Finished January 22
The One Real Thing by Samantha Young
This novel is the first of a series, but the only one in the series that I've read. The main character here is Dr. Jessica Huntington. Jessica works as a doctor at a women's prison in Wilmington, Delaware. She works hard, and has no real life outside work. One day she comes across some letters hidden in a book in the prison library. They are all from one woman, and when she does some research, she finds the woman died just one day after the last letter was written. Jessica's only personal break is a vacation with her best friend from her childhood and his family. When he unexpectedly has to cancel, she decides to go to a nearby seaside resort town alone for a break. The same town the letters she found were addressed to. She wonders if she can find the recipient and give him the letters that never reached him.
Other than her distant friend, Jessica doesn't really let anyone into her life. Even when she has needs, her partner for sex is a man she doesn't particularly like, but who's agreeable to keeping their relationship strictly on that level.
As she gradually relaxes on her vacation, she finds the people of Hartwell friendly, and accepting of her as she is. There is one man in particular she is attracted to, Cooper Lawson, owner of a bar on the boardwalk, and the attraction appears to be mutual. But Jessica is afraid of letting people get too close, due to an incident from her past that still haunts her, and this secret may keep her from giving herself completely to her new feelings. The lesson from the letters she found is one she doesn't easily recognize.
This story goes back and forth in point of view between Jessica and Cooper as they each experience the time Jessica spends at Hartwell and their feelings and observations.
The town also has an ongoing issue with a local developer who is looking to buy up property along the boardwalk, and isn't afraid to try anything that works to get it.
As the first in this series, the book introduces a number of interesting characters that I'm sure will be developed in later books. From the shy bookstore owner to the gregarious innkeeper, they all look to have interesting stories.