The Love Shack
The Love Shack is the follow up book to Christie Ridgway’s Beach House No. 9. In Beach House, we learn the story of Griffin Lowell and Jane Pearson. In The Love Shack, the story shifts to Gage Lowell, Griffin’s twin.
Like his twin brother Griffin, Gage Lowell is an artist who tells the stories no one wants to see. While Griffin uses words to paint a picture, Gage is a renowned photographer who travels to the world’s hot spots. Something traumatic happened to Gage during his last mission and only the letters he received from his childhood friend Skye Alexander helped him mentally survive the ordeal. She became both his lodestone and talisman during those dark days, and when Gage returns to Crescent Cove for his brother’s wedding, he wants to get reacquainted with Skye.
Skye Alexander is fighting demons of her own when Gage returns to Crescent Cove. The beach houses at Crescent Cove have been in her family for generations and she is the last of her family willing to manage them. Now she is not sure she can remain once the crowds leave at the end of summer. Skye is like a wraith scurrying around the beach in overlarge sweatshirts and baggy pants. Makeup and jewelry have become a thing of the past for her. Everything she does is designed to deflect attention. When Gage insists upon sharing her company, each of them works hard to keep their own secrets from the other. Thinking her ability to feel physical desire has deserted her, Skye is surprised to find that Gage has brought her desire back to life. But he is leaving after the wedding and all he can be to her is a friend with benefits.
Ridgway does a very good job pacing this story as she slowly uncovers the secrets that both Skye and Gage are keeping. Gage thinks that because of his job, he cannot put down roots like his brother and keeps any meaningful relationships at bay. Because of Skye’s traumatic secret, she is not sure she can ever again be a whole woman, so the “friends with benefits” seems like a good idea at the time. The one problem I had with Skye’s secret was that she has a best friend – Polly – who lives in Crescent Cove, whom she has known for years. Not revealing this secret to Polly just seemed a bit contrived to me.
There is a side romance between Polly and Teague that is almost as strong a story as the one between Gage and Skye. Instead of a secondary romance, the relationship between Polly and Teague just barely escapes eclipsing that of the main characters. I was a bit ambivalent about this part of the book. I enjoyed Polly and Teague’s story and I think Ridgway tells it well. However, I almost felt their story was in competition with Skye and Gage, and felt it might have been better to give the couples separate books to do them both justice. She does give all four characters enough depth to sustain them in this book, but maybe we might have seen even deeper character studies had she had the space to delve further into their psyches.
Overall though, I thought the book was well written, engaging and would recommend it to Christie Ridgway fans.