In Clark’s debut romance novel, a young widow, bolstered by her religious faith, discovers new love and finds out what jealousy can drive people to do.
Annie MacKerricher, a 33-year-old scarf designer, is widowed when Jorge Reyes, a member of a local gang, robs and kills her husband, Sean, during his jog in Manhattan Beach, California. As Annie awaits Reyes’ trial to start, she begins coming to grips with how she felt invisible in her marriage—much like her grandmother’s teapot had been “out of sight” in her own home. On a trip to California’s North Coast with her sister and her family, she sees Trinidad Head, a massive outcropping off the coast, which leads her to the nearby town of Trinidad. There, she experiences a sense of déjà vu, and her eyes lock in mysterious recognition with a “thirtyish,” “handsome fisherman/artist” named Forrest Hammond. Trinidad makes her feel a “desire to rediscover herself.” After she obtains closure at Reyes’ sentencing, she moves to the new town, and just in time—because Reyes has marked her for revenge. However, even his threat pales next to the seething jealousy of Forrest’s former flame, the beautiful, red-haired Riatta Lutz. Meanwhile, Annie’s faith sustains her through these troubled waters. Throughout, Clark’s prose is as fluid as the setting: “Several sailboats were out with their colorful sails unfurled, gracefully gliding through the channel on their way out to sea.” Although the slow-building romance between Forrest and Annie is the story’s focus, the core theme of the work is “a woman’s courage to fail in life and begin anew.” The scenes of intimacy are chaste; Forrest feels “electricity surge between them” as he helps Annie undress after she’s injured, but for Annie, such passion can only exist in marriage. Some readers may find that Annie’s harsh judgment sounds a sour note: “I see a soul presently unredeemable,” she says to Reyes at his sentencing. She also aims her moral certitude at Forrest, just as they are beginning their relationship, which may cause some to lose sympathy for her.
A smoothly written tale about deep faith leading to love and self-understanding, hampered by sometimes-unsympathetic characterization.