Luanne Rice returns with her 20th novel, "Summer of Roses," which revisits the characters she introduced in her best-seller "Summer's Child."
On the isolated coast of Nova Scotia, Lily tries to let go of painful memories from the past and tries to build a new life for herself and her 8-year-old daughter, Rose. Along the way, Lily and Rose's lives intertwine with several unforgettable characters.
You can read an excerpt from "Summer of Roses" below.
How does a person reenter a life she left nine years earlier? Knowing that there had been a relentless search for her, that her picture had been plastered on the front pages of every newspaper in Connecticut and beyond? Understanding that every local police department remained on the lookout for her? Realizing that all but one of her friends and family have given her up for dead?
The answer is, she walks right in the front door.
That's what Lily Malone did in the very-early-morning hours of August ninth. Just past 1 a.m., Liam Neill parked his truck in the turnaround at Hubbard's Point, lifted Rose -- sleeping, after the long drive from Nova Scotia -- and followed Lily down the stone steps.
Lily glanced at the arch over the wishing well -- there was the house name, Sea Garden, its letters just a little more rusty, a bit more filigreed from the salt air, than they had been nine years earlier. The sight gave her a pang so deep, she gasped out loud. Lily was really home. A breeze blew off Long Island Sound -- salt water, just like the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Maritime Canada, where she had lived and hidden these last nine years. But this night breeze was warm, gentle, filled with scents of marsh grass and sandy beaches -- instead of the fjord's arctic cliffs and cold, clear water flowing straight off the pack ice.
"Oh my," she said out loud, alive with the thrill of finally coming home. The roses greeted her -- their perfume filled the air, and if the ones growing up the trellis beside the front door were slightly less well tended than they'd been nine years ago, they were still profuse and extravagant. Lily reached up, through the thorns, to feel underneath the shingle just beside the dark porch light, and there it was -- the key her grandmother had always kept hidden there, guarded by the roses' foliage and thorns. "She didn't move it," she whispered.
"Of course she didn't," Liam said in her ear, standing behind her with Rose. "She never stopped hoping you'd come back."
"Maeve is coming home too," Lily said, opening the squeaky screen door, holding it open with her shoulder, fumbling with the key in the rusty old door lock. "Right? Tell me she's going to be okay -- "
"She will be, Lily," Liam said.
Lily felt the key turn. Nine years later, the door made the same bump as it opened, one of the hinges hanging just slightly. Stepping into the kitchen...smelling beach-house dampness encroaching from the absence of its owner. Yet someone--Clara, obviously--had opened a few windows. Lily walked through the first floor as if she were a ghost, haunting her most beloved, familiar place on earth.