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Heat Wave by Nancy Thayer

Heat Wave is the first novel I've read by Nancy Thayer.  She lives and writes on Nantucket, and the setting for this novel is Nantucket.  In the beginning of the book the story of Carley and her daughters is what captured my interest as opposed to the writing (which nearly made me ditch it)--there were several pages that I skipped/skimmed over because they were a little boring.  Several chapters in is when the major drama starts.

In the wake of her husband's sudden death, Carley is struggling--with her finances, with the tension that occasionally blooms into conflict with her eldest daughter, and with the increasing tensions between herself and her in-laws, especially her meddling and interfering mother-in-law.  After Gus' death, Carley discovers that due to some bad investments her husband made, she's left penniless to raise their two daughters.  A stay-at-home mother, Carley never went to college, never pursued a career, has no job skills to speak of, and she hasn't held a job in over a decade.  She's at loose ends and limited in what she can do to make money to support herself and her daughters.

A tag sale (of which her in-laws severely disapprove because that's just not how we do) brings in enough money to tide Carley and the girls over for a month or two.  When Carley stumbles upon the idea to convert part of her home into a bed and breakfast, she realizes that it's a perfect fit--she can work from home and be available for the girls, she loves people, and she's a great baker, cook and decorator.  Best of all, it sparks an energy and an excitement in Carley.  However, her in-laws are aghast at the idea of turning the family home, a home which was in Carley's mother-in-law's family for generations, into a business.  Annabel, Carley's mother-in-law, is vehemently opposed to the idea.  But Carley is determined to maintain her independence and remain in the home in which she's raised her daughters because moving in with her husband's parents, as they've offered her to do, would mean more than giving up self-sufficiency and independence, it would effectively cede control of her life and raising of her daughters to her in-laws.

For a while in the book, Carley's in-laws become increasingly controlling, interfering and meddlesome in Carley's and her daughters' lives and the relationships between Carley and her daughters in the wake of their son's death.  Annabel specifically and especially is meddlesome in the mother/daughter relationship between Carley and her eldest, pre-teen daughter, and appears to be attempting to drive a wedge between mother and daughter.  However, the brewing massive confrontation stemming from the tensions between Carley and her in-laws and her in-laws' behavior never develops and is really only present in the first part of the book before it's jettisoned in favor of more melodramatic drama.

As if healing from the loss of her husband isn't enough, Carley discovers her best friend, Maud, is conducting an illicit affair with the husband of their other best friend, Vanessa.  Maud insists on swearing Carley to secrecy until the man decides to leave his wife for Maud thus imploding the three women's friendships forever.  Unfortunately the friendships between the three women never recover--and Maud doesn't seem to mind this fact because after her own husband left her several years ago, she finally has a man willing to share her life and help her raise her sons.  Then Carley falls into an unexpected (and secret!) romance with Wyatt, Gus' best friend.  Carley is reluctant to get involved in a serious relationship so soon after Gus' death, especially since she has the feelings of her daughters and her in-laws to consider (and we never do hear about how the in-laws react to this new development).  But if Carley spends too much time deciding whether or not she wants to be in this relationship, Wyatt, who's long harbored an unrequited flame for Carley for over a decade, won't wait around if a fling is all Carley wants.  In the wake of another heartbreaking, unexpected tragedy that solidifies Carley and Wyatt's bond, the story for these two has the kind of ending that leaves a smile on the reader's face.

If you enjoy reading stories set on Nantucket Island, you'll enjoy this book.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


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