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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Brighter the Light

ISBN: 978-1542032599

Publisher: Montlake

Publication Date: 07/01/2022

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars +

June Kindle First Pick

From the bestselling author of Honeysuckle Season comes an evocative dual-timeline novel detailing one woman’s journey to discover the hidden stories of her family’s seaside resort.

When a shipwreck surfaces, old secrets are sure to follow.

Or so goes the lore in Ivy Neale’s hometown of Nags Head, North Carolina. When Ivy inherits her family’s beachfront cottage upon her grandmother’s death, she knows returning to Nags Head means facing the best friend and the boyfriend who betrayed her years ago.

But then a winter gale uncovers the shipwreck of local legend—and Ivy soon begins to stumble across more skeletons in the closet than just her own. Amid the cottage’s clutter are clues from her grandmother’s past at the enchanting seaside resort her family once owned. One fateful summer in 1950, the arrival of a dazzling singer shook the staff and guests alike—and not everyone made it to fall.

As Ivy contends with broken relationships and a burgeoning romance in the present, the past threatens to sweep her away. But as she uncovers the strength of her grandmother and the women who came before her, she realizes she is like the legendary shipwreck: the sands may shift around her, but she has found her home here by the sea.

From the Publisher

Shipwrecks are fascinating things—tragedies and secrets long-held and hidden below the surface of the water, they rest. As the wooden frames rot and wear away, changed beneath the unrelenting ocean, they provide a foundation for new life, new growth, new ecosystems. And as the tides and the wind have the ability to keep things hidden, they also possess the power to push them to the surface, years later, exposing what has been there all along but no one could see.

Mary Ellen Taylor’s The Brighter the Light depicts the tragedies, secrets, and triumphs across three generations of women in a coastal town in North Carolina. The captivating dual timelines—from present day to one summer in the 1950s—capture in vivid Technicolor the sweltering, sun-soaked summers at the shore. The enchanting songs, red lipsticks, crisp linen dresses, hot sandy beaches, and the sacrifices mothers will make for their daughters. A hurricane churning up the coast whips up sand, water, and secrets, and like the shipwreck just offshore, old events are revealed and cast in bright new light.

Grab a beach towel, a park bench, or a cozy armchair—wherever you’ll be most comfortable—and prepare to be transported and transfixed by Mary Ellen Taylor’s sweeping tale of love, sacrifice, and seaside reverie.

—Alison Dasho, Editor

My Review

New York Times bestselling southern author delights with this captivating summertime escape set in Nags Head, NC where a woman searches for clues to her family's hidden past.

THE BRIGHTER THE LIGHT is luminous, evocative, and full of hidden secrets of the past to sweep you away. MET's books continue to draw you in with delectable delights, well-developed characters, and vivid settings that will warm your heart. I resonated with Ruth going back to my teen years, and this one checked all the boxes for me, exceeding all expectations.

What is NOT to LOVE? You will savor and treasure this one.

Nags Head, North Carolina 1950s, dual timelines, with nostalgic summer vacations, shipwrecks, and mysteries of the past. A story of strong independent women, mothers, daughters, sisters, and female friendships with a bit of romance. I am a gal from the 50s and I was in heaven reading this beautifully rendered and thought-provoking tale of love, forgiveness, and sacrifice.

In depression-era families, our parents and grandparent notoriously kept things close to their belts and were avid secret keepers. They were also keepers of special things. Typically, they will die, taking their secrets with them and the families have no clue often about the juicy secrets or their scandalous intriguing pasts.

Ruth Wheeler grew up working at her parents' Seaside Resort in Nags Head in the 1950s. Her parents, Edna and Jake, were forthcoming as they could be when some woman had delivered a baby at the resort, and they adopted her.

So who is the biological mom?

Ruth had a burning desire to know more about each woman who came to the resort year after year—could this be her mom? She and her cousin, Talley visiting for the summer from Asheville, NC loved working there and visiting with the enigmatic beautiful cruise singer, Carlotta who happened to stay at the resort and she dreamed this may be her mom.

Ivy, Ruth's granddaughter, grew up working in the resort and left for New York after school and has been a successful chef in New York. She now has inherited the cottage after Ruth's death. She left her two best friends to start a life in New York and things were not left on the best of terms.

She returns to clean out the house and prepares to sell it to get on with her future. However, when emptying out the house she discovers an old camera, photos that had been taken, and that Ruth was a talented artist, plus many more hidden secrets. Did she really know her grandmother?

In her quest to learn more about her grandmother, she uncovers people that were important to her grandmother. She also mends some fences with her past friends, the possibility of a new career and life, and develops a romance/friendship with an old friend.

How far will we go to protect those we love?

Told from a twelve-year-old Ruth and current-day Ivy's perspectives, we learn about actual events from the summer of 1950 that significantly impacted Ivy's life. From legendary fascinating shipwrecks, hurricanes, ghosts from the past, and intriguing summer people with secrets— a story of family, the importance of home, and the ties that bind.

This magical tale captures the women's resilience and hopeful desire for new beginnings.

Taylor's moving tale is a love letter to Nags Head and the coastal Carolina summers, past and present. I LOVED IT! This perfect beach read escape will transcend you—an ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions.

For fans of authors— Viola Shipman, Mary Kay Andrews, Kristy Woodson Harvey, Dorothea Benton Frank, Mary Alice Monroe, Karen White, and Wendy Wax. I enjoyed the family tree diagram at the end of the book.

A long-time fan of this incredibly talented southern storyteller, Mary Ellen Taylor, and one of my favorite authors, I have read all her books under MET and most of the thriller suspense books under her Mary Burton title. Every book is top-notch.

When I saw this stunning cover and book description, I knew I must pre-order this treasure. I was so pleased to find it on Amazon First Reads that I immediately grabbed it and stopped reading my current read. I was delighted not to have to wait until July 1 to read.

A Must Read! If you have not read her books, you are missing out! If you like thrillers, look for Mary Burton's The Lies I Told, coming August 2, 2022.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: July 1, 2022

My Rating: 5 STARS

About the Author


A southerner by birth, Mary Ellen Taylor’s love of her home state, Virginia, is evident in her contemporary women’s fiction, including Winter Cottage , Spring House and her latest Honeysuckle Season and her latest The Words We Whisper. She’s also celebrated the city of Alexandria and its storied history in her books The Union Street Bakery, Sweet Expectations, At the Corner of King Street and The View from Prince Street.

As do so many people, her protagonists search for their place in the world, exploring issues of family, home, love and belonging. Inevitably, Mary Ellen’s stories entwine with those of the places in which they’re set, and the mysteries at their core span past and present.

Mary Ellen is also known nationally as New York Times and USA Today bestselling suspense novelist Mary Burton. Together, they have published forty-five novels and five novellas. Mary Burton’s latest, Near You, debuts April 2021.

When not traveling or holed up writing, Mary Ellen spends time with her husband enjoying their empty nest and spoiling their miniature dachshunds, Buddy, Bella and Tiki. WEBSITE

Mary Ellen Taylor Books

Click Here for Mary Burton Novels







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