Carrie Carter has come a long way since she was a young girl hiding a knife under her pillow to protect herself and her young sister from their mother’s unsavory boyfriends. Now partners in Carrie’s Café in quaint Seaside, New Jersey, Carrie and Lindsay have made a life for themselves in their community, a life built on stability and faith. Carrie has one wish, however, and that is for her customer, Greg Barnes, to notice her other than when his coffee cup needs refilling.
Greg has been through an unimaginable tragedy and has retreated behind a shell of hurt and distrust. When Carrie begins to break through that shell, Greg realizes that he’s let life pass him by for the past three years, and it might be time to move cautiously forward. Carrie and Greg barely get a chance to begin to get better acquainted when Carrie’s dishwasher, Jason ,turns up missing after a fight with another employee’s boyfriend. Accusations fly, and soon Carrie and Greg find themselves drawn into a complicated web of fraud, deceit and murder as they try to get to the bottom of the crimes that have rocked their little town.
Carrie’s self-made world begins to crumble as pieces of her past become part of her very fragile present. In the meantime, her relationship with Greg falters as he struggles to get hold of his own feelings and resolve his guilt about his past with his hope for a future with Carrie. Both Greg and Carrie realize that their attraction is mutual, but only Carrie is ready to move forward as Greg hesitates to open his heart once more. In the meantime, there is still a killer at large who threatens the safety of the team at Carrie’s Café….
Several themes run throughout Shadows on the Sand, from hope to forgiveness, faith, friendship, loyalty, and love. Several characters seem to be burdened with excessive emotional baggage from their past, and although that background is essential to at least some of the characters, it also weighs the story down, requiring readers to wade through the details to get to the heart of the story. This surplus of backstory issues somewhat weakened the effectiveness of mystery at the core of the novel and threatened to undermine the gentle love story between Carrie and Greg. Despite these factors, Shadows on the Sand is a good read for those looking for a non-gruesome mystery intertwined with a sweet romance.