The Hideawayby Lauren K. Denton (Website, Facebook, Twitter)
Published by Thomas Nelson on April 11, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Death & Dying, Romance, Southern
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon • Book Depository • Goodreads
I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
When her grandmother’s will wrenches Sara back home from New Orleans, she learns more about Margaret Van Buren in the wake of her death than she ever did in life.
After her last remaining family member dies, Sara Jenkins goes home to The Hideaway, her grandmother Mags’s ramshackle B&B in Sweet Bay, Alabama. She intends to quickly tie up loose ends then return to her busy life and thriving antique shop in New Orleans. Instead, she learns Mags has willed her The Hideaway and charged her with renovating it—no small task considering Mags’s best friends, a motley crew of senior citizens, still live there.
Rather than hurrying back to New Orleans, Sara stays in Sweet Bay and begins the biggest house-rehabbing project of her career. Amid Sheetrock dust, old memories, and a charming contractor, she discovers that slipping back into life at The Hideaway is easier than she expected.
Then she discovers a box Mags left in the attic with clues to a life Sara never imagined for her grandmother. With help from Mags’s friends, Sara begins to piece together the mysterious life of bravery, passion, and choices that changed Mags’s destiny in both marvelous and devastating ways.
When an opportunistic land developer threatens to seize The Hideaway, Sara is forced to make a choice—stay in Sweet Bay and fight for the house and the people she’s grown to love or leave again and return to her successful but solitary life in New Orleans.
“From the opening of ‘The Hideaway,’ the reader is captured by the voice of a woman who has for too long kept a story that must be told–one the reader wants to hear.”—New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry
“The Hideaway is the heartwarmingly Southern story about the families we are given—and the families we choose,” said Karen White, New York Times bestselling Southern author
After reading such heavy, dark books that I’ve tackled lately, I needed a book that was as fun, emotionally healing, and loving as The Hideaway. Lauren K. Denton’s debut is a knockout–full of family ties, self-discovery, a little bit of mystery and romance, and a bunch of digging into your family’s past to find out where you came from and where you now below. I really love stories where a character reluctantly returns to their small hometown to take care of things, even though they’re now living it up in the city and can’t imagine how they ever survived somewhere with such a slow pace and everyone knows your business. It lets me live vicariously through the book since there’s no way I’d ever move back to my small town of 2500 citizens, even if you paid me. Although I don’t think my husband would complain too much if we moved back down there…
In The Hideaway, Sara Jenkins is living what she thinks is a satisfying life in New Orleans. She’s the owner of a successful antiques store and she also remodels clients houses, but she’s still single at thirty–mostly by her own choices. When her grandmother unexpectedly passes away and wills Sara her crumbling bed and breakfast called The Hideaway, Sara has to return to the small town of Sweet Bay, Alabama where she’d fled as soon as she’d finished high school at eighteen. Expecting to return for only a week in the town where her grandmother raised her among a motley group of senior citizens, Sara soon learns that her grandmother Mags wants her to restore The Hideaway to its former glory while she looks out for the four roommates that checked in years ago and never checked out. But Sara soon finds that a handsome contractor makes being back in her hometown quite a bit easier than it was before, and she really loves fixing up the bed and breakfast. If only a slimy real estate developer doesn’t try to pull the rug out from under all of them…
The Hideaway is told in dual points of view: Mags mostly in the 1960s, but up through present day, and Sara’s present day over several months. Mags’ story is one of being in an unhappy marriage, but finding your true calling with a ragtag group of strangers that become friends at a beautiful vacation spot that has turned into somewhere people check in and never leave. She finds love, but it doesn’t always work out the way you want it to. Sara sees as she goes through the contents of the house that she didn’t really know who her grandmother was, especially as a young woman, and she wants to find the truth. And the truth leads her to someone who has a lot of regrets, but also a lot of potential for healing for them both.
The Hideaway and Sweet Bay, Alabama were like additional characters. They held such prominence and beauty in the book, and I loved seeing the history The Hideaway B&B had through the years–first for Mags, then for Sara with Mags, and finally for Sara without Mags. This southern countryside setting was gorgeously described, and I would really love to visit somewhere like this. It’s rather idyllic–especially to someone who commutes into Chicago every week day for work. Lauren K. Denton did a fantastic job of bringing everything so vividly to life.
I really loved the dimensional side characters in The Hideaway. Mag’s best friend Dot and her husband Bert were very likable and so friendly, while Major was a bit gruff and reluctant to see anything change and Glory was quirky. Sara’s assistant at her shop Bits and Pieces named Allyn was quite fantastic in so many ways. I could read a book where he was a bit more in the forefront easily. And the contractor Crawford was such a nice Southern boy: handsome, polite, and on Sara’s side no matter what.
I give The Hideaway a five out of five. I seriously loved everything about this book. It was emotional, heartfelt, and fun when it needed to be, with interesting characters that I connected with on several levels. Sara’s journey to get to know her grandmother even after she’d passed was one that I understood and sympathized with, having lost three of my four grandparents at a younger age. Sara’s regrets at not making more of an effort to visit Mags in Sweet Bay were palpable, and it’s something that I struggle with myself. There were a lot of funny moments to look out for, certainly one from Mags is the death announcement she wrote for husband. It made me laugh really hard! The pacing was perfect and the writing flow smoothly, and the lazy southern feel was perfect for a book set on the water over the summer. I definitely recommend this to people who love southern romances, coming home stories, or just well-told family stories.
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About Lauren K. Denton
Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren K. Denton now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she’d rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books. The Hideaway is her first novel.
Connect with Lauren K. Denton
Lauren K. Denton’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for THE HIDEAWAY:
Sunday, April 2nd: Writer Unboxed – author guest post
Tuesday, April 11th: Reading Reality
Thursday, April 13th: Buried Under Books
Friday, April 14th: Books a la Mode – author Q&A
Monday, April 17th: Just Commonly
Wednesday, April 19th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Friday, April 21st: View from the Birdhouse
Monday, April 24th: Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, April 26th: Bibliotica
Friday, April 28th: Laura’s Reviews
Monday, May 1st: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Wednesday, May 3rd: Kahakai Kitchen
Thursday, May 4th: Dwell in Possibility
Monday, May 8th: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
Wednesday, May 10th: Kritter’s Ramblings