Books

S.C. author releases final book in ‘Lowcountry’ series on May 3

Reading the fourth novel in a series when you haven’t read the first three probably is inadvisable.

Reviewing the fourth novel in a series when you haven’t read the first three probably shouldn’t even be attempted.

Yet here I go.

The good news is, Mary Alice Monroe has so found her novel-writing niche and knows her readers so well that the fourth novel in her Lowcountry Summer series “A Lowcountry Wedding” could very well stand alone without the three novels that precede it. I’m sure the same could also be said about those three novels, “The Summer’s End” (2013) “The Summer Wind” (2014) and “The Summer Girls” (2015).

“A Lowcountry Wedding” hits a bookshelf near you on May 3 (Gallery Books, $16). Just in time for you to start looking for the perfect beach read. (I told you that Monroe knows her readers well.)

I was a little worried when I started reading that I wasn’t going to know enough about the characters’ back stories since I hadn’t read the first three novels. I needn’t have worried. Monroe weaves in said back stories throughout the entirety of “A Lowcountry Wedding.” I actually found myself enjoying getting to know each of the characters slowly and over time. It helped reveal their layers and complexities, a quality not all summer reads possess.

There is a character for everyone in this novel, and pretty much a wedding for everyone, as well. Two of the three “summer girls” are planning their weddings to take place on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, a day apart. Harper is the organized “bridezilla”; Carson doesn’t care about the details … probably because she isn’t sure about the wedding itself.

Then there is newly divorced Dora trying to get her life together, and the girls’ grandmother Marietta, who just couldn’t be happier than to see her summer girls settling down.

The women are definitely the lead characters in this drama, with their significant others playing the roles we’d all like our men to play: handsome, strong and so in love they’re willing to do anything.

Seriously, anything. Like sign a pre-nup or live apart for months on end or stick around through an addiction recovery program.

There is a wrench thrown into that archetype, however. Enter Atticus Green (also handsome and strong), who shows up on Sullivan’s Island mere months before the weddings with a secret that has the power to wreak havoc on the family life.

I’m not going to give away a major plot point, you’ll just have to find out for yourselves. I promise it won’t take you long (summer reads never do) but you’ll probably enjoy it. Everything ties up nicely at the end (perhaps a little too nicely for my taste) but I don’t begrudge it that, and neither will you.

In fact, without even having read the first three novels, I’d recommend if you haven’t either, that you do so and make this summer your Lowcountry summer with Mary Alice Monroe and her fictional Muir family.

Monroe has written more than 20 novels, non-fiction works and children’s books. She has been awarded the S.C. Center for the Book Award for Fiction and the International Book Award for Green Fiction. She works with several environmentalist groups, including the South Carolina Aquarium and Charleston Volunteers for Literacy. Visit www.maryalicemonroe.com for more information, as well as details on a dream wedding giveaway she’s offering as part of the release of “A Lowcountry Wedding.”

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