Tragedy and grief haunt Anne Davis as she returns to her childhood home on one of New England's tiny islands. Once Anne lived the perfect life, but now her marriage is over and her beloved four-year-old daughter Karen has been killed in a tragic fall.

When a fire breaks out in the house, Anne tempts disaster by going into the burning building to retrieve her last precious remembrances of Karen. Fireman Thomas X. Devlin braves the burning structure and manages to pull Anne to safety. At first he can't comprehend what drove Anne back into the fire, but upon learning of her tragic loss, Thomas understands why that crayon drawing was so precious. Many years earlier, Thomas lost his wife in the fire that horribly scared his face and body. For the first time in many years, Thomas feels a stirring of interest for a woman. But Anne is a wounded individual who must heal before she will be ready and able to love once more.

Anne's niece Maggie Vincent is in the midst of teenage rebellion. She can't relate to her parents, but her fears, her friends, and her boyfriend are leading her down the path to nowhere. Surprisingly, it is Thomas' teenage son Ned that lights an unexpected spark in Maggie.

Ned has his own demons to work through, as he finds it difficult to accept his father's relationship with Anne. Each of them is on the brink of a new love and life, if they are strong enough to face the tests looming before them.

As she has done in past novels, Luanne Rice achieves astonishing depth and realism with her characters and their complex emotional lives. A most beautiful and absorbing novel. (Aug., 320pp., $21.95)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith