Title: Love on Beach Avenue
Author: Jennifer Probst
What’s it About: Avery Sunshine is the leader and owner of Sunshine Bridal, a family business that she and her two sisters took over from her family. She and her two sisters have made this business into being the best wedding planning business in Cape May ever since taking it over.
Avery’s best friend from College, Ally Ross, calls her up and asks her to squeeze in one more wedding in an already busy wedding season–hers. Avery could not be more thrilled to be chosen as Ally’s wedding planner, but what she was not planning on was Ally’s older brother, Carter, tagging along as the Man of Honor. Carter is less than thrilled that his sister chose Avery–the wild child from their Georgetown University days that almost landed them in jail with a record.
As Avery starts showing Ally venues and options, with Carter in tow, she gets challenged by him at almost every turn. Carter makes a bet–if Ally falls in love with the wedding dress that he chooses, Avery must take him to dinner–and Avery loses the bet. In a moment of alone time, Carter makes it clear to Avery that he is going to be very involved in the wedding, making all the decisions alongside Ally, and having a say in what gets finalized. This leaves Avery frustrated that he does not trust her. After they have the two most important things–wedding dress, and venue– booked, Ally gets a call that her further Mother in Law broke her foot and needs someone to help care for her, which would make her the best person for that role due to a myriad of reasons. As a result, Ally leaves Carter and Avery to make the appointments and decisions on the rest of wedding items.
Avery proceeds to freeze Carter out of all of the decision making, but he one-ups her by showing up at her business and getting Taylor–Avery’s youngest sister–to give him a schedule of all the appointments. He also proceeds to babysit Zoe, Avery’s niece, when there is a wedding emergency that requires Bella’s touch. Bella, who is Avery’s middle sister, agrees to the babysitting on the spot, so he spends time with Zoe at the office, until Avery returns.
He then inserts himself back into everything, and makes another bet during a cake testing–that Ally will go for the carrot cake and if she does, Avery and him have to go to the beach for the whole day. Most of the time, Carter and Avery exchange barbs, and Avery gets really amazed by the fact that he is able to make friends with the cake designer, the florists, and get them to change the vision or expedite things that weren’t in the plan. And she begins to see a different side of him than Ally’s strict brother.
Carter makes good on his bet wins, and they go out to dinner. Avery is surprised at how easily dinner went with conversation and the fun they had. They sneak out for a walk on the beach after hours, share a kiss, and get caught. Then Avery attempts to avoid Carter out of embarrassment for the kiss, but he shows up for their meetings and appointments. He even becomes friends with Gabe, Avery’s Assistant, during his tuxedo fitting. Carter starts the fitting jealous of Gabe because he thinks Gabe is interested in Avery and doesn’t want Avery to fall in love with Gabe; however, when Carter realizes that Gabe put him in the most horrible looking tuxedo and proclaims that he won’t wear that one to Ally’s wedding, Gabe tells him that Avery wouldn’t stand someone who tries to appease others, and that he really is not interested in Avery. They share a beer, and become fast friends.
So when Gabe calls out sick for a wedding, he asks Carter to step in and ensure that Avery is not left managing the guests and wedding party alone. Carter is totally amazed by how Avery handles herself during the wedding, with all of the problems that crop up, and he also handles a few of his own problems, including helping a crying child write to the tooth fair about her lost tooth. Avery cannot help but fall in love with him, while he cannot stay away from her.
But then he reveals that he does not believe in the institution of marriage but does not wish to divulge the truth about why he thinks that way, besides saying it has something to do with Ally’s and his parents. Avery realizes that if he does not believe in the happily ever after, then he’s not the guy for her, though she is drawn to him in every way possible. She ends the budding relationship after a heated moment at his home. When she finally tells her sisters about what has been going on, Taylor tells her that she needs to take a chance, a leap of faith and see where it takes her, because Avery has closed herself off since her return from college. The three of them come up with a plan–Avery will go on the Beach date with Carter as promised, but she would take Zoe with her and see how that goes.
That is indeed what Avery does, and Carter quickly realizes that he’d been suckered into a day with both Avery and her niece. Nevertheless, they spend a very good time, and Avery is surprised to find out that Carter has a tattoo of a compass on his shoulder, which she never expected of him. They continue to spend some time together, while Avery also works hard at all of the other weddings that she has to plan.
Finally the day of the bachelorette party arrives, and Carter takes Ally, her bridesmaids and Avery out to Atlantic City, where they party it up on the dance floor and in the Casino. When they return to the rooms that night, Carter tells Avery that he cannot get enough of her, and if she lets him into the room, he will want to spend a lot of time with her in the remainder of the time that they have together. She decides to take the leap, and lets him into her room. After a night of sex, Avery asks him about the compass. He tells her that he got the tattoo when he got drunk right before his mother died of cancer. He wanted to become a journalist and travel the world, so he got the tattoo as a “fuck you” to everyone who said he wouldn’t. But he never ended up doing that because his father passed away from a heart attack, and so at 19, he took the responsibility of taking care of his 10 year old sister, by dropping out of college and finding a job.
When Avery presses him about what changed between the time he got that tattoo and his father passing away that made him become a ‘robot man’ as she liked to call him, Carter reveals that Ally was at a sleepover, four months after their mom died and he came home from college to check up on them. He had walked around the house, where no one was responding, called up his friends and made lunch, all the while his father was dying in his office. He had been so stricken with grief over his wife’s death, that he had taken sleeping pills and committed suicide. Carter feels lighter after telling Avery the story, though he makes it clear that he had never told Ally to protect her.
In the subsequent weeks, they become closer as a couple, and spend more time together. But Carter gets a call from his job–he will have to start on his new project on a Tuesday–so he makes a plan and tells Avery over dinner. Avery is not too sure about it, feeling as if something is slipping away, but decides to go with the plan.
A few weeks later, she’s wallowing in front of the TV when Taylor and Bella show up. They encourage to tell Carter what she feels and needs and Avery is not sure–after Carter had visited for the weekend, she felt the walls closing down and the closeness that was there was disappearing. She calls Carter and he picks up even though he’s busy with the code. She tells him that she can’t do this with him putting up a wall, and that she needs more. Carter is not willing to give her that, and so they break up.
Three weeks go by, and Carter calls Ally to check in on her, while Ally calls her back via FaceTime. He breaks the news to her that he and Avery broke up. Ally tells him that she feels guilty that he had to give up so much ever since their parents died and do things for her. She adds that they’ll never truly know why their dad died, but that Carter is not him and that he should live his life. She then asks him if he loves Avery, to which he says yes, so Ally tells him that he needs to take some drastic measures to get back into Avery’s graces. Carter gets off the call and starts his research.
After a particularly bad day where everyone is out and people are calling out sick, Avery is at her business trying to sort thing, when the door opens and closes. She comes out to find Lucy, Carter’s Yorkshire terrier, at the front, and picks her up. Lucy has a note for Avery– to meet him at a restaurant nearby with Lucy. After a moment of anger, Avery goes out to meet with Carter at the requested location. He tells her that he hadn’t been trying very hard, and when Avery tells him that she forgave him and he can go home, he tells her that he is home. He then confesses that he had bought a home in Cape May, quit his job, found a different job, and that he’s smitten with her. After that, he quotes a line from Notting Hill, asking her to marry him. At first Avery thought she misheard him, but when he pulls out the ring in the box, she realizes that he is serious. She says yes.
Avery holds a meeting with the Sunshine Bridal family, and says that she’s accepted a last minute booking for a weekend in September of the following year. Everyone protests because Avery’s parents are supposed to come that weekend, and they were planning on leaving it opened. They all tell her to tell the groom and bride to pick a different weekend, until Avery softly asks if it matters that it is her wedding day. They all happily agree then, and since she had gotten her parents’ blessing to do it on their anniversary, they start to make plans for it.
Verdict: Such a cute romance story. It was nice seeing the story from two different perspectives–Avery’s and Carter’s–and in my head they sound like such a cute couple. I loved how their two different and distinct personalities changed them both–Carter got Avery to relax more, while Avery got him to open up. it’s also very fascinating to see how the perspective changes over time about someone. Avery always thought he was a robot man, without any emotion and very strict, while Carter always saw her as the wild child and a problem. but the more they got to know each other and talk, share information about their lives, they began to understand where the other person came from and why they came across the way they did. I think this part of the book really hit home because how many times do we assume something about a person but never really get a chance to hear them out and understand where they come from. It’s an interesting exploration of an idea that is often talked about but not practiced often.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and I look forward to potentially reading the next book in the series.