Friday, August 4, 2017

Review: The Shark Club (Audio)

Summary: A warm and wonderfully vivid novel about taking second chances—in life and in the sea

One summer day on the beach in Florida, two extraordinary things happen to Maeve Donnelly. First, she is kissed by Daniel, the boy of her dreams. Then, she is bitten by a blacktip shark.

Eighteen years later, Maeve has thrown herself into her work as a world-traveling marine biologist discovering more about the minds of misunderstood sharks. But when Maeve returns home to the legendarily charming and eccentric Hotel of the Muses where she was raised by her grandmother, she finds more than just the blood orange sunsets and key lime pies she’s missed waiting for her.

While Maeve has always been fearless in the water, on land she is indecisive. A chance meeting on the beach with a plucky, irresistible little girl who is just as fascinated by the ocean as Maeve was growing up leaves her at a crossroads: Should she re-kindle her romance with Daniel, the first love she left behind when she dove into her work? Or indulge in a new romance with her colleague, Nicholas, who turns up in her hometown to investigate an illegal shark-finning operation?

Set against the intoxicating backdrop of palm trees, calypso bands, and perfect ocean views, The Shark Club is a story of the mysterious passions of one woman’s life: her first love and new love; the sea and sharks that inhabit it. -- Penguin Audio

Just when I think I've reviewed all of my "beach books," I find another one! I know, I know -- you'd think I'd be more on top of the books I've read this summer. I have a bit of an excuse with this one because it's an audio book... so it wasn't in my need-to-be reviewed pile. The book is called THE SHARK CLUB by Ann Kidd Taylor, and it's been on almost every recommendation list for the summer.

THE SHARK CLUB is a great summer read because it primarily takes place at a beach in Florida, but it's also a fun escape read because it deals with family, love and second chances. Maeve Donnelly is a marine biologist who travels the world researching sharks. Her choice of professions is interesting, to say the least, because she was actually bit by a shark as a kid... right after she was kissed by the love of her life, Daniel.

Maeve and Daniel continued a romance for years and were even engaged to be married until they weren't. Maeve threw herself into her career, often times becoming closer to sharks than people. When Maeve returns home to her grandmother's hotel (which just happens to have a literary theme - LOVE!), she is looking forward to the comfort of her hometown; however, she quickly realizes that she can't escape her past. In fact, she actually runs into a little girl who is fascinated by the ocean and sharks only to learn that she is Daniel's daughter.

Maeve is planning to leave at the end of the summer to continue her work with sharks, but she finds herself still drawn to Daniel despite recently starting something with her co-worker Nicholas. Needless to say, she has some major decisions to make like should she try again with Daniel? Should se stay back in Florida and give up her career aspirations? Would she be happy marrying Daniel and being a mother to Hazel?

As if Maeve doesn't have enough going on with her personal life, there is also something sinister going on in this idyllic beach setting. Someone is killing tons of sharks so they can sell their fins. Naturally, Maeve is outraged and decides to investigate on her own (and with the help of Nicholas who just happens to show up) even if it means that her life is in danger!

I really enjoyed THE SHARK CLUB and it was a definitely a fun way to kill time on my morning walks and runs! The story is perfect for the summer (so hurry up and read it!), and it has just the right blend of romance and action (although it's really more about Maeve and her self-awareness journey.) I found myself really liking so many of the characters (even the secondary ones) in this novel from Maeve, to Hazel, to Nicholas, to Maeve's grandmother. And of course, I loved the hotel with all of its literary references!

I admit I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of this novel. At first glance, it kind of sounds like a chick lit book (not that there's anything wrong with that!) However, Maeve's journey in this novel is actually pretty insightful. She and her brother lost their parents at a young age, and their deaths affected each one of them very differently. In addition, Maeve's return to her home forced her to confront some unfinished business from her past. I appreciated how the author delved into her psyche and how she learned from the mistakes she made.

Another aspect of the novel that I enjoyed was the mystery surrounding who was responsible for the illegal shark finning operation. It wasn't a major storyline but it was an interesting one with a few surprises thrown in. I also liked how the author made sharks likable... and almost lovable through Maeve's voice.

As far as audio books go, I thought Emily Rankin did a great job. She totally captured the essence of Maeve which was definitely her strength, but she also did a good job with the other characters. The novel is a little under 10 hours, and I thought it flew by! And if you know me, then you know it takes me forever to read an audio book!

THE SHARK CLUB is a truly enjoyable read and I can see what it received so much praise. Highly recommended for fans of women's fiction!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this audio book.


bermudaonion said...

I can't believe I've never heard of this book - it sounds terrific! Emily Rankin is a great narrator.

Kate Unger said...

Great review. I really enjoyed this book as well. I picked it up expecting a light romance, but there was so much more packed into this book. I loved it all. It had great characters and tons of plot. The best of both worlds.