On Sunset Beach (Chesapeake Diaries Series #8)

On Sunset Beach (Chesapeake Diaries Series #8)

4.3 23
by Mariah Stewart

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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…  See more details below



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

From the Paperback edition.

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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

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Chesapeake Diaries Series , #8
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Random House
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File size:
3 MB

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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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On Sunset Beach 4.3 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 23 reviews.
Annie97 More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this story very much. An easy read, interesting story. Looking forward to Dan's story next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
Looking for a great summer novel to take with you to the beach? Look no further than On Sunset Beach by Mariah Stewart. This is the 8th book in the series and I have read every single one of them so I truly feel like a resident of St. Dennis, the beachside community on the Chesapeake Bay where all these novels take place. Along the way, we get to meet a couple, sometimes they are residents of St. Dennis or simply have found themselves there by fate, but whatever the reason, love and romance always ensue and most of the time, even a marriage or two. Ford Sinclair is finally making his way home after working in Africa as part of a black ops security team helping to protect the UN Peacekeepers that serve in the country riddle by terrorists, a corrupt government and groups wanting to take over the towns one by one. His family doesn't know that's where he has been all these years, instead they believe he is a UN Peacekeeper instead. He believes it will keep his mother from spending countless hours worrying about his safety and whether or not he will make it home. But when all the troops are called out, Ford heads to his childhood home and a family reunion he's a bit apprehensive to take part in. Carly Summit has been waiting for the gallery opening of the life time, being a huge successful multi art gallery owner with locations quite literally all over the world. She has the uncanny ability to locate new talent who become the next big thing in the art world only by her ability to truly care for the artists themselves and it is something they don't forget when they make it big in the art world. Now she has found the perfect gallery showing with a little known artist, Carolina Ellis, from St. Dennis for her next exhibit in Manhattan. Taking a lost collection recovered in the attic of her home and the diaries that told how she struggled to share her passion of art with the world against her husband's wishes, she painted in secret and gave most of them away. Now she hopes she can piece together enough of her life story to accompany her artwork to help her family back in St. Dennis should they ever want to part with her any of her paintings. But when her plans hit an unexpected wall, she may have to move her gallery exhibition to the small town of St. Dennis if she hopes to show the paintings. I received On Sunset Beach by Mariah Stewart compliments of Ballantine Books for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for an honest review except for a complimentary copy of the novel. The opinions expressed here are strictly my own. This is such an exceptional novel that compliments the entire series and once again introduces us to Ford Sinclair and his long awaited homecoming especially for his mother. If you know the series, the romance is never easy and doesn't fall right into their laps, which is what I love about this series. They evolve like real life does, they are believable and because I am a romantic at heart, and a beach lover, these ones really appeal to me. The best part about the series, is even though they are written in order, it doesn't take away from the novel if you happen to pick them up out of sequence but trust me if you grab this one as your first, you will definitely want to go back to the beginning and read it from the first novel. Well worth every single 5 out of 5 stars and I can't wait for her next novel in the series due out very soon!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PaperbackBookClub More than 1 year ago
Ok, so, this book. After reading too much bad erotica, I decided I’d go the other direction and try to soothe my overloaded senses with some wholesome, small town, cozy romance. And that is exactly what Mariah Stewart delivered. Here’s the thing, I’ve never read a Mariah Stewart novel, but I know she writes a lot of them and that they’re pretty popular. I guess what I hadn’t been prepared for was how much out of my wheelhouse this book would be. The basic story is that Ford comes back from working for the military in Africa. He’s seen the woman he was in love with shot to death, and returns to his family’s inn on St. Dennis on the Chesapeake Bay (I’ve looked it up, I don’t think this place actually exists, but I’d love to know for sure). Carly Summit is a privileged international art gallery owner and investor, because those are super common these days, who is in St. Dennis to show the paintings of a long-deceased St. Dennis artist. They meet at a party, and seem to like each other, then Ford conveniently has to interview her for his family-run newspaper, and they form a relationship. It all unfolds kind of slowly and without any real sort of honest emotional connection. I think this kind of romance novel is definitely for an older age group, even though the characters are in my age group – late 20’s/early 30’s. In general, even though I got a warm and welcoming feel from the supporting characters, and the descriptions of the St. Dennis community at large, it didn’t stop me from being just a little bored. The book just lacked sparkle, and a sense of urgency from the characters that would lend some dimension to their love story. I also didn’t think the characters were all that developed and their whole personalities seemed to hinge on one trait, making them somewhat generic and uninteresting. The dialogue was clunky, and oftentimes much of what was said by a character was said again in the next sentence, only in a different way, and not much of it sounded how people would actually talk in the first place. There was also a kind of embarrassing misuse of slang wherein the author used the already anachronistic, “Oh, snap,” when one of the characters can’t recall the location of her keys. Sorry, folks, but that’s not how “oh, snap” works. I don’t mean to be a bummer about this book because I think it has a good heart, and as I’ve said, the author writes and sells a lot of books, so maybe I’m way out in left field. The book was a gentle balm for an overactive mind, and kind of took me to a place where people sit on their porch all day and drink lemonade, but I couldn’t help but get a little bored. Maybe that’s my own fault though, maybe I now expect every couple to engage in snappy banter and sexually heightened interludes, and need to make more room for the ordinary, but then again, isn’t that the reason I read romance novels in the first place?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To mac1202: can i have your email? To adelade: yes i think so. I haven't found a website i couldn't go on. Well except game sites of course.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome that is all I can say when I read  The Chesapeake Diaries Series. I really hope the series  continues.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this is a very easy read however it is very slow and the characters are not developed much. Story at a 1/4 of the way still hadn't picked up the pace. Instead of racing home to read it is something you pick up to get to sleep.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mariah really brought the characters to life for me. I loved Ford and Carly's tale.
vette01 More than 1 year ago
I enjoy her series but I do wish she would go back to the mystery novels she used to write.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
dreamkeeper More than 1 year ago
I am completely hooked on this fantastic series! I feel like I know these people and the town. The writing is excellent, the characters well developed. Like visiting with old friends and each book makes me feel like I've been there. I highly recommend this series!
mary29oh More than 1 year ago
I was a little disappointed in this book. I initially loved the series and have read it twice. But this last book was rather dull and focused entirely to much on all the prep work of what it takes to open and run an art gallery. It was the same thing over and over just worded a little different each time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great read The characters are easy to like and the story moves well This ia a great beach read
usmc_brat More than 1 year ago
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.
My_Peace More than 1 year ago
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.
Bette313 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
quaintinns More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Miss me? Bet u did!!!!