Recently I received Sunset Bridge, the third and final book in Emilie Richards's Happiness Key series, but I had one tiny problem: I hadn't read the first two in the series. Thankfully the local library was able to take care of that problem, allowing me to read the first two books, Happiness Key and Fortunate Harbor. Believe me when I saw this: these two books were nothing short of incredible. So before I review the third and final book tomorrow (July 2), I thought I would share my thoughts with you on the first two in mini-review format....
*Be aware that the review for the second novel (Fortunate Harbor) includes slight spoilers for the first novel (Happiness Key).*
Happiness Key begins the story of four women who could not be any more different. First, there is Tracey Deloche, a former socialite still dealing with the consequences and figurative punches that come from her now ex-husband’s con dealings that landed him in one of California’s finest jails. The main consequence: having to live in and deal with Happiness Key, twenty-five acres of Florida Gulf Coast where five cottages and its residents reside. As for the residents, there’s Janya, an India transplant dealing with her troubled past and her arranged marriage to a man she barley knows, as well as headstrong Wanda who is watching her marriage slowly fall apart, and Alice, a widow living with her son-in-law and granddaughter. At first, these women are ones who don’t get along at all, but when their fifth neighbor, Herb, is found dead and alone in his cottage, they are brought together to find his family as well as the secrets he left behind. It will not be an easy journey, especially when another destructive danger lies in their path. Will they be able to save the day? More importantly, will these they ever call a truce? Find out in this first fun and fast-paced addition in the Happiness Key trilogy.
If there’s one thing I love in a book, it’s well-developed characters, and thankfully enough Happiness Key had that and even more! When I first discovered that the story would be told through reversing third person, I was a bit wary, but even with that, these four characters (Janya, Alice, Tracy, and Wanda) were able to thrive and come alive within their passages, becoming four characters I could not help but root for and adore. Best of all, this book contained not only a fabulous mystery that constantly kept me guessing, but the kind of friendships I love to read about: strong and supportive ones that allow for the characters to learn new things about themselves as well as others. Emilie’s writing was also great because of the way she constantly fleshed out the plot and storylines.
In all, if you are going to give a contemporary fiction read a try, pick up Happiness Key. It’s sure to bring a smile to your face and keep you on the edge of your chair, guessing until the very last page. And if you're lucky, it may even become a new series to read!
Fortunate Harbor picks up a little while after Happiness Key ended. Tracy, Janya, Wanda, and Alice are facing a variety of new challenges and success. For instance, Tracy is watching her romance with Marsh, enemy turned something more, bloom, but after her ex-husband and Marsh’s ex-wife show up, everything is thrown completely off course once again. Whilst Wanda is dealing with her own problems, because while her marriage seems to be better than ever, she just quit her job at the Dancing Shrimp restaurant due to the new owners. Left with too much time on her hands, she begins to brainstorm her own business idea: a pie shop. Janya, on the other hand, is learning to love Rishi, her husband, more and more as time moves on, and while both seem to want to have children, they are having some complications. Lastly, Alice is appreciating every day, especially because her granddaughter is now living with her permanently. Then Dana Turner arrives with her daughter, and everything seems okay at first, but soon the four woman begin to learn Dana is hiding a big secret. Now it is up to Janya, Alice, and Tracy, and Wanda to figure it out before Dana disappears once and for all…
Just like Happiness Key, Fortunate Harbor was a fabulous, complex, and fast paced read. Tracy, Janya, Wanda, and Alice grew even more as characters, and yet again brought spunk and liveliness to the pages. The addition of Dana and her daughter was great as well, because not only did it bring the main mystery to the book, but it also showed yet another kind of person.
My favorite part of this book would have to be the friendship between all five women, because not only is it realistic, but it also brings lots of complexity as well as heart to the novel, as the reader begins to see just how far these women would go for one another. I also loved seeing Janya’s relationship with her husband grow as well as the tension between Tracy and her ex-husband and the conclusion that occurred with that. Richards’s writing was once again lovely due to her beautiful descriptions as well character and plot development.
Well worth a read, Fortunate Harbor is a fantastic follow-up, one that will have readers smiling and crying as well as dying to read the book!
To find out more about the books and their author, be sure to visit Emilie's website.