A hotheaded young professional finds God—and maybe even romantic love—in Chehak’s breezy debut novel.
Trina Santo has many reasons to take a break from her life in San Francisco, including a stubborn boss, a demanding job as a museum professional, and a cheating boyfriend. In the small California beach town of Catamara, she takes a summer job managing her family’s gift shop, The Hidden Treasure, and it promises to be a soothing balm for her agitated soul. She applies her efficiency and eye for art to her aunt and uncle’s shop, tightening daily operations and supporting local artists by providing them an informal forum. After some necessary store renovations, she reunites with her former high school sweetheart, Daniel Taylor. She also gets her Nancy Drew on when she decides to investigate an old mystery surrounding paintings by beloved local artist Pierre Dupre. One of them features an angel on a white horse running on the beach, depicting heaven’s goodness and light, and is on view at the local church. But where’s the other painting of a fallen angel riding a black horse? Santo’s sleuthing skills are on full display as she tackles the mystery with help from Daniel and her own prayers. Chehak’s portrayal of a young woman finding God as an anchor in her life feels earned, even if the character’s constant pauses for prayer seem a tad unrealistic. The initial setup ultimately proves to be a damp squib as the plot pulls a bait-and-switch, moving on to drawn-out questions regarding art forgeries. Nevertheless, the descriptions of the sun-kissed, surf-drenched seaside landscape are things of beauty and evocatively depict small-town joys and summer fun. Readers will almost feel the sand in between their toes as they read this lighthearted adventure.
A Christian beach read that loses its anchor early on but still delivers a welcome, gentle sea breeze of a story.