Bookshop by the Sea
Since their father deserted them seven years ago, Sophie Lawson has given her life to her family—especially to her siblings, twin brother Seth, and younger sister Jenna—and their mother ill with multiple sclerosis. Planning to attend Duke University, which was always her dream, Sophie puts her life on hold, refusing to abandon her family.
Her mother soon passes away leaving Sophie to care for the household and the demands of Jenna and Seth. They are now adults who should be caring for themselves, but Sophie feels obligated to be at their beck and call. Though she lost her chance at a college education, her heart is currently set on opening a bookstore in the town of Piper Cove, NC, using her hard-earned savings.
Now attending Jenna's wedding, she is thrilled Jenna found someone to love who returns the same affection. But her happiness fades when Aiden Maddox arrives as one of the groomsmen. Sophie loved him since high school and hoped they’d marry one day.
When her father took off, Aiden also left to run a business with a friend in Charleston—five hours away. He asked Sophie to join him, but she stayed to care for her sickly mom and siblings, refusing to leave like their father did.
Sophie nurses a broken heart all these years trying hard to forget Aiden, but seeing him again hurts more for she still loves him. She tries to ignore him, but he makes a point to talk to her, and she prays her feelings do not show.
Almost Immediately, a fast-moving hurricane storms into town, and Aiden can't leave. He is stranded, and with all the hotels filled up, he heads to stay at a friend's home, not knowing Sophie is staying there. She got free rein to live there until construction work on her shop and the upstairs apartment is finished. Shocked at seeing Aiden on the doorstep, she cannot turn him away, realizing he'll be with her until the weather clears.
Nothing to do while being stuck inside, they talk and air their feelings. Aiden also tried to put her out of his mind and states his anger because she did not go with him years ago. Now, learning Sophie's father abandoned them, guilt arises, and he admits his resentment with her at that time but understands her reason for remaining at home.
While the storm rages on, Seth phones Sophie begging her help to edit a paper he is to present at his job. The power goes out, and Sophie decides to head to a nearby hotel and use their Wi-Fi. This infuriates Aiden for she always put her family before him, causing abandonment issues he still carries from when his mother left when he was a child.
Aiden realizes Sophie is still in his heart and stays longer than he planned to help her get her store organized, especially after she twisted her ankle and needs to use crutches. Soon they are sharing kisses, and Sophie questions herself about rekindling her passion for him. With their lives being five hours apart, a long-distance relationship cannot work.
After Aiden prepares a romantic dinner for Sophie, they are interrupted by a call from Jenna begging Sophie to do her a favor. His anger rises as she is about to drop everything for Jenna. A nasty argument ensues with them both saying things they don't mean.
Sophie's store is due to open the following day and managing to finalize everything even after many mishaps, she is dismayed when she awakens to find the house empty. Adam leaves her a note stating they need time off, which makes her think about what he said about Seth's and Jenna's control over her:
"Sophie had become more and more enslaved to the needs of her siblings. And as she was as much to blame as they were—after all, she'd catered to their needs. Her growing frustration was as much her fault as theirs. She'd been reluctant to admit the problem, but you couldn't change what you didn't acknowledge."
Again, her heart is broken yet her new business beckons, and she must put her best foot forward. Friends arrive for the opening which turns out to be far more lucrative than Sophie thought. Though sad about Aiden, she is pleased by accomplishing her dream.
Is there a chance for Sophie and Aiden, or is a relationship unachievable? Until Sophie can erect boundaries with Jenna and Seth, she will never attain a life of her own. And Aiden must overcome the ghosts and heartaches of his past, or a future with Sophie will not happen.
Bookshop by the Sea is a fast-paced, sweet romance. It offers the protagonist the chance to look inward and with introspection, to face pitfalls in life especially dealing with others and not being a pushover. Portraying the ups and downs many relationships endure unless one can attain faith and belief in oneself, lasting love will never come to fruition.