Bartholomew Noon reflects, while watching waves crash on the cliffs, that his celibate marriage with the bitter, malicious Hester erodes his life like the sea erodes the land. When a ship wrecks off the shore of his lighthouse, Bart enlists the aid of his nephew, Pritchard, in bringing the ship's people to safety. During the rescue, Pritchard announces that he's advertised for a bride and she's due to arrive in Portland. He asks Bart to pick her up.
When Ariah Scott's father died, she was forced into marriage with a stranger to escape her mother's vengeful Greek family. Despite other commitments, the two have an awesome effect on each other. He manfully resists intense temptation for most of the stormy journey to the lighthouse, but he hasn't counted on Ariah's feelings. They share a love of philosophy, poetry and an attraction both know they've no right to bring to fulfillment.
The intensity of setting, plot and lovers recalls Ethan Frome. Charlene Raddon meets the challenge with sizzling passion and touches of Pritchard's comic adventures, working out a splendid romantic resolution as different from Edith Wharton as the lush green of Oregon is from cold, snow-covered Maine. (Jan., 384 pp., $4.99)