BOOK REVIEW: A Happier Life by Kristy Woodson HarveyA Happier Life by Kristy Woodson Harvey
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The historic houses in the seaside town of Beaufort, North Carolina, have held the secrets of their inhabitants for centuries. One of the most enduring refuses to be washed away by the tide: What happened to Rebecca and Townsend Saint James on that fateful night of their disappearance in 1976?

Now, the granddaughter they never knew, Keaton Smith, is desperate for a fresh start. So when her mother needs someone to put her childhood home in Beaufort on the market, she jumps at the chance to head south. But the moment she steps foot inside the abandoned house, which has been closed for nearly fifty years, she wonders if she’s bitten off more than she can chew. Wading through the detritus of her grandparents’ lives, Keaton finds herself enchanted by their southern traditions—and their great, big love. As she gets to know her charming next-door neighbor, his precocious ten-year-old son, and a flock of endearingly feisty town busybodies, Keaton begins to wonder if the stories she has been told about her grandparents are true.

Keaton’s grandmother, Rebecca “Becks” Saint James’s annual summer suppers are the stuff of legend, and locals and out-of-towners alike clamor for an invitation to her stunning historic home. But, in the summer of 1976, she’s struggling behind the facade of the woman who can do it all—and facing a problem that even she can’t solve.

As Keaton and Becks face new challenges and chapters, they are connected through time by the house on Sunset Lane, which has protected the secrets, hopes, and dreams of their family for generations.


A Happier Life was a story that wove together the past and the present.  It had elements of mystery and was laced with friendship, fresh starts, and love.  This was my first book by Kristy Woodson Harvey, and I enjoyed how easily I was swept away by this story.

This is actually the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.  I’m reeling as I look around at the wood-paneled walls, the dark cabinets.
It’s like everyone walked out of here almost fifty years ago, locked the door and never came back.

Within those first few chapters I was hooked and already laughing.  I loved going on an adventure with Keaton Smith.  She was broken-hearted, without a job, and took on helping her mom and Uncle to get their childhood home ready to sell.  Yet she never even knew it existed.  And that was just the first unknown she would stumble upon.  Keaton found herself in an adorable small town with all the charm.  And I loved how the townspeople opened their arms to her. Keaton started picturing her life very differently from where she thought it would lead.

The realistic part of me knows that there’s no job for me here, no future. But the romantic part of me is wondering how I will possibly ever leave.

A lot of that had to do with her single dad neighbor Bowen and his adorable 10-year-old son Anderson.  It was impossible not to fall for both of them.  Even if Bowen was a little apprehensive at first.  But their kindness to Keaton was heartwarming.  And I loved how they welcomed her dog Salt too!  This was such a feel-good story, that had me rooting for Keaton and Bowen’s happily ever after.

Where the sky meets the sea.

This story also had chapters from the past, with Keaton’s grandmother and grandfather.  How they fell in love.  And what led to Keaton’s mom and brother being the way they were.  Mystery slowly started to seep into their story and we were given all the clues and eventually the answer.  Yet I didn’t feel as connected to Rebecca Saint James, aka Becks, as I did with Keaton.  Plus there was a sadness that radiated through their lives that the reader can’t help but feel too.

“What are you doing?” I ask, stupidly, my mouth suddenly dry.
He studies my face, as if reading it, and puts his hand under my chin. “Giving you a reason to stay.”
Butterflies explode in my chest as his lips meet mine, as he wraps his arms around me.  In his kiss, I feel all the things he hasn’t been able to say to me.

This women’s fiction, small town romance, that also had chapters from the past was a  heartwarming read.  One of my favorite parts was the boat date, it was magical, beautiful and their chemistry was smile worthy.  If you’re looking for a book to bring to the beach, this may be the one for you.

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*