to greet us on the other side. Sometimes we need time to prepare to cross, and we need the people in our lives to let us take that time. My main character, Emily, needed all of this as she journeyed out of grief and into hope one halting step at a time.

I gave Emily what she needed, what we all need. I gave her new friends and old ones, someone who needed her, someone who she might need, people who made her laugh, who drew her back into fun and laughter and living again, people who also let her cry and play the same sad song over and over. I let her linger in safety, but I also pushed her towards the unknown. And in the end, I let her learn to trust that the bridge would take her where she needed to go.

Every book teaches me something about life. This one taught me about bridges, and getting where we need to go. And that, no matter what our journey looks like, there are always ways to get safely across.

* * *

tbtA surprise gift from her late husband will give a young widow the chance to do the hardest thing in the world . . . move on.

On their honeymoon, the new Mr. & Mrs. Ryan Shaw made a pact: No matter the sacrifices along the way, one day they would return to Sunset Beach, North Carolina—this time to buy their own home.

But that dream was not to be. Seven years into a beautiful marriage, Emily is left a widow, heartbroken, and way past caring about anything.

Until a man approaches her, claiming to have something left to her from Ryan. Something secret.

Unsure if she can ever embrace a new life without her husband, but even less sure about continuing to stay where she is, Emily heads to the coast to keep her end of the promise she once made.

Without delay, she becomes immersed in the lives of the locals, including the reclusive bridge tender with an unexpected past. As the community debates over building a new bridge, Emily must decide whether she will build a bridge of her own, one that will take her out of a painful past and into the new life—and new love—that her lost love made possible.

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About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

64 Responses to The Books of Summer: Week Two

  1. Becky June 12, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Put this one on my to read list right away!

  2. Paige Carroll June 12, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    This book sounds like the perfect summer read! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Ann Bresnan June 12, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds great!

  4. Debbie D June 12, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I love the bridge metaphor. Sounds like a great book!

  5. Beth Gillihan June 12, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    This book sounds great! I have only read The Guest Book and I really enjoyed it.

  6. Sheri June 12, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    My favorite books in this series are The Mailbox and The Guest Book. I can’t wait to read this new one.

  7. Cindy H in Texas June 12, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I’ve read The Guest Book and loved it!! Ready to read this one :)

  8. Gwyn June 12, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I love Marybeth Whalen’s books, I have read them all.

  9. Brooke June 12, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I am currently reading Marybeth’s book “the guest book” and love it. She is a great story teller. Love the feeling you get when reading her books!! I have followed her since the beginning of She Reads and enjoy her books, suggestions and posts! Will definitely be reading Bridge Tender and can’t wait!

    Brooke

  10. Lisa Milstead June 12, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I think my favorite is The Guest Book. Perhaps it is The Mailbox. It is so hard to decide! I have read all of them, including The Bridge Tender, and it is very hard to pick a favorite. I love them all! If I win, I will be gifting them so others will enjoy!

  11. nancy reynolds June 12, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Her books have been on my TBR List – but I haven’t gotten to read any yet – but they always sound so great. This one does, too. I have got to get to reading her books. This one sounds like a definite winner. Best of luck with it.

  12. Barb M June 12, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Love Marybeth’s books! Can’t wait to read this one!

  13. Susan G. June 12, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    My husband has traveled to North Carolina, and I hope to take a trip there as well some day (We live in Oregon). It has always looked so inviting from the books I read and from photos I’ve seen! I can’t wait to read this book.
    Thanks for the opportunity to win it!

  14. Janet R June 12, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Those MBW books are on my list! I’m SO looking forward to all of them!

  15. Betsy Hunter June 12, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I can’t wait to read this. I went to Barnes and Noble last night, bought 2 of the books from the summer series. This one is my next purchase. Keep writing –I’ll keep reading.

  16. Kawena June 12, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I haven’t read any of Marybeth’s books, but I would love to!

  17. Nicki June 12, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I haven’t read any of the Sunset Beach novels yet; this will be the first one!

  18. Ellen June 12, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Love summer reading

  19. Bonnie K. June 12, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I haven’t read any of Marybeth Whalen’s books. I will add to my to-read lit.

  20. DinT June 12, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    The Mailbox and I enjoyed it. Looking forward to reading more of her books.

  21. Michelle June 12, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Another good book!

  22. Daniela June 12, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Favorite ? Mailbox. But guest book is a favorite also. Loving the South Carolina beach and hope to visit there someday.

  23. GinaD June 12, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Marybeth is a new author for me – thanks for highlighting her!

  24. Susan Ashton June 12, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Another book that I would love to read!

  25. Kathy June 12, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I love novels that draw me into the lives of people who have come to find new direction as well as resolve their past. The novel, The Bridge Tender by Marybeth Whalen seems to be a book that pulls at my heart. All the other selections are also a good reason to find a spot in the shade to read and relax, my favorite past time.

  26. Hailey Fish June 13, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I have not read any of Mary Beth’s novels but I would love to. I enjoy reading new authors.

  27. Lori G. June 14, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I have not read any of Mary Beth’s novels yet but would love to win this prize package and become acquainted with a new author.

  28. Daniela June 14, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Just finished The Bridge Tender, oh how I loved this story. I live in a landlocked state, so I was completely unaware of a Bridge Tender, had never heard this term. So along with a wonderful story line, I received an education of North Carolina living.

  29. Alicia June 15, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Sounds like a great book, can’t wait to read it!

  30. Denise Y June 16, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Have read all Marybeth’s books! Loved The Mailbox…would love to read this one!!!

  31. lana June 16, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Mary Beth Whalen…. a must read!

  32. Britney Adams June 17, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I adore all of Marybeth’s books and can’t wait to read THE BRIDGE TENDER!

  33. Seaside Book Nook June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have not read any of the sunset novels, so I hope I win. Thanks for the giveaway.

  34. Jennifer T June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Perfect setting!

  35. Sharon Timmer June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have not read any of MaryBeth’s books but I have heard so many positive things about them – especially The Bridge Tender

  36. Susan Schleicher June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have not read one of her books yet. They are on my TBR list. Thanks for the chance!

  37. Leslie Greer June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have not read any of MaryBeth’s books. The Bridge Tender has captured my attention. I love Sunset Beach and have vacationed close by for many summers. This was after we stopped going to Pawley’s Island. Ocean Isle is just a skip away from Sunset Beach. I have added this book to my wish list.

  38. Paula Dolin June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    This book sounds great. I have enjoyed her other books. Thanks for the chance to win these.

  39. Amanda Beachum June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have not read any of these but the beaches of NC are my home away from home. I dream of moving closer to the Southern Outer Banks so I will definitely check these out. Thanks!

  40. Tracy D. June 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Sounds great!

  41. Kathy Last June 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I have not read any of her books, but I definitely will now! Love to find new authors :)

  42. Jencey Gortney June 23, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Mary Beth’s books look interesting and I am dying to dive right in.

  43. Melinda June 24, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I haven’t read anything by her yet…but I’d like to!

  44. Alisa June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    The story behind the story made this sound all the more intriguing. Got it on my wishlist.

  45. Theresa June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    OH MY GOSH – I can SO RELATE with this book!!!! I would love to win this one!!!!!!

  46. michelle h June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    another must read!

  47. Joyce Elling June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I think The Bridge Tender would be a great summer read!

  48. Darlene June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Love this line up of books. Love Marybeth’s books

  49. Vakerie June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Like Nancy above, I have several of Mary Beth’s books but haven’t read them yet – this is the summer to do so!

  50. brooke June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    The Guest Book was excellent! I’ve read several of her books and I love the settings in them!

  51. Velma Hunsucker June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I have read all of Marybeth Whalen ‘ s novels, and there is no way that I could pick a favorite because I love them all.

  52. Susan G. June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I can’t decide which book to read first! Thanks She Reads! This is my FAVORITE web site!

  53. Linda Kish June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I haven’t read them but I know I have been missing out.

  54. Lisa S June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I am embarrassed to say that I haven’t read any of her books!! Although, I love her tweets and have this one on my TBR list!! I’d love to win the book :D

  55. Anne Rightler June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Always love a contest. Here’s hoping to be a winner of this one. it sounds like a great summer read. Thank you for sharing.

  56. Anne Rightler June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I have not yet read any of Marybeth’s books so of course, couldn’t say which would be my favorite. Here’s hoping to find out.

  57. Betty Apsley June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I have not yet read any of Marybeth’s books, so I am looking forward to it. Hope I win!

  58. Michelle Walsh June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Love to read Marybeth’s books. Looking forward to this new one!

  59. Beth June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    This book sounds great!

  60. Linda June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I would love to read your book. Thank you.

  61. Connie Saunders June 26, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    No, but I will definitely change this. Thanks for this giveaway.

  62. Carol V June 27, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have not read any of Marybeth’s books but this sounds like a winner. I’m also going to check out her other books based on the other posted comments!

  63. Kimberly V June 29, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    No, I have never read any of Marybeths’s books. I hadn’t heard of her until now. Thanks for the introduction.

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