Summer's Child

Summer's Child

4.2 26
by Luanne Rice

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From Luanne Rice, the celebrated author of Beach Girls and many other New York Times bestsellers, comes this powerful novel of a mystery, a love affair, and a bond that cannot be broken set in a seaside town where miracles are made...

On the first day of summer, Mara

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From Luanne Rice, the celebrated author of Beach Girls and many other New York Times bestsellers, comes this powerful novel of a mystery, a love affair, and a bond that cannot be broken set in a seaside town where miracles are made...

On the first day of summer, Mara Jameson went out to water her garden–and was never seen again. Years after her disappearance, no one could forget the expectant mother whose glowing smile had captured the heart of everyone who’d known her: Maeve Jameson, still mourning the loss of a granddaughter she had struggled to protect…Patrick Murphy, a dogged police detective obsessed with a vanished woman…and Lily Malone, drawn to the rugged beauty of the Nova Scotia coast and its promise of a new life.

Here Lily hopes to raise her nine-year-old daughter, Rose, far from the pain and loss of the past. Here she will meet a gifted scientist, Liam Neill, whose life is on a similar trajectory from heartbreak to hope. And before the season is over, Lily will find the magic that exists in people we love the best…the everyday miracles that can make the extraordinary happen anywhere.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Resonant and beautifully written, this novel offers a lyrical meditation on healing, a setting as soft and colorful as beach glass and a story that's both suspenseful and tender.... Rice excels at weaving the familiar staples of popular fiction into storytelling gold; her talent for portraying both children at risk and good men scarred by circumstance also dazzles. Above all, this book—one of Rice's best in recent years—depicts the magical endurance of love with the sensitivity and realism for which she's known."--Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"Rice, a terrific storyteller and a poetic stylist, takes on a difficult and brutal subject and transforms it into a source of light and hope."—Booklist

Publishers Weekly
Resonant and beautifully written, this novel offers a lyrical meditation on healing, a setting as soft and colorful as beach glass and a story that's both suspenseful and tender. Lily Malone and her daughter, Rose, have built a happy life in Cape Hawk, Nova Scotia, despite the ever-present fear that the abusive husband Lily has fled will find them. Old memories surface as Rose becomes friends with a girl whose wary mom is hiding a similar past. When Rose's congenital heart defect forces her to undergo open-heart surgery, Lily also faces her conflicting feelings for marine biologist Liam Neill, whose unflinching support she has been too emotionally scarred to accept. Ultimately, Liam's love and Rose's recovery give her the strength to confront her longing for the past-and the loved one-she has left behind. Rice (Dance with Me) excels at weaving the familiar staples of popular fiction into storytelling gold; her talent for portraying both children at risk and good men scarred by circumstance also dazzles. Above all, this book-one of Rice's best in recent years-depicts the magical endurance of love with the sensitivity and realism for which she's known. Agent, Andrea Cirillo at the Jane Rotrosen Literary Agency. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.19(w) x 6.87(h) x 1.18(d)

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Chapter 1

Being retired had its pluses. For one thing, it was good to be ruled by the tide tables instead of department shifts and schedules. Patrick Murphy kept the small Hartford Courant tide card tacked up by the chart table, but he barely needed it anymore. He swore his body was in sync with the ebb and flow of Silver Bay—he'd be pulled out of bed at the craziest hours, in the middle of the night, at slack tides, prime times to fish the reefs and shoals around the Stone Mill power plant.

Stripers up and down the Connecticut shoreline didn't stand a chance. They hadn't for the two years, seven months, three weeks, and fourteen days since Patrick had retired at the age of forty-three. This was the life. This was really the life, he told himself. He had lost the house, but he had the boat, the truck. This was what people worked their whole lives for: to retire to the beach and fish the days away.

He thought of Sandra, what she was missing. They had had a list of dreams they would share after he left the Connecticut State Police: walk the beaches, try every new restaurant in the area, go to the movies, hit the casinos, take the boat out to Block Island and Martha's Vineyard. They were still young—they could have a  blast.

A blast, he thought. Now—instead of the fun he had thought they would have together—"blast" made him think of the divorce, with its many shocks and devastations, the terrible ways both lawyers had found to make a shambles of the couple they had once been.

Fishing helped. So did the Yankees—they had snapped their losing streak and just kept on winning. Many the night Patrick combined the two—casting and drifting, listening to John Sterling and Charlie Steiner call the game, cheering for the Yanks to win another as he trolled for stripers, as his boat slipped east on the current.

Other things pulled him out of his bunk too. Dreams with dark tentacles; bad men still on the run after Patrick's best waking efforts to catch them; a lost girl; shocks and attacks and bone-rattling fears that gave new meaning to Things That Go Bump in the Night. Patrick would wake up with a pounding heart, thinking of how terrified she must have been.

Whether she was murdered, dead and buried all these years, or whether something had happened to drive her from her house, her grandmother's rose garden, to someplace so far away she had never been seen again, her fear must have been terrible.

That's the thing he could never get out of his mind.

What fears had Mara Jameson felt? Even now, his imagination grabbed hold of that question and went wild. The case was nine years old, right at the top of his unsolved pile. The paperwork had been his albatross, his constant companion. The case was the rock to Patrick's Sisyphus, and he had never—not even after it promised to ruin his marriage, not even after it made good on that promise, not even now, after retirement—never stopped pushing it up the hill.

Mara's picture. It sat on his desk. He used to keep it right beside his bed—to remind him of what he had to do when he got up. Look for the sweet girl with the heartbreak smile and the laughing eyes. Now he didn't really need the picture. Her face was ingrained into his soul. He knew her expressions by heart, the way other men knew their wives, girlfriends, lovers. . . .

She'd be with him forever, he thought, climbing out of bed at five-thirty a.m. He had only the vaguest idea of what his dream had been—something about blood spatter on the kitchen floor, the spidery neon-blue patterns revealed by the blood-detecting luminol, trickles and drops . . . spelling, in Patrick's dream, the killer's name. But it was in Latin, and Patrick couldn't understand; besides, who could prove she'd been killed when her body had never been found?

He rubbed his eyes, started the coffee, then pulled on shorts and sweatshirt. The morning air felt chilly; a front had passed through last night, violent thunderstorms shaking the rafters, making Flora hide under the bed. The black Lab rubbed up against him now, friendly bright eyes flashing, knowing a boat ride was in their future.

Heading up on deck, he breathed in the salt air. The morning star blazed in the eastern sky, where the just-about-rising sun painted the dark horizon with an orange glow. His thirty-two-foot fishing boat, the Probable Cause, rocked in the current. After the divorce, he'd moved on board. Sandra had kept the house on Mill Lane. It had all worked out fine, except now the boatyard was going to be turned into condos. Pretty soon all of New England would be one big townhouse village, complete with dockominiums . . . and Patrick would have to shove off and find a new port.

Hearing footsteps on the gravel, he peered into the boatyard. A shadow was coming across the sandy parking lot; Flora growled. Patrick patted her head, then went down below to get two mugs of coffee. By the time he was back on deck, he saw Flora wagging her tail, eyes on the man standing on the dock. Angelo Nazarena.

"Don't tell me," Patrick said. "You smelled the coffee."

"Nah," Angelo said. "I got up early and saw the paper; I figured you needed company so you wouldn't get drunk or do something really stupid. Longest day of the year's tomorrow, and the articles are starting already. . . ." He held the Hartford Courant in one hand, but accepted the heavy blue mug in the other as he stepped aboard.

"I don't drink anymore," Patrick said. He wanted to read the story but didn't—at the same time. "As you well know. Besides, I'm not speaking to you. You're selling my dock."

"Making millions in the bargain," Angelo chuckled. "When my grandfather bought this land, it was considered crap. The wrong side of the railroad bridge, next to a swamp, stinking like clam flats. But he was smart enough to know waterfront is solid gold, and I'm cashing in. Good coffee."

Patrick didn't reply. He was staring at Mara's picture on the front page. It had been taken in her grandmother's rose garden—ten miles from here, at her pretty silver-shingled cottage at Hubbard's Point. The camera had caught the light in her eyes—the thrill, the joy, that secret she always seemed to be holding back. Patrick had the feeling he so often had—that if he leaned close enough, she'd whisper to him, tell him what he so desperately wanted to know. . . .

"These papers really get a lot of mileage out of nothing," Angelo said, shaking his head. "The poor girl's been gone nine years now. She's fish food, we all know that."

"Your Sicilian lineage is showing."

"She's gone, Patrick. She's dead," Angelo said, sharply now. He and Patrick had gone to school together, been altar boys at St. Agnes's together, been best man at each other's weddings. He and

Patsy had introduced him to Sandra.

"The husband did it, right?"

"I thought so, for a long time," Patrick said.

"What was his name, though . . . he had a different last name from Mara. . . ."

"His name is Edward Hunter. Mara had her own career. She kept her own name when she married him."

And now Patrick saw Edward Hunter's handsome charm-boy face, his stockbroker's quick, sharp smile—as wide and bright as Mara's, but without one ounce of her heart, soul, depth, integrity, authenticity, spark. . . . As a state cop, Patrick had encountered smiles like Edward Hunter's thousands of times. The smiles of men pulled over for speeding on their way home from places they shouldn't have been, the smiles of men at the other end of a domestic violence call—smiling men trying to convince the world they were better than the circumstances made them seem and reminding Patrick that "smile" was really just "slime" spelled sideways.

"Everyone thought so—not just you. But the bastard didn't leave a body behind. So you can't try him, and it's time for you—"

"We could have tried to pull a Richard Crafts," Patrick said, naming Connecticut's infamous killer convicted of murdering his wife, whose body was never found, on the basis of a few fragments of hair and bone found in a rented wood chipper. "But we didn't even have enough for that. I couldn't even find enough evidence for that."

"Like I was saying, it's time you moved on."

"Okay, thanks," Patrick said, his expression saying why didn't I think of that?, his Irish rising as he faced his friend Angelo—who had brought over the morning paper with Mara's face on the front page, who was about to sell his boat slip right out from under him. Flora had gone for a run around the still-deserted parking lot, and now she leapt back aboard the boat.

"What I mean is . . ." Angelo said, trying to find the words to fill the hole he'd opened up.

"What you mean is, it's time I got a life, I know," Patrick said, giving his old friend an old-friends glance—the kind of look that tells them they know you better than anyone, that you take their point, that they were right all along, when what you really want is to just shut them up and get them off your case.

"Yeah. To be honest, that's what I mean," Angelo said, chuckling with relief even as Patrick was folding up the newspaper and tossing it through the hatch—purportedly for disposal but actually to save forever.

As he saved all of Mara's pictures.

Because, he thought as he started up the engine and Angelo cast off the lines, as they headed out to the fishing grounds, it was one of the ways he had found to keep her alive. That, and one other way . . .

The whole world assumed that Mara Jameson and her unborn baby had died all those nine years ago, and they still did. Patrick thought back to his Catholic childhood, that phrase in the Creed: We believe . . . in all that is seen and unseen. It was pretty much impossible to have faith in what you couldn't see. And the world hadn't seen Mara in over nine years.

Backing out of the slip, hitting the bow thrusters, he eased into the channel. The boat chuffed through the deepening water as gray herons watched silently from shadows along the green marshy shore. The rising sun shone through scrub oaks and white pines. Bursts of gold glittered on the water ahead.

The dead never stayed hidden. The earth gave them up, one way or another. Patrick knew they were relentless in their need to be found. The Tibetan Book of the Dead described the hungry ghosts, tormented by unbearable heat, thirst, hunger, weariness, and fear. Their realm seemed familiar to Patrick; having spent his career investigating homicides, he believed that the dead had their own emotions, that they haunted the living until they were found.
And Mara had never been found.

After all the work he'd done on her case, Patrick believed he would know—deep inside his own body—if she were dead. He felt Mara Jameson in his mind, his skin, his heart. He carried her with him every day, and he knew he'd never be able to put her down until he knew for sure what had happened to her. Where she was . . .

The birds were working up ahead, marking a school of blues just before the red nun buoy. Angelo got the rods ready. Flora stood beside Patrick's side; her body pressed against his leg as he hit the throttle and sped toward the fish and tried in vain to escape the thoughts that haunted him wherever he went.

And he knew that when he got back, he'd be ready to write her this year's letter.

Ah, it was about to start again. As it did every year at this time. Just as the last traces of New England's long chill were gone from the air, just as the birds had returned north from their winter's journeys, just as the roses were coming into bloom and the gardens were awash with color, just as summer solstice was upon them, with its gift of the longest day . . . the time had come around again.

Maeve Jameson stood in her garden, pruning. She wore a wide straw hat, white linen shirt, and hot-pink garden gloves. In spite of all the cover-ups, she also wore sunscreen. They hadn't known about sun damage when she was a girl—they had all thought the sun was the great healing force—the more of it the better.

But she'd had a small skin cancer removed from her cheek last year, and was determined to do her best to keep it from happening again, to stay as healthy as she could, to stay alive until she knew the entire truth.

She had always been fastidious about putting lotion on her granddaughter. Mara had had such fair skin—so typically Irish, pale and freckled. Her parents—Mara's, that is—had been killed in a freak ferry accident on a trip to Mara's mother's hometown in the west of Ireland.

Maeve had taken over raising their daughter, their only child; every time she'd ever looked at Mara, she'd seen her son, Billy, and she'd loved her so much, more than the stars in the sky, more than anything—because she was a direct link to her darling boy, and she'd dutifully put sunscreen all over her freckled skin before letting her go down to the beach.

"You have the soul of your father in your blue eyes," Maeve would say, spreading the lotion.

"And my mother?"

"Yes, Anna too," Maeve would say, because she had loved her Irish daughter-in-law almost as if she'd been her own child. But the truth was, Mara had been all-Billy to Maeve. Maeve couldn't help herself.

So now she just stood in her garden, clipping the dead heads from the rosebushes. She tried to concentrate on finding the three-leaf sets, but she was distracted by the two news people standing out by the road. They had their cameras out, clicking away. Tomorrow—the anniversary of Mara's disappearance—the headlines would no doubt read, "Grandmother Still Waiting after All These Years" or "Roses for Mara's Remembrance" or some other malarkey.

The local news people had always made a cartoon of the situation—tried to boil everything down into an easily palatable story for their readers to understand. When no one knew the whole truth—except Mara. Edward had played his part in the terrible drama, and Maeve knew some segments, but only Mara knew it all.

Only Mara had endured it.

The state police detective had learned some of it. Patrick Murphy, another Hibernian, although not in the tradition of Irish cops that Maeve remembered from growing up in the South End of Hartford.
Those fellows had been tough, all steel, no nonsense, and they'd seen the world in black and white. Everything was one way or another. Not Patrick.

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Summer's Child 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
trbCA More than 1 year ago
Reading it now. Love the dual storyline. Imagine it will have the usual happy ending, at least I hope so because I like the characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really super good just a little slow but not in necessarily a bad way
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jbarr5 More than 1 year ago
Summer's Child by Luanne Rice This is the first story of Mara Jameson. She had gotten married and was pregnant. Then she just disappeared and years later no one had heard of her again. Patrick Murphy is the retired state police detective who is intrigued by the reports of Maya and tries to track her down by clues left. Her parents are dead and she had lived with her grandmother, Mauve. Mauve's best friend, Clara grew up together in the seaside town of Hubbard's Point. At Cape Hawk Rose plays with Jessica and it's close to her birthday and she has high hopes of seeing the whale, Nanny who comes to visit her every summer. Capt Hook is the local oceanographer and has a love interest in Lily and captain of the ferry where he has an office near Rose's mom yarn shop where Rose's mom, Lily rented the store along with an apartment for them both. Jessica can't even tell her best friend that her birthday is the same date as Roses cuz her dad might come find them and make them go back to live with him. She has bad dreams of what he did to a dog. She is now happy to be away from him where nobody knows them. hate how the husband they ran away from uses the internet to get others to send him money and to trick her into sending a message under one of her alias names. He will be able to track down where she is now. Reminds me of one coming into an authors chat saying her daughter and family had gotten burnt out of their home and she loves to read. Ended up getting the author to send her books and I'm thinking to myself what's wrong with the free library? Hope it didnt happen and I do hate scammers. Cool to have all these various stories connected by just one person. Like how the stories are all told. Love new things this book has taught me, pocket rosary also known as chapette, i've made these for nursing home. Also pine needle pillows-how neat of an idea! This book follows Rose's journey to better health. There are just a few things that link this whole book and all the characters together. What a tale!
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Tiffani Flores More than 1 year ago
I loved it great read. i wish there had been more with the ending. But I still enjoyed it.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I purchased Summer of Roses to read while vacationing only to find out it was a sequel. I headed out to get Summer's Child. Could I read it all before I left? Not a problem. I have read about five of Luanne Rice's books. This is by far the best yet even though I have enjoyed her others immensely! It had everything--mystery, romance, family love. It endears the reader. This is a must read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was like watching a good lifetime movie's deffently worth reading
Guest More than 1 year ago
The sweetest story. Made you feel like you really knew the characters and were really there with them
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a splendid book, totally recommended for everyone. It is loving, kind, funny and touches the heart, some parts made me wanna cry and then other parts laugh. I will be buying Summer of Roses (second part to this book)...cannot wait to receive it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was not one of Luann Rice's better books. It seemed very confusing in the beginning and seemed like too many story lines in one plot. About half way through it did get better than turned into a page turner at that point. I just started the sequel to this and it seems much better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the kind of book that you really care about the characters and what happens to them. Summer's child is a defenite must read
Guest More than 1 year ago
Am reading this book now & enjoying every page. Have read many Luanne Rice novels & find each a reading pleasure.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Every June 21, the Connecticut media makes a big show of the vanishing of pregnant pixie Mara Jameson nine years ago. Like everyone else retired State Police Officer Patrick Murphy, who worked the still unsolved case, reflects on how the married Mara went out to work her grandmother¿s rose garden, but vanished; but unlike most people who believe her spouse Edward Hunter got away with killing Mara Patrick believes she is alive....................... In Cape Hawk near the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Lily Malone owns the store In Stitch while raising her almost nine years old daughter Rose alone. Rose has a heart condition that has required surgery and will require one more operation. Lily reflects back to when she was Mara knowing she misses her beloved grandmother but fears what Edward would do to their child if he ever found them; that dread that he will do something ugly made her run in the first place. However, the past is catching up to Lily who fears Rose will be his victim if he finds them................ The suspense grips the audience from the start even though the lead protagonist does not make an appearance until a few chapters into the gripping story line. Instead readers ¿see¿ Mara through the eyes of her grandmother and Patrick; ironically Edward¿s perspective comes out much later well after the audience has met Lily, Rose, the child¿s best friend Jess and their kind neighbor Dr. Liam Niell. Lily is a courageous soul struggling not to be a ¿bruised rose¿ before returning home (see the upcoming SUMMER OF ROSES for those events) with Liam at her side ready to protect both of his females................ Harriet Klausner