In spite of its bleak setting and gloomy undertones, this modern Middle-American potboiler featuring an emergency-room physician whose husband is obsessed with another man's wife engages the reader with its descriptive power and emotional intensity--by the author of Secret Lives (1991). The beautiful red-haired women's-shelter volunteer was already unconscious when brought into the emergency room on Christmas Day--the unintended gunshot victim of someone else's angry husband. Only as cool, competent physician Olivia Simon is literally holding the woman's heart in her hand, plugging the bullet wounds with her fingers, does Olivia learn that the patient is Annie O'Neill, the woman with whom her husband, Paul, has been obsessed ever since their recent move to North Carolina's Outer Banks. When Annie dies on the operating table, Olivia must first inform the stunned husband, Alec, and the couple's two children, then go home to face her own husband's grief and wrath, knowing her innocent role in Annie's death will mean the end of her marriage. Once Paul moves out, Olivia's grief at the dissolution of her marriage gradually leads her into an obsession of her own with Annie O'Neill. Called ""Saint Anne"" by the locals, the charismatic wife and mother was well-known for donating bone marrow to children with cancer, fighting to preserve historical landmarks, caring for the elderly, and otherwise performing good deeds. But as Olivia becomes more deeply involved in Annie's life and family, she learns that neither Annie nor Paul were ever what they seemed. Will Olivia learn the truth behind Annie's apparent selflessness? Will Alee and his family survive Annie's death? Will Paul recognize the self-destructive nature of his obsession and return to his now-pregnant wife? Will Olivia and Alec find happiness--with or without their mates? Such questions--along with some particularly well-drawn local characters--keep the pages turning.