A widow faces familiar obstacles while trying to rebuild her life.
Liz Raynor lost her husband Peter to cancer. Financially secure but emotionally adrift at 55, she's searching for a new purpose to her life. Because she's always enjoyed painting, she rents a studio at the Sternberger Artist's Center, where she can experiment, and makes a new friend in writer Rachel Levine, who has the studio next door. When Liz signs up for a class, her instructor Jay Kadlacek offers the distinct possibility of romance. The only fly in the ointment is the visit from Samantha Graves, a young woman who calls her house asking for Peter and bursts into tears when she learns that he's dead. Liz tries to find out why her visitor needs to find Peter, but Samantha has little to say before Liz drops her off at a local motel. Weeks later, while she's working at a homeless shelter, Liz runs into Samantha, who's used up all her money and can't find a job. The unspecified connection to Peter makes Liz decide to take Samantha in. That's a good thing for her guest, because once she finds her a job, the pay still isn't enough to finance a place of her own. Liz's romance with Jay is hindered by Samantha and by Jay's son Brian, a sulky teen on parole for a minor drug charge. Things go from bad to worse when Liz finally discovers Samantha's connection to Peter and major troubles beset both Liz and Jay.
Gates takes time out from her Tommi Poag mysteries (Death at Play, 2008, etc.) for a pleasant but pedestrian romance.