Second-chance romance in a windswept beach town.
Ophélie, the French-born wife of an American physicist and inventor, struggles with depression after her husband and son die in a plane crash. Not that the marriage was perfect—far from it. Ted was a moody genius who did his damnedest to ignore 15-year-old Chad’s emotional problems and Ophélie’s timid complaints. At least she still has Philippa, her 11 year-old daughter, known as Pip, to console her, and group therapy to help her through what’s referred to delicately as “the grieving process” (yes, this is in California). When Pip, ignored in turn by her airhead babysitter, wanders the beach alone and meets an artist, Ophélie is frightened and comes to sudden life, fiercely scolding the man, who insists he meant no harm. Matt Bowles remembers his own daughter at that age, though his children are grown. He lost touch with them after a bitter divorce and his wife’s relocation to New Zealand. A likely story, thinks Ophélie, who is nonetheless drawn to the attractive painter. A relationship blossoms as they share life stories and walks on the beach with the family retriever and happy Pip. Ophélie is surprised to find joy again—but her best friend Andrea could have told her that. Andrea, a free spirit who loved and left many men, has finally settled down at 44, a blissful single mother to baby William, fathered by artificial insemination and an anonymous donor—these days, who cares? Not Ophélie, who dotes on the adorable tot. Eager to do something for others, she volunteers for a homeless outreach program and serves these lost souls with bravery and compassion. But a bitter betrayal awaits her, as the truth of little William’s parentage is revealed.
Steel (Johnny Angel, p. 556) softens her style in this quiet, poignant romance, generally avoiding the glitzy excesses and silly contrivances of some previous titles. Easy to read, easy to like.