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on August 20, 2003
Describing the plot of this book, it's hard not to be sarcastic. The coincidences rival some of the plots of Unsolved Mysteries. Nothing happens only once. Caroline watches two strangers die of gunshot wounds in two unrelated incidents 10 years apart. Later, two characters get the exact same injury on the exact same day, also in unrelated incidents. What are the chances? And don't get me started on the chichihua/rat mixup story. Urban mythologists say it never really happened, but it does here.
Still, despite the credibility-straining plot, the book eventually won me over. Luanne Rice is a good writer, and the characters were, for the most part, three dimensional and likable. Their actions were usually well-motivated--no one was an alcoholic or a neglectful mother without explanation. There was a bit too much symbolism given to little objects (snake bones, black pearls, etc.) and Rice should never try to write in the voice of a child--the letters between two young characters and a young girl's diary did not ring true. But in the end, I was really hoping for a happy ending for this family, which means that overall, the book worked for me.
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on November 12, 2002
Luanne Rice is one of my very favorite writers because her books never fail to interest, entertain or move me as she sets the stage with both wonderful relationships between her characters and intriguing plots. And while I always want to gulp down her books, I find myself sabing some of her books so I always have something to read by her.
Firefly Beach is set in Hubbard's Point, Connecticut, which will also be the location of two other books, Safe Harbor and True Blue, written by Ms. Rice. It is in this beach town that Hugh and Augusta Renwick have raised their three daughters Clea, Caroline and Skye. Now, many years later previous events in these women's lives continue to loom over them. The oldest daughter Caroline owns the local bed and breakfast, which caters to an artistic crowd who continue to revere her well- known father and painter. Clea, the middle daughter is married to a local minister, the mother of two young children and provides the voice of reason and stability in the family. Skye, an artist and the youngest daughter has recently left her philandering husband continues to deal with her involvement in a family accident by drinking too much is prone to fits of depression and causes her family to constantly worry about her. And presiding over the family is Augusta, now the widow of a famous artist who deals with all adversity by closing her eyes to the very real problems her daughters deal with in their lives.
Now Joe Connor arrives in Hubbard's Point on an expedition to salvage a ship that sunk many years ago. As a young man his path crossed with the Renwick family when his father presumably died from a heart attack in the Renwick's home. Caroline, a young girl wrote Joe a condolence note after this event which resulted in them corresponding for several years until Joe as an adolescent learns the truth about his father's death. Now finally meeting Caroline in person, Joe can neither hide his hatred of Caroline's family nor his attraction to her. And Caroline beset by the past and Skye's current emotional deteriaration cannotignore that she is quite taken with the man who she so adored as a young girl.
In my opinion, there are few writers today who present readers with family stories as well as Luanne Rice does. Whether she describes the love between parents and children or siblings for each other, this author always manages to bring tears to my eyes. And in Firefly Beach she presents a memorable relationship between Caroline and Joe and the three sisters and their mother which makes this book a most worthwhile read.
I now look forward to reading Safe Harbor and True Blue which continues the story of some characters readers first meet in Firefly Beach. I have a feeling that I will also throughly enjoy these two books.
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on October 25, 2002
Too much unnecessary violence and profanity. It seemed like all the characters were made into alcoholics for the sake of character conflict.
The romance of Caroline Renwick and Joe Connor is complicated by a shooting that involved both their parents years ago. Caroline and Joe began writing letters when they were teenagers, so there's a lot of backstory told through letters.
This novel feels a lot like Nicholas Sparks's "Message in a Bottle" what with taking place near the ocean, and lots of old letters remembered. "Firefly Beach" has lots of stuff about deep-sea diving and oceanography, as the Connor brothers are scuba divers looking for lost ocean treasure--very similar to the diving instructor in "Message in a bottle".
However, Luanne Rice's Connecticut shoreline is nowhere near as compelling as Nicholas Sparks North Carolina shoreline in "Message in a Bottle," which I might rather read than "Firefly".
Luanne Rice's other novel, "Summer Light", the one that came after "Firefly", was the better one of the two Luanne Rice books.
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on February 9, 2002
I have been hearing people rave about Luanne Rice's books for some time now, so I thought I would give this book a try. I found the premise of the story very interesting. Two families brought together by tragedy, who go their separate ways, and are drawn back together thirty years later. The Renwick family is well drawn. The emotionally uninvolved Augusta Renwick, matriarch to the three Renwick girls, Caroline, cool and sophisticated, Clea the happily married earth mother and Skye the alcoholic mess. The problems stem from the overwhelming tragedies that seem to permeate the entire storyline. From the opening chapter scene of impending murder, to the accidental death of a young man caused by a young girl, the doom and gloom dragged the tone of the whole book down. The formulistic love story between Caroline and Joe was very predictable. What does save the book is the chemistry of the three sisters, whose story is heart warming, and believable. We all want to believe that love and loyalty can be the answer to a lot of unhappiness, and in this particular instance that is true. I have one other Luanne Rice book on my never ending To Be Read pile, so I will give this author one more try at winning my loyalty.
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on December 9, 2001
Firefly Beach is a romantic novel written by Luanne Rice about two young lovers who have grown up and gone their separate ways. However, when they reunite in their hometown sparks fly and of course the past is remembered. Caroline and Joe shared some good times together but ever since Joe found out about the truth of his father's suicide and Caroline's connection to the tragedy, he has despised Caroline and the Renwick family. I though Rice's characters were realistic and plausible, however, part of the plot was not. The plot was pretty predictable and followed the regular formula of boy meets girl, confrontation to keep the two apart, and finally all is well in the end. The theme was not very developed, and I found it hard to truly decipher what the theme was. The only thing I finally decided on was that true love will persevere in the end.
Aside from my criticisms I did like the book. However, with these romance novels it does not take much to get me hooked. It was a good book though and I found myself reading it at every chance I got, trying to find out if the two young lovers would get back together. Sure, it might not have had real suspense and hidden meaning that classic novels do, but it kept you interested and was a pleasant book. If you are going on vacation and just want to get a good read in, I would suggest this book.
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on October 27, 2001
Firefly Beach by Luanne Rice is one of her best books yet. I have read all but three of her books, and with each new book I read, I come to endear Rice as one of my favorite authors. Her books are incredibly sensitive, the characters are so real and believable, and she writes from her heart. Her writings seem to center on family issues that one can relate to at one time or another. Rice lets us know that love can heal, prevail and make things right.
Caroline Renwick knows the secret of Joe Connor's father's untimely death when he was only six. Yet Caroline befriends him at a young age and their relationship grows deeper through their letters to each other. That is, until Joe discovers the truth of his father's death, and at seventeen and blames Caroline for not telling him the truth, and cuts her out of his life.
Years later, Joe comes back into Caroline's life, back to Firefly beach to see for himself where the death occurred, and to find some more answers. Now a grown woman, Caroline, remains the main support for her mother and two sisters, as they all must confront those demons and deal with them, as well as the arrival of Joe Connor.
With grace and style, Luanne Rice portrays a dysfunctional family whose yearnings to heal are marred by more challenges and confrontations. With Joe's help, Caroline is able to listen to her heart and to her longings and in the process helps her own family to find the strength to heal and to love again.
This was another could not put down book, and Ms. Rice writes with the same sensitivity that I have come to admire in her previous books. A very endearing love story - I highly recommend it!
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on August 16, 2001
This was my first Luanne Rice novel, and I was disappointed. In fact, I had a hard time finishing the book. Rice has received such glowing reviews that I really expected something on the order of a Jodi Picoult or Patricia Gaffney book. I don't get the "elegant writer" description so many reviewers have accorded Rice. I found the writing to be choppy and fairly ordinary. Some of the situations were so far fetched and made the characters involved so unsympathetic, I found it hard to care about them. The sisters were well-drawn, except at times I wanted to smack Caroline for being such a martyr. But that mother of theirs! I was actually wishing she'd die. She sacrificed her daughters' wellbeing and emotional health because she was a stupid woman who allowed her obsession with her worthless husband to dominate her existence. Sorry, but I don't go along with the myth that artists are above the rules and that we mere mortals must humor and indulge their every wish. I think a mother has a moral obligation to protect her children, and this woman didn't. In fact, this woman put her children in danger and never lifted a finger to stop it. As far as I'm concerned, no amount of "realization" at the end justifies the way she led her life. I guess the bottom line is, I didn't like a lot of these people so really didn't care what became of them. I do have two other Luanne Rice books sitting on my bookshelf and I will give her another try. I only hope they're better than this one was.
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on July 1, 2001
Luanne Rice is a fine writer. Her stories offer plots and characters that are enthralling portrayals of contemporary (if sometimes fraught) family life. Firefly Beach is the story of three sisters coping (or not) with emotional betrayal on various levels by their famous but dead painter father.
Rice is such a good writer, in fact, that I hold her to a higher standard than other authors. That is why this rates only 4 stars in my book. There are at least two terrific and terrifying scenes where you just can't imagine what the outcome is going to be, but overall the character treatment and incidents are predictable and superficial compared to her better novels (Cloud Nine is my favorite). And while the hero in Firefly Beach is convincingly angsty, his transformation from antagonist to love interest is not developed enough to be totally satisfying.
Also, I was disappointed about the inaccuracies in the underwater diving/salvaging scenes. She adequately conveys the ambience but the discrepancies in the details will annoy readers who have any diving experience.
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on June 5, 2001
In 1969, at FIREFLY BEACH, Connor arrives at the Renwick home carrying a gun. He accuses the famous artist Hugh Renwick of stealing his wife and plans to steal something that the man loves. However, Renwick is not at home and Connor is unable to kill any of the three Renwick sisters as he had planned. Instead he kills himself. Five-year old Caroline Renwick begins exchanging letters with Connor's six-year-old son Joe, but those letters end years later when he learns his dad committed suicide rather than dying from a heart attack.

Over three decades later, Joe returns to FIREFLY BEACH to meet the Renwicks and gain closure. Instead, he finds the Renwicks needing emotional help too. He helps one sister dry out, but opens his heart to the vulnerable, caring Caroline as love blossoms between them. However, that tragedy thirty-plus years ago still nightmarishly lingers as a blockage to any permanent relationship between Caroline and Joe.

FIREFLY BEACH is a powerful look at how one tragic event impacts on innocent family members. Three decades after their father had an affair with his mother; all four now adult children and the girls' mother still are psychologically damaged. Luanne Rice escorts the audience inside the heads of her cast so the reader can feel the swirling often-dark emotions that threaten to engulf each character. Ms. Rice is among the top gurus in invoking a realistic healing power of love in her novels and this novel showcases the author at her holistic best.

Harriet Klausner
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on July 20, 2001
I am a hardcore Luanne Rice fan. Home Fires is my favorite, but Summer Light was excellent, too!
First of all, why is this book a paperback? Why was it not released as a hardback? Could it be because it was poorly edited?
Pages 15 and 16, for example, make no sense. I was on my lunch hour reading, and I must have read that passage six times! You are led to believe that it is Caroline talking, but then the narrator says she failed a test "even though Caroline had helped her with her homework." Huh???
Next paragraph says, "no matter that she was her sister". Her who???? What the heck is Luanne talking about.
Then, still thinking the person narrating is Caroline, it talks about how it feels to kill another human. In the next chapter, the reader discovers that it was Skye who killed someone. Did the reader miss something here? Was something left out? Did NO ONE proofread this book?
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