An adventurous researcher returns to her childhood home and must navigate relationships with her brother, her ex-fiance, and a potential new lover.
Maeve Donnelly has been interested in sharks ever since she was bitten by one as a 12-year-old and survived. Now an adult, Maeve is a marine biologist and more comfortable with sharks than she is with people. At the end of a research trip, Maeve is drawn to Nicholas, a fellow researcher, and invites him to meet her in Mozambique for her next expedition. Yet when she returns to her childhood home at her aunt’s hotel in Florida, where she and her brother moved after their parents died in a private plane accident, she finds unresolved family and romantic relationships waiting for her. Maeve learns that her less successful twin brother, Robin, has had a novel accepted for publication, and it's loosely based on a broken engagement in Maeve’s past. Further, Maeve’s ex-fiance, Daniel, is now the hotel's chef. Before Maeve can decide whether to move forward with Nicholas, she must address her lingering connection to Daniel, which is no easy task given that the two haven’t spoken since Daniel confessed an affair to her. To complicate matters, Daniel’s precocious 6-year-old daughter, Hazel (who was born of his affair), now lives with him after the untimely death of her mother. Hazel is taken with sea creatures and invites Maeve to be a member of The Shark Club with her. Maeve’s professional life is also challenged as an illegal finning operation has moved into the area and is targeting local sharks. Taylor’s debut novel paints a fascinating portrait of sharks and a woman who loves them, with the sweet, burgeoning relationship between Maeve and Hazel as its anchor. The romantic relationships never feel quite fully realized, however, as Nicholas’ presence is too fleeting to endear the reader to him, which makes Maeve’s dilemma of whether to be with him or Daniel seem more symbolic than anything. Considering that the novel is told in the first person, at times Maeve’s thoughts and motivations are also surprisingly hidden both from herself and the reader. There is an interesting cast of secondary characters, such as Maeve’s aunt and brother, and the scenes depicting Maeve’s intellectual and emotional ties to sharks are captivating, especially as the illegal finning operation becomes an urgent local issue that forces her into activism.
An engaging novel about the loves that define our lives.