COCOA BEACH

Beatriz Williams

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,

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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.

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  • William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Paperback
  • May 2018
  • 400 Pages
  • 9780062404992

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$15.99

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About Beatriz Williams

A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz Williams spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons, before her career as a writer took off. She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore.

Author Website

Praise

“Romance and mystery, war and Prohibition, infidelity and murder, inheritance and lies—the list of ingredients is long and potent in this cocktail of dramatic suspense rooted in early-20th-century Florida . . . Williams’ story, a rich brew of suspicion and intensity, also has a flavor of Daphne du Maurier, with its Cornish roots, dubious housekeeper, and embattled heroine . . . there’s no denying the author’s full-blooded commitment to her intricate edifice . . . Williams spins a good, spirited yarn.” — Kirkus

“. . . 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

Discussion Questions

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?