by Mary Alice Monroe

April 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7783-2462-1
Reviewer Graphic Button Mira Books

Mary Alice Monroe is taking readers on a return journey to Isle of Palms in her latest book Swimming Lessons. Swimming Lessons is the sequel to The Beach House (which I have not read).

I can only assume that in the previous title we were introduced to a young, troubled Toy Sooner. In Swimming Lessons Toy has graduated from college, and is a single mother struggling to raise her young daughter known to all who love her as Little Lovie. Living on Isle of Palms almost certainly means that in some way you are connected to protecting the sea turtles who nest on the land.

The Turtle Ladies as they call themselves are a tight knit group protective of not only the turtle eggs, but of one another as well. If one hurts they all hurt. If one is happy they’re all happy. The depth of their friendship is tested in Swimming Lessons, and whether or not it not only survives but also flourishes remains to be seen.

When a turtle is injured Toy, and the other Turtle Ladies become more than determined to bring it ashore, and start the healing process. Soon the turtle, dubbed Big Girl, is in the South Carolina Aquarium and Toy has been charged with heading her rehabilitation. The directors of the aquarium also decide that Toy should apply for a grant so that a full turtle hospital can be established.

Ethan, a coworker at the aquarium offers to help Toy with the grant writing. Soon a relationship between Ethan, Toy, and Little Lovie is flourishing. Toy however has insecurities, which may destroy the young relationship.

Swimming Lessons focuses a lot on the plight of the sea turtles. I understand that not many of us take the care and precaution we should with our fragile environment, but when I pick up a romance I want romance, and not an environmental lesson. I was disappointed with the focus of the romance in Swimming Lessons.

I was also disappointed with the handling of the reappearance of Darryl, Little Lovie’s father. Toy was quick to forgive his desertion of her, and allow him back into their lives. Then towards the end of the book a situation arises in which he is involved, and I feel that Toy’s inner circle jumped to conclusions, and caused the situation to escalate, when if cooler heads had prevailed the severity of the situation might have been prevented.

I really don’t like saying that I didn’t enjoy a book, especially one by an author whose books I have enjoyed, but in a year of personal great reads Swimming Lessons unfortunately fell a bit short.

Reviewed in May 2007 by Sandi.

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