The New York Times bestselling author of A Certain Age transports readers to sunny Florida in this lush and enthralling historical novel—an enchanting blend of love, suspense, betrayal, and redemption set among the rumrunners and scoundrels of Prohibition-era Cocoa Beach.
Burdened by a dark family secret, Virginia Fortescue flees her oppressive home in New York City for the battlefields of World War I France. While an ambulance driver for the Red Cross, she meets a charismatic British army surgeon whose persistent charm opens her heart to the possibility of love. As the war rages, Virginia falls into a passionate affair with the dashing Captain Simon Fitzwilliam, only to discover that his past has its own dark secrets—secrets that will damage their eventual marriage and propel her back across the Atlantic to the sister and father she left behind.
Five years later, in the early days of Prohibition, the newly widowed Virginia Fitzwilliam arrives in the tropical boomtown of Cocoa Beach, Florida, to settle her husband’s estate. Despite the evidence, Virginia does not believe Simon perished in the fire that destroyed the seaside home he built for her and their young daughter. Separated from her husband since the early days of their marriage, the headstrong Virginia plans to uncover the truth, for the sake of the daughter Simon never met.
Simon’s brother and sister welcome her with open arms and introduce her to a dazzling new world of citrus groves, white beaches, bootleggers, and Prohibition agents. But Virginia senses a predatory presence lurking beneath the irresistible, hedonistic surface of this coastal oasis. The more she learns about Simon and his mysterious business interests, the more she fears that the dangers that surrounded Simon now threaten her and their daughter’s life as well.
Praise For Cocoa Beach: A Novel…
“. . . A gripping novel of scandal and suspense. Williams is at the top of her game, crafting an engrossing beach read with enough twists and turns, action and surprises to keep anyone riveted. Florida in the summer was never more intriguing.”
— RT Book Reviews
“[Beatriz Williams is] a master of the historical fiction genre . . . COCOA BEACH is a breathtaking family drama that moves from the battlefields of World War I France to the sun-soaked beaches of Prohibition Era Florida.”
— Shelf Awareness
“If you aren’t actually traveling to Florida this summer, picking up Beatriz Williams’ latest just might be the next best thing . . . If you’re hankering for a Prohibition-era romp through Florida with a healthy dose of intrigue, look no further.”
“Williams has gained a solid reputation with readers for her gracefully written historical fiction, and COCOA BEACH is an excellent example of her ability to flawlessly marry a finely honed plot rich in unexpected twists and turns with a full cadre of richly nuanced characters, who will keep readers engaged from the book’s first page to its stunning conclusion. Readers who enjoy novels with a strong sense of place and time will especially savor William’s latest masterwork . . .”
— Reader to Reader
William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062404992, 400pp.
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
About the Author
Beatriz Williams is the bestselling author of thirteen novels, including Her Last Flight, The Summer Wives, and The Golden Hour, as well as All the Ways We Said Goodbye, cowritten with Lauren Willig and Karen White. A native of Seattle, she graduated from Stanford University and earned an MBA in finance from Columbia University. She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. At the start of the novel, Virginia reflects that “The history of the past three years is as mysterious to me as the mangroves growing on the opposite shore of the river.” Why is that? Has ignorance been bliss for Virginia?
2. What do we learn about Virginia during the flashbacks to wartime France? How does that affect the way we think of her, and Simon?
3. Were you surprised when Agent Marshall hints that Simon’s death was not “a simple act of God?” Do you think Virginia was surprised?
4. What is the meaning of the note left for Virginia at Maitland that reads Everything you seek is here? Is it reassuring? Or menacing? Who do you think left it for her?
5. Why does Virginia choose to believe what Samuel tells her about Simon? Would you have fled back to America, as she did?
6. Why does Virginia’s father send Simon money once she’s returned to New York? What effect does that have on Virginia’s relationship with her father? What does it do to her feelings for Simon?
7. What do you make of Samuel? Why do Virginia’s feelings for him seem to waver between attraction, trust, and mistrust?
8. Were you surprised to learn the truth about Clara?
9. What do you think will happen to Simon and Virginia—and their children—in the years after this novel has ended? What do you think Agent Marshall’s sudden appearance on their doorstep means for them?