Three very different women, taken in by a Ponzi scheme and who have lost everything, unite to rehab the only asset they now own, third shares in a large but neglected mansion on Pass-a-Grill beach near Tampa. As they work to bring Bella Flora back to its former glory so that they can sell it and recoup at least some of their catastrophic losses, the women become friends. But the secrets they are hiding from each other could prove more devastating and unsurmountable than the amount of work they have to do on the house.
Madeline, a stay at home mother and wife, discovers, almost by accident, that her husband has been laid off from his investment firm job for over six months. Not only had he invested his clients' money in Bernie Madoff-like Malcolm Dyer's Ponzi scheme but he'd sunk all of their own money as well as his mother's in the too good to be true portfolio. And once he has told her the truth, Steve retreats to the couch and a state of complete depressed catatonia. As if losing their life savings isn't bad enough, the mother-in-law who has long disliked her has had to move in with them thanks to declining health, her daughter calls and asks to come home after having gotten pregnant by a married Hollywood star and then fired from her film job as a result, and her college-aged son loses his scholarship because of bad grades. The sky could not fall any further in on her.
Avery is the disgruntled sexy side-kick on a home renovation show with her now ex-husband. Despite being the driving force behind the show in the beginning, and the one with the architecture degree, she has allowed herself to be sidelined almost to the point of being a prop. And then she is let go. Still grieving the sudden loss of her father the year before, she is horrified to learn that her entire inheritance has been lost in Malcolm Dyer's investments.
Nicole is a high profile matchmaker who deals in fulfilling the requirements of her wealthy clients. She is under no illusions about love, except perhaps the love she still has for her younger brother, the one she mothered during the years they lived in dire poverty as their mother worked around the clock just to survive. The problem is that Nicole's brother is the infamous Malcolm Dyer and he stole everything she had too. She's lost her business, her home, and all the trappings of success that she worked so hard for after vowing that she would never again live like she lived as a child.
Each of the women travels down to Pass-a-Grill to look at her last remaining hope, the dilapidated mansion in which they each have shares, determined to sell the house and try to get back to some semblence of a normal life. But the house is worth much more rehabbed than it is "as is" and the women, each keeping the secret not only of the ruinous state of her own finances but of the even more dire situations in their backgrounds, commit to bringing Bella Flora back to its original glory with a little help from the contractor son of Avery's dad's old partner. And as they rebuild this glorious old house, they rebuild their own lives as well, becoming stronger and more confident people into the bargain.
The main characters are delightful. Each of the women faces different challenges and has to learn to push past the defeat and create the sort of life she wants to lead. The secondary characters are just as well drawn and appealing as the main characters and help the main characters make the changes they need to make to grow and develop into the people they want to be. While there are men swarming all over Bella Flora, as it is transformed, it is refreshing that this did not turn into three (or four) love stories where a romantic relationship passes for change and growth. Instead, the women become stronger and more capable on their own, showing real change and growth and any relationship chemistry takes a backseat to their own senses of empowerment and dawning strength. A quick and engrossing read, this is the perfect book to accompany a beach chair and a frozen drink. The reader will almost wish to be in said beach chair, frozen drink in hand, next to these three fictional but remarkable women as they find and share their "one good thing" at the end of each long day.
For more information about Wendy Wax and the book visit her webpage and her Facebook page
Thanks to Lisa from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.