Wednesday, February 15, 2023

TBR Challenge: Trish Doller - The Suite Spot

Rachel Beck has hit a brick wall. She’s a single mom, still living at home and trying to keep a dying relationship alive. Aside from her daughter, the one bright light in Rachel’s life is her job as the night reservations manager at a luxury hotel in Miami Beach—until the night she is fired for something she didn’t do.
On impulse, Rachel inquires about a management position at a brewery hotel on an island in Lake Erie called Kelleys Island. When she’s offered the job, Rachel packs up her daughter and makes the cross country move.
What she finds on Kelleys Island is Mason, a handsome, moody man who knows everything about brewing beer and nothing about running a hotel. Especially one that’s barely more than foundation and studs. It’s not the job Rachel was looking for, but Mason offers her a chance to help build a hotel—and rebuild her own life—from the ground up.

Comment: For the month of February, the TBR Challenge theme is "getaway". It's true one could go many directions, but I've chosen something where the main character moves to a new (distant) place, mainly for work, but also as a way to escape an apparent stagnated situation.

In this second installment in the Beck sisters series by author Trish Doller, we focus our attention on Rachel, sister to Anna (from book #1). Rachel is older and feels as if Anna has had it easier in life, despite the tragedy of her fiancé. Now that Anna seems to have moved on, Rachel feels even worse, her job is a good one but everything else seems to go badly and now even her amazing daughter stops her from having less positive thoughts once in a while. However, her bubble pops when the most unfair of reasons causes her to be fired but thankfully, a new job offer goes her way and she decides to move from Florida to Ohio, to work at Kelleys Island, where a brew hotel needs a manager. Things aren't as simple as they seemed when she accepted, but Rachel feels this project will be good for her and her daughter and the fact her new boss isn't hard on the eyes also helps. Will Rachel finally find stability for her life?

This is the second book by the author I pick for the TBR post. I did like Anna's story, which I had read last year, mostly for the setting. This time the setting is again special - an island with a hotel oriented towards those who like beer - and I was interested in seeing how the fact Rachel would be "getting away" to a new job and place and reality would affect her development as a character.

I think the goal was well achieved by the author, in fact. I liked Rachel as a character and how she goes from believing she would not find fulfillment in life (in whatever shape that would be to her) to finding a small community which accepts her, a job she likes and takes satisfaction from, a new leaf for her own feelings and, of course, a new love. I mean, down to its basics, this is pretty much the dream and in real life things rarely go as smoothly. The author has decided to add a few small twists to this, and the focus is most definitely on Rachel's personal and emotional growth, so the plot is very character-focused and the complications at the end felt a little staged, as if something had to happen so things wouldn't be so easy.

I can't fully judge, but in terms of emotional journey I think this was a good and healthy portrait of how to go on with life with small steps - OK, except moving so far away! - so that Rachel could feel more confident with herself and the choices she made. Rachel describes herself as "fat" at some point and we do have indication others see her this way as well, and this is one of the reasons why she isn't always as confident as she would want, and it was something that affected her romantic decisions, including why she slept with the father of her daughter. Going to a new place where no one seems to point the finger at her is probably a little unrealistic but of course I liked that this also helped her feel more assertive.

The daughter is a cutie, not one of those precocious children who speak as if they're teenagers or adults but I feel her presence wasn't just a prop to advance certain things. Rachel's relationship with her mother and sister isn't perfect either, as if they read each others's thoughts or something, but I liked that whatever issues they had weren't too hard to deal with or that by talking something positive came out of it. The secondary characters were also key enough to help Rachel feel she belonged and that she could achieve the things she wanted, without much antagonism. Even her work at the hotel felt like it clicked quite easily, not only because she is skilled but because what was happening wasn't a closed situation.

As for the romance, I liked that the author took time to set up Rachel and Mason as employee and boss but the dynamics aren't weird at all because of how the setting and the work itself was planned. I felt like they started of as polite strangers, aware of each other's limits in what was acceptable or not and then progressed to show how they became friends. It does help that the work they had to do allowed for small steps of getting to understand each other, and that makes the relationship feel it developed slowly.

I've mentioned that there are some difficulties towards the end of the story, an issue which didn't seem possible to become one, does. I confess it felt like a sudden choice made by the author just to add some drama, because it didn't really feel as if it had to be a problem for Rachel and the path the took. It helped to reinforce that what she had found was the best for her, but considering the kind of emotional development everyone who mattered had gotten, this felt unnecessary.

All things considered, I liked this one a little bit more than the first. Of course I feel like trying the third book too, featuring friends of these characters, perhaps.
Grade: 8/10


  1. Sounds like an overall winner for this month! It also sounds like it had some women's fiction feel to it?

    1. Hi! I would say that, yes, half woman's fiction, half romance. :)

  2. Sounds like this was a good choice for you. I've never read this author before so I'm glad you chose it.

    1. Hello Dorine :) Yes, this author's style seems to work for me. I would be interested in reading a review by you of this book or of the one before this in the series, if one day you feel like it. Happy reading!

  3. I have been trying to figure out why the setup for this one makes it a non-starter for me, and I just realized that it's personal baggage. I'm glad it worked for you, even with the issues you noticed.

    1. Yes, this one does have some triggers, I understand your decision. Thankfully, there are other things to chose from. Happy reading!