Monday, June 07, 2010

Friday Fiction: Luanne Rice

--by Hanje Richards

Luanne Rice is the New York Times bestselling author who has inspired the devotion of readers everywhere with her moving novels of love and family. Rice began her writing career in 1985 with her debut novel Angels All Over Town. Since then, she has written more than twenty-six novels including such bestsellers as What Matters Most, The Edge of Winter, Summer of Roses, Beach Girls, Dance With Me, and The Secret Hour.

Rice's talent emerged at a very young age, as she published her first poem in the Hartford Courant at the age of 11. Her first short story was published in American Girl Magazine when she was 15.

Rice worked at many odd jobs, including being a cook and maid for an exalted Rhode Island family and fishing on a scallop boat during winter storms. These life experiences not only cultivated the author's love and talent for writing, but shaped the common backdrops in her novels of family and relationships on the Eastern seaboard.

Rice resides in New York City and on the Connecticut shoreline, in the house where she spent her childhood summers.

Angels All Over Town - Una Cavan doesn’t believe in ghosts. But ghosts seem to believe in her. At least, her father’s ghost does, walking into and out of her life as casually as if he were entering and exiting a room. Una has always believed the Cavan women had the power of witches and, from the beaches of Connecticut to the bustle of New York City, they’ve shared the special unbreakable bond of sisters. No man has been able to come between them… until Lily marries the “perfect” man and begins to drift away and Margo gets engaged. With another failed relationship behind her, and a thriving career as an actress ahead of her, Una wonders if she’s destined to be alone – or if there isn’t something more, something magical that life has in store for her. Then an unexpected encounter gives her the answer she’s been seeking…

Beach Girls - With Beach Girls, Luanne Rice returns to the place that she was born to write about – the Connecticut shore – to tell a story about a family of women whose lives encompass three generations, their histories intertwined with that of the mystic coastal town that has forever bound them to one another.

The novel explores the complex and contradictory territories of love, family, and friendship. Rice's sensuous prose and unforgettably rich and textured characters guide us toward a truth that lies within and sometimes beyond our dreams – an enduring strength that we all must embrace to find our way home and into the hearts of those we cherish most.

Blue Moon - During a season of emotional and financial upheavals within the Keating clan, the Medieroses' marriage becomes strained in ways that make Billy wonder whether Cass is more devoted to her family that to him. Then Billy adds to the stress by leaving his father-in-law's fleet and buying his own boat. His rebellion sets up the book's unexpected final episode, an electrifying disaster at sea that puts all of the characters back in touch with their deepest loyalties and passions.

Cloud Nine - Sarah Talbot surely thought she'd never live to see another birthday. But against all odds, she beat the disease that threatened to take her life and she reopened her bedding shop, Cloud Nine. It is a new beginning for Sarah – a fresh start at life that few are given.

Her first adventure comes during a special birthday present from her friends: a ride over upstate New York in a small chartered plane. From there, she views the spectacular autumn foliage. Yet, as so often happens when one takes chances, the unexpected occurs. For it is on this flight that she meets Will Burke, a former Navy pilot whose strength and confidence attract Sarah as much as the vulnerability he tries hard to conceal.

These two fellow travelers find in each other a kindred spirit and a bond that will give them the courage to confront the past and have faith in the future... no matter how uncertain.

Dance With Me - Jane Porter left the apple orchards of rural Twin Rivers, Rhode Island, years ago, fleeing memories that could tear two families apart. Now, she has been unexpectedly drawn home to her mother and only sister. Dylan Chadwick has come back, too, shedding the steely exterior he wore as a Federal agent in order to follow in the footsteps of his apple-farming father and forget the life he once lived. Amid this landscape of loss and renewal, a haunting story of converging lives, small-town secrets – and the magical sway of unexpected miracles – unfolds. Deeply moving and richly told, this novel explores emotional connections at their very core, with keen insights into the lives of mothers and daughters, sisters and lovers.
Edge of Winter - Neve Halloran and her daughter share a fierce love for the austere beauty of Rhode Island’s South County. Now, with Mickey a teenager and Neve’s last hope for happiness with her daughter’s loving but unstable father gone, both will struggle to make a new life amid the windswept landscape that sustains them.
Mickey moves toward womanhood in the company of a lonely boy who shares her instinctive way with the creatures of the coast. And Neve finds herself drawn to a man who has devoted his life to the sanctuary, but who is unable to share the pain of a recent loss – or reconnect with the father who still bears the scars of World War II.As winter gives way to spring, and spring to summer, a secret emerges that has lain buried in the depths just offshore for decades, a secret that will galvanize the small seaside community.

Follow the Stars Home - Being a good mother is never simple: each day brings new choices and challenges. For Dianne Robbins, being a devoted single mother has resulted in her greatest joy and her darkest hours. Weeks before her daughter was born, she and her husband, Tim McIntosh, received the news every parent fears. Tim had not reckoned on their child being anything less than perfect, and abruptly fled to a solitary existence on the sea, leaving Dianne with a newborn almost alone.
It was Tim's brother, Alan, the town pediatrician, who stood by Dianne and her exceptional daughter. Throughout years of waiting, watching, and caring, Alan hid his love for his brother's wife. But one of the many hard choices Dianne has made is to close her heart toward any man, especially one named McIntosh. It will take a very special twelve-year-old to remind them all that love comes in many forms and can be received with as much grace as it is given.

Geometry of Sisters - The storm off Mackinac Island that engulfed Maura Shaw’s husband and elder daughter, Carrie, also swept away the illusion of her life as the perfect midwestern wife and mother. Now, after years away, Maura has returned to Rhode Island to teach English at the fabled Newport Academy and to seek a new beginning. Newport has never failed to infuse Maura with a sense of mystery and hope, but ever since the accident, her younger daughter, fourteen-year-old Beck, has retreated into the safe, predictable world of mathematics. Without Carrie, Beck has lost half of herself – the half that would have fit into the elite private school she and her brother, Travis, will attend. The half that made things right. Sixteen-year-old Travis is also struggling to adjust –juggling a long-distance first love and an attraction to a girl with a wicked sparkle in her eye. And for Maura, ghosts linger here – an unresolved breach with her own beloved sister and a long-ago secret that may now have the power to set her free.

Home Fires - Anne Davis has returned to the house where she grew up, trading a seemingly charmed life jetting between her Manhattan penthouse and France for a harsh winter on a wind-whipped New England island. Her marriage has crumbled in the wake of a tragic accident that took the life of her four-year-old daughter. Now, she has returned to the home on Salt Whistle Road, the home that has always meant shelter, security, family, love. And one snowy night, when she awakens to a fire that roars through the old house, Anne escapes – yet runs back into the blaze to save something so precious that it’s worth risking her life for.

Last Kiss - For nearly a year after the tragedy that claimed her teenage son, Charlie, Sheridan Rosslare has lived a quiet life on Hubbard’s Point, tucked away in the beach house where they spent their happiest days. But Charlie’s girlfriend, Nell Kilvert, is determined to find out what really happened on the night none of them will ever forget. She summons the one man she believes can uncover the truth – Gavin Dawson, who long ago thought he would always be at Sheridan’s side. Now, his boat sits anchored within sight of the window of the woman he once loved – and still loves. Both of them had believed in the power of love and forgiveness, connection and reconnection, to work magic.

Secret Hour - Beneath his careful and controlled demeanor, attorney John O’Rourke is a man whose life is in turmoil. Since the death of his wife, he has been juggling the rigors of a controversial capital murder case and the demands of raising two children. Eleven-year-old Maggie’s crooked bangs and rumpled clothes eloquently reproach John’s earnest but haphazard attempts at mothering. Teddy, John’s stalwart fourteen-year-old, has quietly assumed responsibilities far too weighty for his young shoulders, as he longs for the way things used to be and tries to ignore the hostility that has swirled around his family since his father took on the defense of a killer whose crimes have rocked Connecticut. A brick through the window one autumn morning signals a dangerous new level of hatred.
But a quieter event also takes place that day. A woman arrives on the O’Rourke doorstep to find a household on the brink of chaos but brimming with love – and, she hopes, answers. Kate Harris is searching for the key to her own mystery. Six months ago, her younger sister fled far from their beloved home following a devastating confrontation. After mailing a single postcard from the New England shore, Willa Harris vanished. With only a postmark to go on, Kate takes a leave of absence from her job as a marine biologist to come to the seaside Willa adored – and discovers the one man who may be able to help her.

Summer Light - May Taylor works as a wedding planner, passing on the timeless traditions of her grandmother and mother. The Taylor women have always believed in the presence of magic in everyday life – especially the simple magic of true love and family. Yet May’s own faith in true love was shattered when she was abandoned by the father of her child. Still, she finds joy in raising her daughter Kylie, a very special five-year-old who sees and hears things that others cannot...
Martin Cartier is a professional hockey player and sports legend. His father, a champion, taught him to play to win – at all costs. Now Martin’s success veils a core of heartache, rage, and isolation. Yet Kylie glimpses the transcendent role Martin will play in May’s life and her own – unless his past tears their blossoming love apart. Then only Kylie will see the way home, and only May will be able to lead them there, if she can believe in magic once more.

Summer of Roses - Their lives were a tapestry woven together by love and loss, tragedy and hope. On the windswept coast of Nova Scotia, Lily and her eight-year-old daughter, Rose, are struggling to embrace a new life even as Lily tries to let go of painful memories of the past. Among the lives that will touch theirs are those of Liam Neill, a dedicated teacher living in self-imposed isolation; Maeve Jameson, mourning the loss of a granddaughter she devoted her life to protecting; and Mark Murphy, a dogged police detective obsessed with a woman who vanished years ago – who may or may not have found what he seeks in a tiny, out-of-the-way maritime village.
During this eventful summer of roses, the paths – and fates – of these unforgettable characters will intersect in ways that none of them could ever expect and shape a future none of them could possibly foresee. For each of them, it will be a time of renewal and transformation that will circle inevitably to a past left behind, a mystery unsolved, and a love reclaimed.

What Matters Most - Sister Bernadette Ignatius has returned to Ireland in the company of Tom Kelly to search for the past – and the son – they left behind. For it was here that these two long-ago lovers spent a season of magic before Bernadette’s calling led her to a vocation as Mother Superior at Star of the Sea Academy on the sea-tossed Connecticut shore. For Tom, Bernadette’s choice meant giving up his fortune and taking the job as caretaker at Star of the Sea, where he could be close to the woman he could no longer have but whom he never stopped loving. And while one miracle drew them apart, another is about to bring them together again.
For somewhere in Dublin, a young man named Seamus Sullivan is also on a search, dreaming of being reunited with his own first love, the only “family” he’s ever known. They’d been inseparable growing up together at St. Augustine’s Children’s Home, until Kathleen Murphy’s parents claimed her and she vanished across the sea to America. Now, in a Newport mansion, that very girl, grown to womanhood, works as a maid and waits with a faith that defies all reason for the miracle that will bring back the only boy she’s ever loved.