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Kevin O'Brien has returned to the beloved O'Brien clan with his son Davy, devastated from his wife's death while serving in the Army in Iraq. He just wants to be left alone to freely and fully grieve. His family honors his needs for a while, but then they realize he has a son who needs him. In other words, he needs to slowly join the living in spite of and through his grief. A large, daunting task to be sure! But the O'Brien clan is up to the task as well.
At the same time young Shanna Carlyle has arrived in Chesapeake Bay and is about to open her dream store, a place where the locals and tourists can buy books, games, small toys and puzzles, as well as have a place to have a cup of coffee while they relax and browse through the merchandise. She's got an accounting background to put to good use here but she's also hoping to escape a searingly painful past that she views as damaged.
The day comes when Kevin is finally talked into visiting his sister who owns the store next to Shanna. Finding her shop closed, he stops by and thus begins one of the most cautious, intriguing and endearing romances a reader could imagine. Both are initially ultra-gun shy about calling their relationship anything more than a casual friendship, but to other eyes the sparks are flying whenever they are together.
You'll meet some other fascinating characters, all of whom are desperately trying to matchmake this burgeoning relationship but who have issues of their own that frequently cause conflict between Kevin and Shanna. Is there hope for the couple? What is it that each character needs to face and admit before they can even dream of more than the frightened and grief-filled moments they suffer? Be warned; this sounds complex and heavy but it's definitely not so. Sherryl Woods has a knack of putting just enough tension into a story and then relieving it graciously and beautifully with a scene where the bonds between all of these characters begins to heal and strengthens.
The fictional tale also turns to a realistic, very important environmental issue as well, done lightly but with significant focus!
Harbor Lights is a glorious, enchanting, light-hearted, intriguing and precious story written by an author who just keeps improving with time! Wonderful story to be cherished by readers in any time of the year!
Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on July 14, 2009