Title: Forever in Cape May
Author: Jennifer Probst
What’s it About: Taylor Sunshine is the youngest of the three Sunshine sisters, and she’s always made it clear that she would not continue working in Sunshine Bridal after three years. Her dream? To be an artist. And that dream right now was on track to being true, thanks to Carter who had seen her painting in Pierce’s office, bought it and put her in contact with a Luis, a gallery owner who specializes in new, up-and-coming artists. She has to now create a series of paintings and mustered to create five of them–but her creativity is blocked.
Pierce is the go-to-photographer for Sunshine Bridal, and Taylor’s best friend. They’d met in high school and continued to stay friends through college, and up until now. They’d even made a blood pact to never have sex and keep their friendship alive instead because Taylor believed that sex ruins friendship. After all, she has never been one to believe in marriage, while Pierce has always been the one who believe in settling down and wanting to have a family.
Pierce protects Taylor from a date who stalks her, and they spend a lot of time together. Then they have a bachelorette party planned where the ladies wanted Pierce to be a photographer, following them around. They have fun, and after putting the ladies to sleep in their hotel room, Pierce and Taylor head out to a bar to grab a bite to eat. But they also have tequila shots in a game of who knows who better. Pierce makes a comment to Taylor that she’d always believe that she was broken because she never had the same kind of interest in romance as her sisters, and never believed in it. This breaks Taylor’s heart because what he said is true, but Pierce takes it back and calls it a draw.
They head over to his apartment, and as always, Taylor sleeps in his bed. Except this time before falling asleep, he cuddles her, gets hard, and she kisses him. They end up having sex, and are surprised the following morning that it happened twice. Taylor freaks out and runs away, intending to figure it out at another time.
At first, they agree to never speak of the situation and never have it happen again, to go back to that friendship. But then one night, Pierce walks in on Taylor painting, and they agree to become friends with benefits for the remainder of her time until she goes to Paris. Taylor truly believes that if something has been forbidden to them before, that maybe if they let it become normal, it will go away. Coincidentally, Taylor’s ability to paint sparks to life at the same time.
In the meantime, Pierce realizes that he has been wanting to move on from photographing Weddings and Events, and puts out some feelers to magazines and other places. Most of them come back asking him about weddings, but one of them gives him a week to do photos of Cape May with the caveat that it’s not the normal boring photos. He meets Samantha–a waitress at a Taco place who had just moved down from NYC–and asks her to meet with him to show her around. He realizes that he needs to see Cape May with new eyes—that of someone who is not local.
Taylor continues to paint her series and one night, while painting the last of her series, Pierce shows up and they have sex in the studio, before showering to wash off all the paint, and going to sleep. The next morning Taylor is enjoying her coffee, when Pierce walks out naked into the kitchen. They’re having a conversation, when suddenly Zoe bursts in without knocking asking for fruit, with Bella on her heels. Bella reacts quickly, grabbing Zoe to hide her from seeing a naked Pierce, who in turn ducked under the kitchen counters. Taylor gives Zoe strawberries, and the two of them realize they need to get their stories together because they were about to get the inquisition from both Taylor’s sisters and their boyfriends–Carter and Gabe–who are part of Pierce’s close group of guy friends.
Sure enough, just as expected, the calls came, and the two of them stuck to the same story–they had sex after a drunken night, and just kept it up until she goes away to Paris. Both the sisters don’t believe that friends with benefits is all that they are, and Carter and Gabe don’t believe that either. But Taylor and Pierce stay adamant about it.
In September, Taylor leaves for Paris with her paintings, including the one painting from her series that she gifted to Pierce but borrowed it for the exhibition. After a busy few days, she FaceTimes Pierce who is in Florida with his parents, and they talk for a little bit, catching up about everything that has been going on with them. When her exhibition opens, Pierce finds himself outside of the door, wondering if he did the right thing showing up and whether Taylor would be mad. He goes in and when she sees him, she runs to him in joy. They talk about the exhibition and the art, when they are interrupted by Luis who says that he has potential buyers. Taylor tells him that she’s willing to sell all of them except the third painting, which belongs to Pierce, and though Luis argues with her that she’s got a better chance selling the series, she stays firm.
Pierce and Taylor spend a few wonderful days exploring Paris, photographing the area, and having sex at night. He realizes very quickly that he loves Taylor, and considers how he could change things around so that he could be with her in Paris. Taylor goes to meet with Luis about the sale of the gallery–potential $100,000.00 for the series with a buyer who wants to get all of the paintings including the one off the market. Realizing that she cannot give Pierce what he wants, and not wanting him to resent her for taking away his dreams of the white picket fence and the family, she makes the split-second decision to sell that last painting as part of the gallery. When she returns to her apartment, Pierce is excited to tell her his plan, but sees her seriousness. She then proceeds to tell him that they would never work, that she sold the last painting and that he doesn’t belong here with her because of his dreams. Pierce is hurt, and tells her that he’ll leave for the hotel and head home, but also states that he will need time to get through this because he doesn’t think that they can go back to friendship. His feelings had changed and he believes hers had too, but he’s not going to push it. He later texts her and tells her that he needs time and space from her, and stops talking to her.
After not talking for a while, Taylor ends up calling Pierce’s phone, and Samantha picks up, telling her all about Pierce’s new job and contract–he’d been asked by the magazine to do a blog with his pictures and thoughts for three months, and if it does well, it will be extended. Pierce comes back, and Samantha offers to give the phone to him, but Taylor hangs up and feels defeated, thinking that Pierce had moved on so fast.
She returns to Cape May for Avery’s wedding in October, and tries to talk to Pierce. He tells her that he just can’t do it anymore, and reiterates that their feelings had changed but that he’s respecting her wishes. He also tells her to stop hiding from things relating to their relationship, and that she’s making up excuses. Gabe and Carter corner him after the rehearsal dinner and while Pierce does not want to spill anything because he doesn’t want to ruin Carter’s day, he relents when Carter tells him it would be his wedding present since he feels the tension. Pierce tells them the truth, and they say that it’s rough, but that he needs the time and space.
After the wedding, Taylor hangs around for a couple of days, feeling dejected. Something Zoe says makes her realize that she needs to talk, and she asks Bella to come by. The two of them talk, and then call Avery on her honeymoon, telling her what was happening. Avery and Bella agree that Taylor screwed up big time, and that she will need to fix it in some way if she wants him. Taylor suggest sex, but Bella and Avery say that her gesture needs to be grander than that, kind of like with them–Carter with his dog and marriage proposal, and Bella with her article for Gabe. Taylor understands and realizes what she can do, but she needs to go back to Paris.
A month later, Pierce is walking around his studio, finalizing things for his trip. He had given all of his bridal business to a different photographer on the cape, and is now focusing full time on the blog and other photography pursuits. He dreads Thanksgiving, knowing that Taylor will be back, but this year he made plans to go to his parents in Florida in order to avoid her. Suddenly the door to his studio opens up, and Taylor enters, pulling in a canvas. She tells him her feelings and apologizes to him for how she has acted. She uncovers her canvas and it’s a continuation of her series, but this time the woman is her and the man in the paintings is him. He comes up to her, pulls her up into her arms and they both profess their love for each other.
Another month later, Pierce and Taylor are hanging out with her their crew for the Holidays, when Bella starts asking if they can take another wedding for the summer. There’s some pushback and Taylor is asking whether or not there’s something wrong with the two of them because they’re always taking last minute weddings. Then Bella reveals that she and Gabe are engaged and it would be her wedding in the summer. When Gabe explains that he proposed the week before, Zoe pipes in and said that he had no reason to be nervous as Bella would definitely say yes. Bella then asks Taylor if she would be her maid of honor, and Taylor accepts.
Verdict: This is my second favorite book of the Sunshine Sisters series. Maybe a couple of the items were a bit unrealistic–friends sharing a bed was a bit odd to me–but I could easily how two people who had been friends for a very long time took the leap to being romantic partners. It was messy, and confusing for them. But I also resonated very strongly with them both as artists–Pierce as a photographer and Taylor as a painter–since I am a photographer too. So watching them work through their feelings on what they should be doing with their artistic careers was an opportunity for me to explore my feelings on that topic. I’ve certainly felt the artistic blocks like Taylor, and felt her frustration with it. At the same time, I 100% understood how Pierce felt about discovering what his creative direction was with photography, and more than anyone, I do understand how difficult that leap is from one niche to another in photography.
I really enjoyed this story, more so than Bella’s and Gabe’s, so I recommend reading this one, if you’re interested in doing this as a standalone story.