Reviewed by Jennifer Jensen

Anita Hughes’ debut novel, Monarch Beach, is a frothy, consuming read which explores the choices that a woman makes after discovering her husband’s infidelity. Thirty-two year old Amanda Blick’s life is forever changed when she surprises her sexy French husband at his restaurant and walks in on him “doing” the sous-chef. She takes off with their son, Max, for the summer to Laguna Beach to relax and recover from the shocking image she cannot erase from her memory. Amanda is determined that they will divorce, but Andre swears he will never wrong her again, and that he wants his family back.

Ignoring the advice of her best friend Stephanie and her mother, Grace, Amanda quickly enters into a new relationship with Edward, an older man who divorced his wife several years ago because she cheated. Amanda must decide if she believes in second chances, new beginnings, or most of all, herself.

At first, I adored Monarch Beach. However, as I grew to know Amanda better, I started to feel less sorry for her. Amanda seemed unable to decide anything for herself, always relying on Stephanie or her mother to make her decisions for her. When Amanda began to ignore their advice, the decisions that she made were very poor. I could not understand why she wasn’t honest with her son as to why they had gone to Laguna Beach for the summer, and even why Max could not see that something was not right between his parents. When Amanda began to see Edward and he showered her with very non-platonic attention, Max still remained in the dark.

I was hoping that Monarch Beach would be a novel about a woman with childish innocence who finally takes a stand and becomes the incredible woman she was always meant to be. Instead, it was more about a woman who trades in one type of jerk for a different kind of jerk. Amanda doesn’t go through the type of growth I was hoping to see; even though the story eventually takes Amanda to where I wanted her to be, it’s still because someone else made those decisions for her.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Griffin. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.