Book Review Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams {living outside the stacks}

Author: Beatriz William

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: HarperLuxe

Release Date: 27 June 2017

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 376

ABOUT THE BOOK {from the inside flap of the book}

France, 1917. Virginia Fortescue journeys overseas with the Red Cross in order to escape the claustrophobia of a childhood spent hiding her father’s criminal past. While driving an ambulance across the battlefields of the Western Front, she meets a brilliant, charismatic British army surgeon and falls into a passionate affair. But Captain Simon Fitzwilliam’s charm disguises a history filled with its own darkness, and as the war draws to its close, Virginia is forced into a terrifying choice for herself and her unborn child.

Florida, 1922. Newly widowed, Virginia Fitzwilliam arrives in the tropical boomtown of Cocoa Beach to settle her estranged husband’s estate, and discovers a dazzling new world of citrus groves, white beaches, and rumrunners, to which Simon’s brother and sister welcome her tenderly. But Virginia senses a predatory presence lurking beneath the hedonistic surface of this oasis. The more she learns about Simon’s life in Florida, the more she fears that the uncanny circumstances of his demise point to a sinister agency, and that her life as well as their daughter’s may lie next in its crosshairs…


A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz Williams spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons, before her career as a writer took off. She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore.

You can like her page on Facebook, see behind the scenes pictures on Instagram,  or follow her on Twitter.


First, I have to say, I absolutely adore historical fiction, especially stories that are set in the twenties, so my opinion is definitely biased. With that being said, let me explain what I absolutely loved about this novel: The setting. Williams’s descriptions of World War I France and 1920s Florida were swoon worthy. The war scenes were visceral and troubling, but not in a graphic or gratuitous way. The scenes helped to explain the intensity of emotions and how two people who really didn’t know each other could fall so deeply in love. As someone who grew up an Army / Air Force brat and was, later, in the Army, I can attest to the fact that emotions run deep within the military community. The descriptions of Florida were lush and sensuous. Very well done. I will say that I would’ve liked to have read more about the juke joints and rumrunners, but this is a love story so…

I also liked the narration and writing style. Williams chose to write the novel in first person with a series of flashbacks and letters to help propel the story. At points I found this method confusing, but it worked for this novel {especially since Virginia is confused and scattered throughout most of it}. Honestly, I kind of read this novel as film noir but in book form. As Virginia was slipping in and out of awareness, I felt myself reading in the same breathy quality in which I imagined she would be relaying the story to the police.

The story, while interesting, was at times a bit too contrived. Again, the confusion may have been intentional, allowing the reader to feel what Virginia was feeling during the story. As for the characters, all of them were sketchy. Even Virginia, the heroine. There were points where I questioned her memory of the details, because she was so {I don’t want to give away too much} “unaware.” But I will say this much, it’s wonderful reading about a female villain who has absolutely no shame whatsoever.


However, end of the book left me completely puzzled. Who were the woman and child at the end of the novel? Is this a set up for a continuation of the story? . This part just seemed so random. Beatriz Williams actually responded to my question about this on Twitter, so now I’m intrigued…

You do not have to read A Certain Age in order to understand this novel, but it will help you to understand a bit of the backstory and the reasons behind some of Virginia’s actions.

If you’re a mystery fan or enjoy historical fiction, I would recommend Beatriz Williams because she’s a talented writer and her novels are lush and descriptive. I have to say, I am a newly minted Williams fan, and will be reading more of her work.

There was some coarse language and violence.



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Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Let’s discuss…

Daenel T {Living Outside the Stacks}





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