|OG Surf and Skate Shop, Ocean Grove, New Jersey|
First of all, thank you so much, Anastasia, for letting me come by and share some of the location inspiration for my new release, One Summer Night, the first book in the At the Shore Contemporary Romance series from Sourcebooks Casablanca.
As you might guess from the series name, the stories are set at the beach in Sea Kiss, a fictional town that is a melding of several of my favorite towns along the Jersey Shore. Today I’m going to share a little bit about one of those towns, Ocean Grove, which is one of my favorite shore towns.
Located just south of neighboring Asbury Park, Ocean Grove is a quaint town filled with lovely Victorian homes and a shopping district with a hometown feel. You’ll get to taste some of that atmosphere in One Summer Night as the characters stroll through town. There’s even a little homage to my daughter’s surf and skate shop on Main Avenue.
Ocean Grove was originally founded by the Methodists and is today still owned by the Camp Meeting Association. For that reason, the town is dry and many of the homes are on land that is owned by the Association and only leased to the homeowners. Not that long ago, residents could not park their cars in town on Sunday and to this day, the beach does not open until noon on Sundays to allow residents to attend religious services. Some of those services are actually held in a small pavilion on the boardwalk.
One of the most interesting elements in town that track to its faith-based mission are the tents which are erected every May and taken down in late September. The tents are a holdover from when the Methodists would hold their camp revival meetings on the beach. At some point the structures became more permanent with small sheds to hold the kitchens and bathrooms and the tented area for sleeping. They are lovely to see and are decorated quite nicely by the summer residents. Some of the residents are descendants of the original Methodists who constructed the tents. More than 100 of them remain in town.
In One Summer Night, the families of the heroes and heroines have lived in Sea Kiss for nearly a century and have grand Victorian homes on the beachfront. It was so much fun to craft these homes and the nearby town to give you a taste of what I love about the Jersey Shore and Ocean Grove in particular. The town is a unique gem, so much so, that the entire town has been designated a National Historic landmark.
But for me it’s not just the beautiful homes, main street and of course, the beach, it’s about the wonderful sense of community that exists in the town.
I remember going there with my daughter a week after Hurricane Sandy hit the area to see how her store had fared. She was lucky not to have damage, but the boardwalk area was hit pretty hard. When we got to the boardwalk there were dozens and dozens of residents out there cleaning up the mess. From little ones picking up small pieces of wood to adults of all ages, they were there trying to put things to right.
You’ll see some mention of that in One Summer Night as well, since the hero and heroine, Maggie Sinclair and Owen Pierce, are quite involved in Sea Kiss and helping to keep it thriving.
I hope you enjoyed this look into the inspiration for Sea Kiss, my little town in the At the Shore series. I hope you’ll check out One Summer Night, which is now available for pre-order and will be out in print and e-book on October 3. The second book in the series, What Happens in Summer, will be out in late Spring 2018, and you’ll get to spend some more time with Owen’s brother Jonathan and Maggie’s best friend Connie Reyes. Plus you’ll get to see a little more of Sea Kiss!
An offer that’s impossible to accept…
Maggie Sinclair has tried everything to save her family’s business, including mortgaging their beloved beach house on the Jersey shore. But now, she’s out of options.
The Sinclair and Pierce families have been neighbors and enemies for almost thirty years. That hasn’t stopped Owen Pierce from crushing on Maggie, and he’s determined to invest in her success. Now he has to convince her that he’s more than just trouble with a capital T…