03 June 2011

Heat Wave by Nancy Thayer

Product Description from Amazon.com: "Making the startling discovery that her family finances are in dire straits is only the latest shock endured by Carley Winsted after her husband’s sudden death from a heart attack. Resisting her in-laws’ well-meaning overtures to take in Carley and her two daughters, the young widow instead devises a plan to keep her family in their beloved home, a grand historic house on the island of Nantucket.

The solution is right at Carley’s front door: transforming her expensive, expansive house into a bed-and-breakfast. Not everyone, however, thinks this plan prudent or quite respectable — especially not Carley’s mother-in-law. Further complicating a myriad of challenges, a friend forces Carley to keep a secret that, if revealed, will undo families and friendships.

When her late husband’s former law partner keeps showing up at the most unexpected times, Carley must cope with an array of mixed feelings. And then, during a late-summer heat wave, the lives of Carley and her friends and family will be forever changed in entirely unexpected ways.
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First, let me specify that I received an ARC of this book - the above description comes from amazon.com because the description inside the ARC is clearly of a MUCH earlier version of the book, when the story was intended to take a very different turn!

This novel would make a great beach read, despite beginning with a sad premise (that the heroine (Carley) has just been widowed and finds herself in dire financial straits.) I think Thayer does a great job of introducing complex, interesting female characters - I'm just not sure she does a great job with the follow-through. The trajectory of this novel was highly predictable, and I think cheapened my experience as a reader - as though the author didn't give me enough credit to appreciate a more complex storyline, or the real problems and stresses that the characters would most likely face in real life.

Overall the story is light, a little fluffy and insubstantial for my taste. I enjoyed reading the book, and it was certainly a quick read, but I just wanted more from the story and from the characters - I wanted them to wow or surprise me in some way, and it never happened. I think Thayer has a knack for character creation, I hope she takes it one step farther next time. I give this book 2.5 stars.

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