For four of the best summers of his young life, Luke Harris was in love with Sydney Donovan, a wealthy seasonal visitor to Gansett Island. Then Sydney went off to college and never came back. She married another man and had two children while Luke remained on the island, working at McCarthy's Gansett Marina and wondering what had gone wrong between him and the only woman he ever loved. Fifteen months after Sydney suffers the tragic loss of her husband and children, she's returned to Gansett to figure out what's next, and that may very well be a rekindled love affair with the one man from her past she’s never forgotten. But is she ready for a second chance at love?
He was an upstanding, hard-working young man, but he had not wealth nor was he considered "upper crust." Therefore, the Donovans didn't consider him good enough for their daughter Sydney. In spite of the fact that Luke loved Sydney with a mature and life-long love, she left and never returned until after her family had all been killed in a terrible auto accident and she was truly alone. Now she has returned to Gansett Island with the hope of finding some peace and some relief from her bone-crushing grief and loss. Every night, under the cover of darkness, Luke would quietly come up onto the back section of the Donovan property and silently watch over Sydney, not stalking are planning anything harmful to her. He didn't even hold out any hope for the future with her. He just simply loved her still and needed to be sure she was OK.
This is a story that will indeed pull at your heart strings. Third in the "McCarthys of Gansett Island" series, this is probably the best story so far for a number of reasons. First, it is very emotional and full of pathos--Sydney's sense of loss is at times overwhelming. Luke's deep sadness over the loss of their love affair years earlier has marked him making him even more shy and quiet. Second, as with many series, this book also continues the stories of couples from the first two books as well as the experiences of other full time residents of the island. It continues to be filled with that warmth and togetherness that pervades the other books and which forms the foundation for the relationships that make this such a wonderful place to live. Marie Force has such a compelling style of writing that readers will most accutely feel Sydney's struggles as she wants to move forward yet must deal with that sense of "betraying" or "cheating" on her dead husband as she allows her old love for Luke to resurface. Also, there is the still present sense by Sydney's parents that Luke isn't quite good enough for her and she must make some decisions about who is in control in her life and of her future.
I like series because I like to get deeper into the experiences of the characters, to journey with them into the future, to read about where their lives have gone and how their relationships have played out. Those qualities are very much present in this series and are more evident here than in the preceding novels. Obviously, as the series continues there is that build-up of information about the characters that keep on making their appearances. But there is something very special about Luke and Sydney's story, a kind of love affair that brings on that peculiar version of "warm fuzzies" I feel when a couple seem to fit to an extraordinary degree.
If you like the family-oriented love story mixed in with some spice and set in a delightful island community, you'll love this novel and those that came before it. It is really a joy to read and this author is one that is rapidly becoming one of my favorites. I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5.