Maddie Chester is determined to leave her hometown of Gansett Island, a place that has brought her only bad memories and ugly rumors. Then she’s knocked off her bike on the way to her housekeeping job at McCarthy’s Resort Hotel by Gansett’s “favorite son,” Mac McCarthy. He’s back in town to help his father with preparations to sell the family resort and has no intention of staying long. When Mac accidentally sends Maddie flying over the handlebars, badly injuring her, he moves in to nurse her back to health and help care for her young son. He soon realizes his plans for a hit-and-run visit to the island are in serious jeopardy, and he just may be “maid” for love.
Author Marie Force is well know to romance suspense readers through her recent "Fatal . . ." series about a Washington, D.C. detective who fell in love with a United States senator. Such good stories and by the way . . . the fifth story in that series is due late in 2012.
Anyway, this particular novel is the first in an absolutely wonderful series about a fictional island off the Rhode Island coast that is patterned after Block Island. It's premier family is the McCarthy Family and all the stories are built around the experiences with members of that family or their close friends, all of whom are important to the life, commerce, and community sharing of Gansett Island. This first book is the story of oldest son Mac, a man who is a more than successful Florida resident, who has returned to the island due to his doctor's concern over recent panic attacks caused by high stress. It is during one of his sashays through the town that he steps off the curb without looking at oncoming traffic, and is mowed down by Maddie Chester, riding her bicycle to work as a maid at the McCarthy Hotel.
Maddie is a person who has been dubbed a "fallen woman" and has lived with years with a reputation as an "easy" woman every since high school. That she is now the mother of a baby out of wedlock has only cemented that reputation in the minds of most of Gansett Island's residents. But as Mac McCarthy picks himself up off the pavement, he realizes that Maddie is much more seriously injured and being a man of honor, declares that he is going to take care of her until she can return to her life. This is not a decision that is well received by Ms Chester at all, but that doesn't deter Mac. And thus, their relationship begins.Truth be told, Mac has been "knocked off his nine pins" by Maddie and as a man who has never been in love or who has ever believed in "love at first sight," he is completely overwhelmed by his response to this woman who wants absolutely nothing to do with him. And adding insult to injury, it appears that everything Mac tries to do for Maddie only makes people believe even worse about her.
This is a story about family and the bonds that manage to stretch and hold even when tested by life's most strident challenges. Mac's family have always believed Maddie's poor reputation the same as most of the island's residents. In fact, the head of housekeeping at McCarthy's Hotel has always given Maddie the worst rooms to clean and she has always done her job without complaint, knowing that nothing will change. Imagine the chagrin of Mac's mother, owner of the hotel as well as the chagrin of the head of housekeeping when Mac himself shows up to cover Maddie's shift and discovers the crap they have been shoveling at her.
This is also about a very honorable man who falls in love and allows nothing to defame the name and reputation of his lady love. He is a man who also falls in love with her infant son, becomes a babysitter extraordinaire, manages to finally convince others in the community through some creative planning that Maddie has been unjustly labeled. Watching this part of the story unfold is especially heart-warming.
This is indeed a beautiful love story and Ms Force writes about these characters with great skill and sensitivity. We all know people like Mac and Maddie and we "recognize" others in this community--some really fine and some not so fine. We are introduced to Maddie's sister and some of her friends who are quietly supporting her with their friendship even though the majority of people believe the worst. We meet Mac's family, his brothers and sister, and you will most probably come to adore Mac's dad who is known as Big Mac and whose open heart and accepting spirit have set the tone for all the people in his family and that of those with whom he works.
This is a wonderful novel that was released in April, 2011, and I was hooked from the first. I promptly bought every single book in the series and am waiting impatiently for the next book to come out in the Fall, 2012. Each book continues the story of several individuals and couples in addition to those whose love story is being highlighted. It is one of those novels that latches on to the imagination in such a way that the reader wants to experience the life of this island community first hand. Once you read this first novel, you will know why it has achieved such acclaim and is such a favorite. And best of all, right now it is a freebie at Amazon.com.
I think you will really be glad you put this one on your eReader. I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5.