Jean L. Sears
1965, Western Publishing Company
edition shown: 1969 Golden Press, A Golden Griffon Romance, il. Luciana Roselli
Suddenly Cindy's throat thickened, for in Mr. Marshall's eyes she caught the same flash of pity she had seen so often in Diane's. They knew what was wron. They understood her dread of going home to face her parents - and to look at that empty chair.
It's been five months since 16-year-old Cindy's older brother died in a car crash, and her mother is just going through the motions. Struggling with her own grief and trying to take care of her mother, Cindy has been looking forward to their annual summer at her grandmother's San Francisco home and is devastated when it's cancelled. Lonely now that her best friend has gone away for the summer, she wanders down to the beach of her California town and discovers surfing. And the local surf god, Bix, who swoops in to rescue her when - well, when he nearly runs her over. She doesn't mind, considering their ah, romantic ride back to the beach.
Crouching low while balancing with his feet tensed on the board's slippery surface, he did an about-face. Cindy took a deep breath, then hooked her legs around his muscular waist. A minute later, he lifted her knees up so that she was astride his broad shoulders.
Bix is a poster boy for the California coast -
His blond hair gleamed in the sun, and there were little white squint lines around the tanned skin on his temples, as if he had looked at a lot of oceans and smiled at a lot of pretty girls.
- and Cindy makes an impression by snapping a photo of him that gets picked up by a local newspaper, boosting his already high image and ego. Then she learns to surf well and, with her fearlessness, wins him completely. Or as completely as you can win over a guy like Bix.
Other plot points involve Heather, a rich girl whose bout of polio has left her with a crippled leg, and the tension between Bix's quintessentially middle-class surfing club and the beach bums.
Bix's usually affable face hardened before he answered. "Beach bums!" He shook his head disgustedly. "They do anything for show, and they give the rest of us a bad name with their peroxided hair and wild parties."
Cindy's a likeable heroine, kind enough that her first instinct is to protect her heartbroken mother but sensible enough to rebel when her mother's initial foray out of grieving selfishness is to question her daughter's new hobby. The California surfing scene feels like something out of the world of Gidget, and it's oddly impossible to imagine those nice, healthy, clean-cut early 1960's kids as surfers looking darkly at wild beach bums. Didn't the beach bums win that war?
About the Author
Born in Kansas, Sears had a mother (Ruth McCarthy Sears) who wrote gothic mysteries and young adult romances. Sears was a freelance writer who also wrote nurse romances and for Catholic publications.
The original book, which is so less attractive I've swapped it out for the paperback above:
Ski Resort Nurse
Las Vegas Nurse
Vintage Nurse Romance Novels - blog with reviews of Sears's nurse novels