On Sunset Beach (Chesapeake Diaries Series #8)

( 7 )



From Mariah Stewart comes a captivating and heartwarming new novel in her beloved Chesapeake Diaries contemporary romance series—perfect for fans of Barbara Freethy, Robyn Carr, and Susan Mallery.
Carly Summit’s name couldn’t be more fitting, since in life she always lands on top. She grew up wealthy and privileged in a tony Connecticut town, opened her own gallery in...

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On Sunset Beach: The Chesapeake Diaries

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From Mariah Stewart comes a captivating and heartwarming new novel in her beloved Chesapeake Diaries contemporary romance series—perfect for fans of Barbara Freethy, Robyn Carr, and Susan Mallery.
Carly Summit’s name couldn’t be more fitting, since in life she always lands on top. She grew up wealthy and privileged in a tony Connecticut town, opened her own gallery in New York City, and is about to make art world history displaying previously unknown works by a prominent twentieth-century painter. No wonder she possesses a can-do attitude that can’t be soured. Ford Sinclair is another story. A military career in war-torn Africa, where he witnessed unspeakable violence and suffering, has left him haunted and deeply cynical. Now he’s looking for a way to forget and a place to belong. He hopes to find both back home in St. Dennis.
When Carly is forced to move the premiere of her new exhibit from her Manhattan gallery to St. Dennis, and Ford agrees to temporarily take over the town’s paper, the two cross paths. While Ford is confounded by Carly’s unflappable good cheer, he can’t help being drawn to her. And undaunted by Ford’s restless heart, Carly sees a man worth caring for. But when a late-night phone call sends Ford back to Africa, Carly’s left to wonder if the pull of the past and its ghosts will prove stronger than the promise of their future together.
Advance praise for On Sunset Beach
“Mariah Stewart’s rich characterization, charming setting, and a romance you’ll never forget will have you packing your bags for St. Dennis.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Advance praise for On Sunset Beach
“Mariah Stewart’s rich characterization, charming setting, and a romance you’ll never forget will have you packing your bags for St. Dennis.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345538437
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/1/2014
  • Series: Chesapeake Diaries Series , #8
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 19,219
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Mariah Stewart

Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and their dogs amid the rolling hills and Amish farms of southern Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she gardens, reads, and enjoys country life.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

I spent much of today contemplating ways to kill my husband.

“Whoa! Way to kick off a new year!” Carly Summit’s eyebrows rose as she read the entry dated 1 January, 1905, in the journal she’d received in the mail that afternoon.

If James continues to deny me my artistic pursuits—-as he so arrogantly professes he will do—- I shall be forced to do something . . . well, something dire. While he voiced no such misgivings before we were married, suddenly he fears that the reputation of an up—and—coming banker (such as himself) would be tainted should his wife accept money for her work. Have I not promised to never use my married name on my work, that the RYDER name would remain pure and unsullied by my craft? Is the man really so simpleminded that he believes an ultimatum such as the one he issued at dinner would have me put down my brushes and destroy my canvases? Is his ego truly so fragile that he fears societal censure should I accept payment for my paintings? Can he really expect me to choose him over my work?

Had I suspected his narrow—mindedness before the wedding, I swear this marriage would never have happened. As it is, I shall simply ignore him.

Hmm. My work . . . his life.

Sometimes I think the choice is simple enough.

Carly sighed heavily and jotted the date and the sentiment in the notebook she kept by her side. As an art dealer and owner of upscale galleries in New York, Boston, and Chicago, and managing partner of several abroad, she was well familiar with stories of women who had been discouraged or even forbidden to pursue their art. But Carolina Ellis’s story was more immediate and more intimate, partly because Carly was reading the story in its entirety in the artist’s own words, partly because the artist was the great—great—grandmother of Carly’s best friend, Ellie Ryder, and partly because Carly had recently discovered a cache of previously unknown works by this remarkable early—twentieth—century artist.

Carly had spent days examining each individual painting, but it had been through studying the collection as a whole that she was able to follow the artist’s journey. Carolina’s own words had opened a window into her very soul, a window through which Carly had been able to observe the artist’s growth as she experimented with different media while seeking to gain her creative footing. Starting with pastels, Carolina moved on to charcoal (which she’d pronounced “too moody”), then to watercolor, to oils, then back to watercolor again, where, her journal proclaimed, she’d found her best, most expressive self. Using the journals and the paintings that were available to her, Carly had created an artistic time line that permitted her to trace the progression and development of Carolina’s talent and ambitions. By putting the works in order—-only some of the paintings had been dated—-Carly felt as if she had been able to look over the artist’s shoulder to watch as different methods, media, and techniques were tried and discarded, until Carolina’s craft had been perfected.

Had there ever been such a find?

And the coolest part, as far as Carly was concerned, was that no one else knew the paintings—-or the journals—-existed.

Well, no one other than herself and Ellie. Okay, add Ellie’s fiancé, Cameron O’Connor, but he wouldn’t tell anyone. And Carly’s parents—-there was no way she’d be able to keep such momentous news from them, but she’d sworn them to secrecy. But no one else knew about the extraordinary find Carly had made while visiting the house Ellie inherited from her mother in St. Dennis, Maryland. There, Carolina had met and married James Ryder, raised their two children, John and Lilly, and scandalously defied her husband’s wishes by setting up an artist’s studio on the third floor of their home on the Chesapeake Bay, where she spent part of every day working at her easel.

Carly rested her elbows on the desk and continued reading.

“Amazing,” she muttered as she read on. “That this woman was able to produce such works while under this sort of domestic strain . . .”

She reached for the phone somewhat absently when it rang.

“Yes?” she said.

“That’s how you answer your phone now?” a familiar voice teased. “ ‘Yes?’ ”

“Oh, Mom. Hi. Sorry. I was deep into one of Carolina’s journals that just arrived this afternoon. Ellie found a box in the attic that held a few more and she sent them to me. My head is absolutely spinning.”

“Lots of fodder for your book, I imagine.” Roberta Summit was almost as fascinated by the Carolina Ellis story as her daughter. “I can’t wait for you to finish Carolina’s biography. Remember, you did promise that I could be your beta—reader.”

“Yes, but I need you to be brutally honest.”

“Not to worry. What kind of an editor would I be if I only told you what I thought you wanted to hear?”

Carly paused momentarily. Should she tell her mother that she’d hired a professional editor for her book, one who was already hard at work on the first half of the manuscript? Perhaps not. Roberta was so pleased at the opportunity to be helpful, to contribute to her daughter’s work. Carly decided to keep that fact to herself.

“I can email you the first half and you can let me know what you think of it so far, if you like.”

“Yes. Please. I can’t wait to read it.”

Carly opened her computer and attached the file to an email, which she addressed to her mother.

“It’s on its way, Mom. I want this book to be fabulous and to generate a ton of interest in Carolina so that when I open my exhibit, people will stand in line for the opportunity to see her work.” Carly straightened her spine to get the kinks out, then walked to the window. Outside all was dark. When, she wondered, had day turned to evening?

“The art world will be turned on its head when you announce what you’ve found. These paintings will create an absolutely deafening roar,” Roberta assured her. “After all, no one has any idea that these works even exist.”

“Every time I think about that, my brain threatens to explode. I can barely sit still long enough to write sometimes.”

“I can only imagine what it’s like to have made a find like this, and to have it all to yourself. Bless Ellie for trusting you enough to turn the entire project over to you, no strings. Of course, you were a good friend to her throughout all her troubles.”

“We’ve been best friends since sixth grade,” Carly reminded her mother. “The fact that her father was a crook is no reflection on her.”

“I absolutely agree, and you know we love Ellie. But the fact of the matter is that you stood by her when everyone else she knew walked away.”

“That’s what best friends do. Ellie’s at a very happy place in her life right now. Engaged to Cameron, living in that wonderful old house in St. Dennis—-and she’s learned a whole new skill set from Cameron. She can strip wallpaper and sling a hammer with the best of them now.”

“Whoever would have thought that the daughter of a Wall Street giant and one of the world’s first supermodels would end up working as a carpenter in some little bayside town on the Chesapeake?” Roberta mused.

“I know, right? But she’s doing exactly what she wants to do. If you could see how happy she is, you’d understand.”

“I’d love to see her and meet this wonderful man of hers.”

“Cam’s the best. Maybe you can visit sometime when I go to St. Dennis. And not to worry about that little bayside town. It’s quite the place. You should look it up on the Web,” Carly suggested.

“I think I’ll do exactly that. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it myself.”

“So when will you be home?” Carly asked.

“Your father still has some business here in Portland,” Roberta told her. “He’s personally been supervising the design of the new plant Summit Industries is building. You know how he is about the safety of his employees.”

“I do know. Everyone should be held to his standards.” Patrick Summit was well known for his progressive efforts in plant safety and employee welfare.

“How’s everything back in Connecticut?”

“Everything’s good. I appreciate you letting me move all those paintings into your house.”

“Don’t be silly. It’s your family home. You—-and your paintings—-are welcome anytime. Stay as long as you like.”

“Normally I would stay at my own place, but your security here is so superior to what I have at the town house. I think the paintings are safer here.”

“No need to explain. Though it does have me wondering just how good the security at your town house really is . . .”

They chatted for a few more minutes before Roberta said, “I should let you get back to your work. I know you’re eager to finish your book and start putting your exhibit together.”

“I know exactly where every painting will go. Well, at least until I change my mind again.”

“You’re still planning on debuting the collection in your New York gallery?”

“Absolutely. New York is the hub of the art world. I can’t imagine doing this anywhere else.”

“What about the other galleries? Who’s minding the store while you’re so focused on this one artist?”

“You know I have great people working for me. Enrico is running New York, Helena is running Boston, and Colby has Chicago under control. London is still closed temporarily while they’re making the repairs from that storm last month, but I’m seriously considering selling my interests in London and Istanbul. I’ve had long—standing offers on both, and I think it’s time to divest.”

“Are you sure that you want to close yourself off from the European market?” Ellie could hear the frown in her mother’s voice.

“I won’t be. Isabella is capable of handling London on her own. Though she’s made me an offer for my half, and I’m strongly considering it.”

“Do you need the money?”

“I need the time more than the money. As much as it pains me to admit it, I’ve realized that I’ve spread myself too thin. I’m finding that my focus is beginning to narrow—-I’m more interested in providing a showcase for women artists. Besides, I don’t feel that I need to prove myself anymore, not the way I did when I purchased those venues. I’ve made my name.”

“That you have. I’m sure you’ll make the right decision. Well, good luck with it all. I see your email is here. I’m hanging up so I can start reading immediately.”

“Let me know what you think as soon as you’ve finished it. Love you. Love to Dad.”

Carly stood and stretched after disconnecting the call. An unexpected yawn brought on an inner debate over whether or not to make a cup of coffee. Caffeine at this hour could keep her awake till dawn. On the other hand, she reasoned, she’d probably be reading till the wee hours anyway. She made the coffee and carried the mug back to her desk, then settled in and resumed reading.

She was halfway through one of Carolina’s journals when she came across a loose piece of folded paper. Curious, she unfolded it, read it, then reread it, then read it again.

“Holy shit. Could this even be possible?”

Her heart beating faster, her hands shaking, she reached for the phone and speed—dialed Ellie’s number.

“Ellie, there are more,” she said breathlessly when her friend answered. “She says there are more.”

Ellie laughed. “Who said there’s more of what?”

“Carolina. She made a list—-”

“Whoa. Slow down. Take a deep breath and start over.”

Carly inhaled sharply, exhaled, then repeated the process.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 9, 2014

    Enjoyed this story very much. An easy read, interesting story.

    Enjoyed this story very much. An easy read, interesting story. Looking forward to Dan's story next.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2014


    I hope there will be more books to this series! Absolutely love the way Mariah Stewert captures each story and brings life to St. Dennis.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2014

    Nook book version would not load on my Simple Touch reader.....

    Nook book version would not load on my Simple Touch reader..... I had to use the Nook App on my IPad to read. It was a pleasant read, and look forward to the next installment.

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  • Posted July 1, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    In On Sunset Beach (Chesapeake Diaries #8) by Mariah Stewart, Ca

    In On Sunset Beach (Chesapeake Diaries #8) by Mariah Stewart, Carly is working on a project that will thrill the art world and finally prove that she deserves to be where she is today.  Growing up with it all, Carly has worked hard to be successful on her own.  A splashy debut in one of Carly's galleries of previously unknown artwork of a famous painter from St. Dennis, along with a book Carly is writing about the painter, will demonstrate how far Carly has come on her own. 

    In St. Dennis, Ford Sinclair is finally home again after 7 years away with the military.  He's been places and saw things most people don't see even in their worst nightmares, and he is having a hard time knowing where he belongs now, what he should do, how to fit back into civilian life.

    When Carly ends up bringing her exhibit to St. Dennis, it is inevitable for numerous reasons that she will meet up with Ford.  When she firsts meets him at his mother's Inn, not knowing who he is she is drawn to him...to his eyes, to his touch.  Neither of them are looking for relationships or forever...Carly is only in St. Dennis temporary, and Ford is home, but he doesn't know if it's for good.  But the attraction is strong, and as Ford is slowly drawn into more and more in St. Dennis, he is drawn more and more to Carly.  They start a slowly growing, open and honest relationship, one that gives them both hope for a future.  Ford has finally found someone he can just be with and talk to, but is it enough to move him away from his past to a brighter future?

    Mariah gives us another great story in On Sunset Beach.  I love that characters we've met in previous books are woven into the story line well enough to catch up with, but at the same time if you haven't met them in previous books you won't feel like you're missing anything.  The Chesapeake stories are interlinked but completely separate stories.  I really enjoy Grace's (Ford's mother) diary entries inserted in various spots of On Sunset Beach, they give a whole other perspective to the story outside of Ford and Carly's.

    The main characters, Carly and Ford are both mature and strong.  Carly is where she wants to be in her life, she's happy and positive.  Ford is still finding where he should be after the military.  I loved Mariah's descriptions of him in his kayak on the water...I could feel myself there too!  This is where Ford does a lot of thinking and where we share Ford's memories and insights as well as his struggles.  Mariah brings you right to his special place with him.  I liked how Mariah didn't have to go into a lot of detail about what Ford's been through, but she manages to still evoke the images and feelings.  Mariah brings Ford and Carly together very well.  The spark is there, but they are slow to get things moving, and this felt very real.  They felt real, and the relationship believable.

    Mariah gives a great small town feel in On Sunset Beach.  It is a well written and paced story that entrances and gives your heart hope and happiness.  I'd recommend this to contemporary romance readers.

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  • Posted July 1, 2014

    Another great installment in the Chesapeake Diaries series. Fin

    Another great installment in the Chesapeake Diaries series. Finally Grace's wandering son Ford is home and it would appear just in time. After Grace suffers a mishap, Ford finds himself filling in for her at the newspaper. Carly Summit is in St. Denis to get the art gallery up and running and for the showing of her life. Can the magic of St Denis work on this very unlikely pair? As always this is a wonderfully written story with all the familiar characters we have come to love. This is definitely a recommended read.

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  • Posted March 16, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Quaint Town with romance, culture, and charm!

    Having read all the Chesapeake Diaries Series by Mariah Stewart, always look forward to catching up with Grace (who knows all there is to know about everyone in town), other favorites, and the charming quaint town of St. Dennis, for #8, “On Sunset Beach.”

    Grace starts out her diary entry, excited about her son Ford making his way back to Virginia to meet with someone, after being away with his military career in Africa, who is still having issues with his haunted experience and needless to say, he is looking for a hideaway to escape, not to be charming.

    Of course, there is always so many people which come from the big city to this small quaint town (wow, they attract some talent here). The main character, being Carly (a friend of Ellie-from “The Long Way Home”) who owns an art gallery in New York, and will be displaying previously unknown works by a prominent 21st century painter. However, she is not thrilled when she has to move the premier of her new exhibition from Manhattan to St. Dennis.

    Of course, Ford is helping out with the newspaper and has to interview Carly and the two definitely do not hit it off in the beginning. Ford sees her charm and outgoing nature, and of course he has no personality, yet Carly finds a way to dig beyond the rough exterior to warm his heart.

    A light heartwarming beach read - I would recommend to fans of Debbie Macomber, Sherryl Woods, and Susan Mallery. Each book can be a standalone within the Chesapeake Diaries’ series; however, nice to read them all and catch up with a few of the longtime residents such as the famous Dallas, Clay/Lucy, Dan, etc.

    As usual, Grace always ends with her famous diary entry, recapping the town’s progress, and the gossip of family and friends, as well as future plans, hopes and dreams --until next time.

    A special Thank you to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine Books and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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