A Summer Affair (Calhoun Chronicles Series #5)

( 24 )

Overview

A gifted but troubled physician, Blue Calhoun runs a thriving medical practice from his Nob Hill mansion in San Francisco while raising his son alone after an unthinkable tragedy. Then one day a female fugitive with a gunshot wound appears in Blue's surgery. Even though she holds a pistol aimed at his heart, the desperation in her eyes awakens Blue's compassion. Reluctantly he is drawn to her fragile beauty, her nerves of steel and the mystery surrounding her circumstances.

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Overview

A gifted but troubled physician, Blue Calhoun runs a thriving medical practice from his Nob Hill mansion in San Francisco while raising his son alone after an unthinkable tragedy. Then one day a female fugitive with a gunshot wound appears in Blue's surgery. Even though she holds a pistol aimed at his heart, the desperation in her eyes awakens Blue's compassion. Reluctantly he is drawn to her fragile beauty, her nerves of steel and the mystery surrounding her circumstances.

Isabel Fish-Wooten has spent most of her life on the run, but everything changes when she forces a stranger to save her life. Yet her rescue comes with an unexpected price. As Isabel recovers from her wounds, she finds herself touched by this remarkable man and yearns to reach out to him and his rebellious son.

From danger-filled back alleys to the glittering ballrooms of high society, Isabel and Blue confront the violence and corruption that threatens their newfound passion. Theirs is an unforgettable quest to discover a rare and special love, and the precious gift of a second chance at happiness.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Veteran writer Wiggs (Enchanted Afternoon, etc.) skillfully conveys the edginess of Victorian San Francisco in this stirring romance. Since the violent death of his beloved wife, doctor Blue Calhoun has been too guilty and grief-stricken to fall in love again. Instead, he ministers to the city's many unfortunates and spars with his rebellious son. His heart thaws only when he is forced to save a wounded young woman who may have shot a city policeman. Born into poverty, Isabel Fish-Wooten has adopted the persona of aristocratic adventurer in order to make money, flee her painful history and satisfy her boundless energy. Now, as she recuperates in Blue's home, she experiences the warmth of belonging-and true love-for the first time. Blue feels the same passion, but their attraction is shadowed by the truth about Isabel's past and the still-unsolved shooting. Wiggs richly evokes her multi-faceted setting while depicting equally complex human relationships-from the lovers themselves to the network of affectionate, opinionated friends and family that surround them. For all the period appeal of its joss houses and society balls, the story's theme-the all-encompassing power of love-is timeless, and it is this theme, along with the author's polished prose and well-rounded characters, that makes Wiggs's story so satisfying. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780778329589
  • Publisher: Mira
  • Publication date: 2/1/2010
  • Series: Calhoun Chronicles Series , #5
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 182,741
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Wiggs is the author of many beloved bestsellers, including the popular Lakeshore Chronicles series. She has won many awards for her work, including a RITA from Romance Writers of America. Visit her website at www.SusanWiggs.com.

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Read an Excerpt

He never even knew her name. Not her age, nor her favorite color, nor what she looked like when she smiled. All he knew for certain was that she had been a prostitute, and she had ingested too much black drop opium.

As though searching for some rationale for the tragedy, he made a final study of her gaunt, bony face, her frizzy hair the color of a brass spittoon. One arm was permanently disfigured from a poorly-healed break; it must have ached for years. Yet in spite of all that, she was oddly beautiful, almost defiantly so in the face of the grotesque indignities heaped upon her by life, and now by death.

Strange that he would be the last to look upon her.

In a ritual he'd performed far too many times, he tucked her into a bleached canvas shroud. The garment had been hand sewn and donated by the Ladies Aid Guild, whose members gossiped and drank imported tea as they performed good works for the betterment of society.

He pulled the drawstring tight. Then he rolled the creaking wheeled cot out through the back of the building and stepped into the thick, cool air. San Francisco was a different place at the hollow hour between dark and dawn.

Night still haunted the city, darkness clinging in corners and crevices of the waterfront district, lingering under the bows of ships in the harbor and trailing down crooked stairways that led to dank-smelling basements. He checked his pocket watch. The colorless limbo would linger for another hour before first light smeared the foggy sky over the bay.

Travelers often remarked that San Francisco had grown into one of the world's great places, but he wouldn't know about that. These days he rarely left the city, anyway.

A rescue wagon, serving double duty as a morgue transport, backed up to the raised bay jutting out into the alley. "Let me give you a hand with that, Dr. Calhoun." Willie Bean, his orderly, jumped down from the driver's bench.

Together, with as much reverence as they could manage, they loaded the nameless woman into the wicker morgue casket on the flatbed cart.

Blue Calhoun tucked a stray corner of the shroud down into the casket, lowered the lid, then buckled the fastener to hold it shut. The ancient leather strap, cracked from frequent use, practically crumbled in his hand as he cinched it tight. The lid sprang upward several inches.

He stared at the broken curl of leather. "This is useless," he said.

"She won't notice," Willie pointed out.

"I will." The idea of the woman being driven through the city streets, her casket lid flapping open at every bump in the road, made him want to growl with frustration. He unbuckled the belt at his waist and yanked it through the trouser loops. Then he passed the supple Italian leather through the lid closure and fastened it securely. Feeling Willie's stare, Blue became conscious of the jerky, repressed violence of his movements.

He took a deep breath and stepped away from the wagon. Working half the night to save a woman beyond saving had left him exhausted and emptied out. "Ready," he said, signaling for Willie to go.

"You can't save them all, Doc." Willie took the reins. He clicked his tongue and drove off, the wagon disappearing into the weightless veil of fog until only the hollow clop of the horse's hooves could be heard. By this time tomorrow, the dead woman would be loaded into a contract box and buried among the sagebrush and sand dunes of Lime Kiln Point at a cost of $2.60 to the City and County of San Francisco.

Blue heard a few muffled pops—fireworks, or more likely, gunshot, coming from the waterfront district. He was so hardened to the sound that he felt no alarm.

He rotated his aching shoulders, feeling knots and twinges of tension in every fiber of his body. His meddlesome friends and well-meaning family liked to remind him that he was a vigorous man in his prime, but he didn't feel that way at all. Each patient tore off a little piece of his heart, yet he carried on. This was his entire life now. He didn't know what else to do.

Long ago, he'd stopped questioning himself. It didn't matter why he was compelled to go down to the seamy underbelly of the city, night after night, to find the sickest, most hopeless souls, to gather them in like a blighted harvest, to nurture and heal, or to comfort and then let go. It took a certain measure of arrogance to practice medicine with such doggedness, but it was more than arrogance that drove him. He was like a miner who kept sifting and searching through the detritus of humanity for a glint of redemption. No matter how many people he rescued, dozens or hundreds or more, all his heroics would never make up for the one he'd failed to save.

He had spent the past ten years trying to reclaim that moment.

The distant bong of the clock in Montgomery Square signaled five o'clock. It was as good a time as any to head home, catch a few hours' sleep, then see his regular patients. The medical wing of the Mission Rescue League would be served during the day by his associates. The league was staffed by nuns and volunteers whose chief qualification was the only one that really mattered—compassion.

He collected his heavy satchel, jammed on a hard felt Homburg hat that had seen better days and climbed into his one-horse phaeton, a sporting vehicle he favored for the speed of getting through the city streets. Few horses had the strength and stamina to climb the undulating hills of San Francisco, and people generally made use of the cable cars whose steel ropes connected the commercial area like thick webs.

Blue rarely used cable cars. His horses came from his family's own breeding farm. He'd left behind a haunted childhood and grew up there, racing along the seaside cliffs on light-boned, muscular horses that quickly became famous throughout the region. Life had been unimaginably sweet there, at the ranch his parents called Cielito, so sweet it had left him ill-prepared for the harshness of the world.

He'd learned the easy lessons of life but not the hard ones. He used to believe life was made for joy and that love lasted forever. He joined the Union Army, and he actually believed at the outset that he fought for a just cause. Only later did he discover that even justice had its horrors. And the war was not even the worst thing that had happened to him.

He drove through the damp miasma rolling in off the bay. His route took him past filthy-looking hells with signs advertising Steam Beer, Five Cents. He passed the occasional reeling drunk, busy hod carrier, scurrying woman or furtive child fleeing with stolen goods.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 24 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2003

    The perfect summer read = A guilt-free affair

    This is the kind of book you pick up and get sucked right into the pages. At first, it all seems so melancholy and atmospheric but then, Isabel brings the light of love and laughter into the life of Dr Blue Calhoun and his teenaged son Lucas. But she is a traveler and she much move on. He is a doctor and he's not going anywhere. Will they ever find a way to happily ever after? Well this is a Wiggs book. Of course they will. But getting there is the fun part. A book to sit back and enjoy!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2012

    SUSAN WIGGS "A SUMMER AFFAIR"

    IF YOU LIKE SUSAN WIGGS, YOU'LL ENJOY BLUE & ISABEL'S STORY.

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  • Posted October 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A summer affair

    I usually don't like any sort of romance novels, but one day I picked this one up and started reading. It starts off interestingly enough, and held my attention for the remainder of the book. I usually don't like romance books because they're predictable and.. well, kind of desperately graphic. But A Summer Affair was pleasantly different. The "lovemaking scene" wasn't too crass, and I fell in love with the characters- something I've never done before for this kind of novel in particular.
    If you're looking for a refreshing break from the usual, I suggest this book to you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2005

    This One Is A Real Page Turner...

    This is the first novel I¿ve read by Susan Wiggs. I bought her book ¿A Summer Affair¿ via B & N as the reviews were good and she showed up as a popular romance novelist. I was really pleased upon finishing the book to find it was a real gem of a story. I liked first and foremost that neither the heroine, Isabel nor the hero, Blue were the typical leads you read about. Instead, she was a woman who came from the slums of a workhouse, was abandoned by her family and became a person of her choosing. She traveled the world and did as she wanted in order to make a life for herself she never had as a child. This sense of adventure and wonder made her interesting, appealing and lovable to all who met her. In turn, Blue was a family man ¿ surrounded by a honest and true son, warm parents, female siblings and friends he met during the war. Blue was dedicated to helping the poor and infirm and was the beloved town doctor. I liked that they met after Isabel was shot in a dangerous event down at the docs and she held Blue at gun point to help her recover. Suspicious activity occurred at the docks and questions arose around Isabel over who and what she really was. In time, events unfolded to show Blue that mourning the loss of his first wife was right but, so was moving on to a new life. Blue found through Isabel that learning to laugh, love and enjoy life again was the best thing to do. Isabel in turn learned that she didn¿t have to move to a new location each season in order to constantly leave her past behind. She understood finally that seasons of joy can be never ending and that love can make the past go away. Love and intimacy scenes were limited in this book ¿ only a few and minor at that. When a book is this well written ¿ strong characters, positive and witty dialogue and interesting plots ¿ the love scenes take on less importance. I really liked this writers strong descriptions and in depth detailing when describing locations, events and emotions ¿ it really draws you in. These characters grew on you as the book went on. The side characters of sisters, friends and family were also warmly told and that made for a richer story line. Everyone was so likable that you really wished to meet them! You know an author has done a great job when you wish other characters in the book would be developed too and that through other stories you can meet the main characters again one day to see where they are at. I will buy more novels by this author and hope for additional characters and stories that stay with you long after the last page has turned. Happy reading!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2005

    SMOOTH READ

    IF YOU CRAVE ROMANCE NOVELS THAT ARE FAST PACED-EROTIC AND FULL OF RAKES AND 'JUST SO FEMALES' DON'T READ THIS BOOK. ON THE OTHER HAND I DO AND READ THE BOOK FOR THE SAKE OF HAVING SOMETHING TO OCCUPY MY TIME. I NOW HAVE READ IT NO LESS THAN 10 TIMES AND WILL READ MANY MORE TIMES IN THE FUTURE. THE STORY IS SLOW AND PACED BUT CREEPS UP BEHIND YOU AND HITS YOU SQUARE BETWEEN THE EYES. ON A SENSUAL SCALE OF 1-10 IT IS NO MORE THAN A 3 AND THE ENCOUNTER IS JUST THAT ONE ENCOUNTER.IT IS REFRESHING THAT BLUE IS NOT A RAKE-SCOUNDREL OR OTHERWISE A NOT NICE MAN WHO NEEDS TO BE REFORMED. HE ONLY NEEDS TO BE BROUGHT BACK TO THE PRESENT AND TO FIND HE CAN LOVE AGAIN.I RARELY GIVE BOOKS 5 STARS BUT THIS SOFTLY WRITTEN BOOK CERTAINLY DESERVES THEM.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2004

    Susan Wiggs Fan

    I was really looking forward to this book. I enjoyed the glimpses of Isabel Fish-Wooten in her other books. This one lived up to my expectations. If you like susan wiggs, you'll enjoy this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2003

    The special joy of falling in love

    I have always wanted to know what happened to Blue Calhoun ever since I read The Horsemaster's Daughter. He was a very troubled boy in that book. It's just so perfect that he became a doctor--and a widower, too. Isabel hides her troubles behind her devil-may-care attitude, but Blue sees right through it. This is a book about the very special joy and wonder of falling in love. For Blue and Isabel, and also for Blue's teenaged son, Lucas, who loses his heart to a Chinese American Girl. No matter how life has damaged you, you deserve a happy ending, and this book gives you that.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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