A corporate attorney leaves her Manhattan cubicle for a small New Hampshire town, where she faces an agonizing choice.
Emily’s enervating job at a prestigious law firm is only a higher-paying version of a hectic call center. She sees little of her husband, James, who is immersed in his own 12-hour-a-day struggle to make partner in a similar firm. The couple is too exhausted to enjoy the spoils of their labors assisting corporations to further crush the poor and downtrodden. Their love life is strictly scheduled around Emily’s fertile periods, to no avail, baby-wise. One day Emily just snaps, runs out on her life and heads for the last place she remembers feeling relaxed: Bell Valley, where her college roommate’s family runs a massive animal shelter, the Refuge. Nothing much has changed in Bell Valley when Emily arrives, other than the fact that her one-time roomie, Vicki, now owns the Red Fox, a B&B. Vicki’s brother, Jude, Emily’s first love, has been absent for a decade, traveling the world. Emily fled Bell Valley, she thought forever, when Jude broke up with her and impregnated his ex-girlfriend. Emily has received sporadic dispatches from Jude, the last from a crab boat in the Bering Sea. His dreaded return to Bell Valley, accompanied by the coyote that appears to be his spirit guide (and rapidly becomes Emily’s), once again discomfits feminine hearts, including Vicki’s—she resents Jude for being the prodigal son family matriarch Amelia welcomes home while taking vineyard-toiling Vicki for granted. James, stunned by Emily’s defection, is trying to woo her back, but not quite ready to abandon Manhattan. Emily finds contentment in working with rescue cats and pitting her legal skills against power and greed (for a change). An improbable subplot involving Red Fox employee Lee, defrauded of her inheritance, is intended to inject thrills but falls far short of replacing the more essential conflicts Delinsky simply ducks. Arid stretches of boredom ensue.
No escapism here.