The author of 21 books, Mary Alice Monroe continues to deliver characters we love and stories we crave. “Beach House for Rent” is the fourth book in the Beach House series, and we revisit Cara Rutledge, her husband Brett, as well as other beloved characters on the Isle of Palms.

To her many loyal readers, each new book is like a reunion with old friends. If you are new to Mary Alice Monroe, you have a lot of good books to look forward to. Lucky you.

The setting is Cara’s oceanfront cottage on the Isle of Palms. Close to her heart and far more than just a house, Cara inherited the cottage, named Primrose, from her mother, Lovie.

The long-cherished beach house is filled with warm memories, grounding Cara when work and life careen out of control, soothing her soul, healing her heart.

In “Beach House for Rent,” Cara rents her home to a young woman, an artist in need of precisely such a place. This latest work continues the satisfying tradition of Monroe’s Southern fiction stories about contemporary women and the coastal environment.

During one life-changing summer, Cara and her young renter find they have much in common and form a bond with one another other and a very special beach house.

Monroe sets herself apart from other Southern fiction authors by her extraordinary integration of real-time conservation issues and initiatives into the fabric of the plot and characters.

Previous books have focused on the plight of sea turtles on South Carolina’s barrier islands, bottle-nosed dolphins, Monarch butterflies and more.

In this latest novel, she shines a light on the problems faced by shore birds of the Southeastern coast, including brown pelicans, plovers and sandpipers, and how the irresponsible littering of our oceans and beaches is causing great harm to these beautiful birds.

Monroe does all this without preaching or politicizing. Her readers learn how to help, volunteer initiatives are created, and progress is being made on many fronts. Monroe is much more than a writer. She is a game changer.

Will there be another book in the Beach House series to learn what is next for Heather and Bo on Dewee’s Island? Will we follow Cara’s new career in a new town far from her beloved Primrose? Her readers sure hope so.

Glenda Harris of Bluffton is a freelance writer and editor, nature lover and aspiring novelist.