So many things about writing amaze me. The variety of stories that authors are able to create amazes me. The wide range of names and locales amazes me. The ability to create storylines that can last one, two, or three books at a time amazes me.
But the one thing that amazes me most is the power to create fictional characters that I immediately feel I know, right from the first few pages of a novel.
And that is what Denise Hunter has done in "Surrender Bay: A Nantucket Love Story". From the prologue, I found myself heavily invested in the lives of Landon and Samantha, and that investment grew as the novel progressed.
Samantha, or Sam, has lived a life of loss and hardship. Her father died when she was very young, and her mother remarried a man who was abusive and hateful to Sam. Then, one day, for no reason, her mother left. But she didn't bother to take Sam with her, or to leave anything behind for her one and only daughter.
So the message of "don't ever love, because they always leave you" came through loud and clear early on in young Samantha's life. And she took it in and made it a part of who she was, believing it about everyone she came in contact with...
Except Landon. He was always there. Only, Sam didn't quite believe he would be...and then he went away to college. And Sam disappeared.
Flash forward many years, and Sam's estranged step-father has died with no will in place, leaving her his entire estate...the small Nantucket cottage where all of her sadness and nightmares happened.
Now, with her eleven year old daughter Caden in tow, Sam returns to the memories in order to sell the cottage and secure their financial future. But what she didn't count on was finding Landon, back in the house where he had grown up, and still deeply in love with her.
So, Landon won't leave. Or will he? Will Sam's final huge bombshell announcement finally be the thing that pushes him away? Will her push you-pull you behavior undo the bond he has fought to keep them together? Will Samantha finall end up as her step-father predicted...alone?
I so identified with Samantha. I didn't grow up in a physically abusive home, but my father was verbally demeaning and very demanding. And I grew up believing everyone you loved, once they finally found out who you REALLY were, would leave you.
My Dave is just like Landon. No matter how hard I pushed, no matter how many head games I played with him, no matter how many times I did my own push you-pull you act, he never gave up. And so this story resonated in my heart.
This is a "Romance For Good" kind of love story. It's a wonderful illustration of the kind of love God has for us...for me...for you. The kind of love that says, "No matter what you've done, no matter where you've been, no matter how hard you try...I love you, and I want you to be mine."
I give "Surrender Bay" five out of five bookmarks...my only complaint was the ending seemed a little rushed...and that's a small complaint at that. This story is gorgeous and so needed in our disposable society. Thank you, Denise, for writing it...now, when's the next one coming out????