Andrews (The Newcomer) sparkles in this fast-paced tale of a reluctant TV star, a driven producer, and a long-dormant mystery on the Georgia coast. Widowed contractor Hattie Kavanaugh is in the middle of a plumbing disaster at the historic Savannah house she’s trying to flip when Mo Lopez, who creates reality shows for an HGTV-type network, stops by to pitch a show involving her project (“You’re passionate. You’re smart. You’ve got attitude.... And it doesn’t hurt that you’re damned attractive. The camera is going to love you,” he tells her). At first, Hattie wants nothing to do with it, but she reconsiders due to her bleak financial situation. She then purchases another fixer-upper, this one on nearby Tybee Island, and as she gets going on the demo work, with Mo and his camera crew at her side, she discovers in a wall a wallet that belonged to Lanier Ragan, her high school English teacher who went missing 17 years earlier. As she uncovers more clues about Lanier, it seems someone might be willing to kill to keep the house’s secrets. The author skillfully navigates the various threads—there’s sexual tension between Hattie and a slew of suitors, and a twisty third act involving Lanier’s fate. Andrews’s fans will eat this up. (May)
From the Publisher
“Mary Kay Andrews is the queen of beach reads. This one combines our love of romance, HGTV shows, and murder mysteries. What more could you want?” CountryLiving.com
"Andrews' latest, after The Newcomer (2021), is a frothy combination of a hectic old-house-renovation story and a cozy mystery with a hint of romance centered around a likable heroine who has been holding too many feelings at bay. A perfect summer escape." Booklist
"Andrews (The Newcomer) sparkles in this fast-paced tale. Andrews’s fans will eat this up." Publishers Weekly
"A fun story with twists and turns that will appeal to romantics and cold-case fans alike." Kirkus
“Mary Kay Andrews has done it again” Mystery & Suspense
“Seamlessly combines romance and mystery” PopSugar
“Imagine if HGTV and a murder mystery met, fell in love and unexpectedly produced a rom-com.” E! Online
"Bestselling author Mary Kay Andrews has penned 26 novels with heartfelt plots and her latest follows suit." Woman's World
“Oh, just bring us the beach chair and fancy umbrella drink now. We’re in.” CNN.com
This latest from Andrews (The Santa Suit; The Newcomer) is a beach read about house-flipping in Savannah, GA. Hattie grew up fast in a tough home environment, married Hank Kavanaugh at 18, and is widowed by 25, having spent her entire adult life working with her husband at Kavanaugh and Sons Restorations in Savannah. Determined to keep going after Hank's death, she tries to flip a crumbling beach house, but it turns into a financial disaster that might cause her to lose her own home. When a producer named Mo overhears Hattie talking about flipping houses, he's inspired to create a reality TV show about Hattie's work restoring this money pit of a beach house. Hattie signs on to the show, seeing it as her only chance to move forward. On the show, alongside male costar Trae, Hattie tries to resolve the house's dry rot and plumbing while Mo and Trae both find themselves becoming attracted to Hattie. Then an item belonging to a long-missing woman is found among the house's ruins. Cue the interest of a retired detective and an unfolding of a mystery that the house left behind. VERDICT Though it takes a little bit to get going, Andrews's new beach read ticks off multiple boxes including romance, forgiveness, mystery, and loss. Recommended for most collections.—Brooke Bolton
A young Georgia widow flips a historic house and finds evidence of a long-missing woman while developing a growing attraction for a co-worker.
Hattie Kavanaugh married her high school sweetheart and lost him to a motorcycle accident after just a few years of marriage. Almost seven years on, she’s still living in her unfinished bungalow renovation near Savannah, grieving her husband, Hank, and flipping houses with his dad, Tug; her best friend, Cassidy Pelletier; and Cass’ mother, Zenobia. After a disastrous flip where Hattie loses all her savings on a gorgeous—but dilapidated—157-year-old home, Hattie decides to take an offer to star in a Home Place Television Network production with Cass that will bring in a steady paycheck as she works on her next flip and tries to earn back the money she’s lost. The catch—which she doesn’t know but her producer, Mo Lopez, does—is that the show she signed on for has changed in concept from a straight house-flipping show to a house-flip–meets–dating-show, where the goal is for the handsome designer, Trae Bartholomew, to seduce her over the course of the series. Hattie digs deep to fund the flip, pawning her engagement ring and taking a loan from her father, a wealthy ex-felon who has served time in prison for embezzlement. Author Andrews has packed a lot into this story: Not only is there drama from the reality show and Hattie’s growing attraction to a co-worker, but 17 years earlier beloved local schoolteacher Lanier Ragan went missing, and the story follows both the renovation of the long-abandoned beach home Hattie buys and the discovery of evidence in the cold case of the teacher’s disappearance.
A fun story with twists and turns that will appeal to romantics and cold-case fans alike.