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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Denim Blue Sea

Publisher: Joanne Demaio
Publication Date: 3/3/2015
Format: e-book
My Rating: 5 Stars
New York Times bestselling author Joanne DeMaio returns to seaside Stony Point in this novel filled with beach friends, love, and the enchantment of a sandy boardwalk winding along the shore. During two August weeks, denim designer Maris Carrington and coastal architect Jason Barlow prepare for their much-anticipated wedding.
Guests arrive early, turning keys in charming cottage doors to begin their New England summer escape. The wedding is a reason for old friends to gather again; to meet in their shabby beach hangout and get the jukebox cranking; to walk that weathered boardwalk beneath a starry sky; to breathe the sweet salt air. "Cures what ails you," one of the friends, Neil, always said long before his life was sadly claimed. But his legacy was not. When Maris discovers Neil's long-lost journal, its passages reveal a heartbreaking secret. Can truths be found within its timeworn pages? Can this leather-bound journal unite the friends as their lives begin to fray? A bittersweet family reunion, a surprising encounter from a devastating accident, a shocking confession leaving one marriage shattered--all will test the once close-knit circle. Suddenly this safe haven on the tranquil Connecticut shoreline churns with emotional turmoil, threatening even the beach wedding just days before it is to happen. Yet like a silver cap on a breaking wave, love and friendship wash ashore with hope, ever shimmering, in The Denim Blue Sea.

My Review

A special thank you to the publisher and author for a complimentary reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

Joanne DeMaio returns to the idyllic coast, with sun-bleached shells, driftwood, and all the treasures of the sea, to catch up with familiar friends from her previous books, with her latest contemporary, THE DENIM BLUE SEA, a magical poetic book of life’s lessons, inspiration, and wisdom --- "something lovely can come from destruction."

Loss, love, pain, happiness, tears, laughter, and memories bring wisdom . . . connecting all these special friends amid the mysterious sounds of the sea.

A group of friends gather in charming Stony Point of Long Island South to celebrate the marriage of Maris and Jason, a highly creative couple; both workaholics, with challenging careers they love. However, before they get to the altar, they both have to face some major obstacles and tough choices, as well as some of the others in the wedding party. “Do you know what happens if you leave the past alone? It’ll chase you down.“

From Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans we met Maris, trading her Chicago studio for a New England shingled cottage with her successful denim design career, when she uncovered some family secrets when settling her father’s estate.

We also met Jason, guilt ridden after his brother’s death-a successful architect who returns home to this same beach town to deal with his demons, and the loss of his leg. And Eva, Maris’ oldest friend, now her sister, and other friends, Lauren and Kyle; all struggling to overcome their past, in order to move on with their futures.

As the novel opens, it is only two weeks before the big wedding of Jason and Maris. As weddings go, emotions are high, wedding guests, showers, rehearsal dinner, speeches, and much preparation. Eva and Maris have been best friends growing up together in a New England shoreline town, finding later they were sisters and now her matron of honor.

With all the excitement, Maris is busy trying to create a new denim line; struggling to find inspiration, having to spend time in New York with her company. However, when she finds Neil’s journal, she may just find her answers, to more than one problem. One secret causes even more stress for this couple, , and may jeopardize their upcoming nuptials.

Jason is stressed to the nines, as he has to face one of his biggest challenges. He has to decide if he wants to take on the renovation of the home of his worst enemy, the person who killed his brother and left him without a leg, which causes him pain every day.

Nothing will bring back Neil, his brother from an enemy he never saw coming, a car who drove straight into them one fateful day on his motorcycle. So now he is choosing a best man in Neil’s place. He still continues to talk to his brother and seeks answers to life’s stresses. Could he now be meeting this enemy face- to- face? His nightmare has returned. What would his dad or his brother say? They were the wise ones. He is left without either of them.

Could it be that the destruction that came to his life eight years ago, will lead to good? It may not be easy getting there and sometimes pride and hurt have to take a back seat, in order to experience the joy and the lesson. He is feeling the loss all over again.

Lauren and Kyle are back, having worked out some of their issues in the past; however, secrets will arise which may tear them apart, once again. Kyle always feels Neil is haunting his marriage, floating in and out of their lives like a fog, wisps of him always hovering close by. Can they move past the ghost between them?

Each character has suffered tragedy and loss, and like a pair of jeans— “Life’s been lived fully in them, with distressed marks suggesting days of walking the high tide line, of wading, of each living and breathing; leaving behind only seaside abrasion on blue denim.” However each have been given something beautiful almost as a gift, after the loss and suffering.

Wow, I bookmarked so many pages, packed with stunning poetic words, phrases, and takeaways. Each time after reading one of Joanne’s books, am left pondering, “How can the next be better than the previous?” . . . Am always amazed. Each has its own special voice, gift, and unique memorable inspiring message.

Some many loved ones have passed, and each character has their own memories from fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, past loves, friends . . . I particularly loved Neil’s journal and what he left behind through his breathtaking journal and poetic words; his lovely view of the sea as related to life, offering inspiration to Maris and Jason and comfort for others. His soul lives on through his words.

The wise words, and dog tags from Jason's father about the enemy- priceless! He recalls his dad talking about Vietnam. “No, he did not like being in the jungle waiting for the enemy, but being there taught him more about life than anything before, or after.” His words ring true when thinking of Ted, “Just because you don’t like something, doesn’t mean you don’t do it.”

Life works in mysterious ways, rich with meaning, but poignant at the same time. A journal left behind full of inspiration of the sea, almost spiritual--as it relates to life, creating something beautiful and memorable to live on.

As always, love escaping to Stony Point, where you walk along the water's edge with storybook cottages, the driftline, and sea breezes, catching up with old friends, who have felt tragedy and loss for a novel of "sea, sky, denim, love, longing, and every shade of blue."

The DENIM BLUE SEA, is not a just a feel-good fluff beach book, romance, or family drama----a literary contemporary of suspense, intrigue, and hidden secrets which come to light, lessons to be learned from experience, with stunning metaphors as life works in mysterious ways, rich with meaning, but poignant at the same time. Look forward to the next book, with Elsa’s surprise.

“Always, no matter where life takes us, no matter how far we journey, those waves forever break on the beach. Always.”

Joanne writes with passion, creativity, in an almost magical lyrical poetic prose, making the words dance, and come alive on the page. If you have not had the opportunity of reading her previous books, would highly recommend, as have read them all.

Her writing is unique, a piece of art, through her characters, a denim fashion designer, an architect, an artist, a baker, a craftsman, and others are inspired by God’s nature and beauty. A master storyteller, connecting her books, her characters, and their lives. Each can be read as a standalone; however, to get the full experience, you will want to read them all.

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About the Author

Joanne DeMaio is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. She enjoys writing about friendship, family, love and choices, while setting her stories in New England towns or by the sea. Her novels include the New York Times bestseller Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans; Whole Latte Life, a Kirkus Reviews Critics’ Pick; Snowflakes and Coffee Cakes, a USA Today bestseller; True Blend; and most recently The Denim Blue Sea.

Joanne lives with her family in Connecticut and is currently at work on her next book. Website Twitter @JoanneDeMaio






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