An Angel for Emily


The Mulberry Tree

The Summerhouse


Return to Summerhouse
by Jude Deveraux
(Pocket, $7.99, PG) ISBN 14165-0973-9
Warning #1:  this book is not really a true romance.  It is more like a story of several romances seen from afar.  Warning #2: There is time travel, limited to one trip, but at times, over the top things happen there.  Warning # 3: This is the story of three women and yet, most of the time is spent on one woman’s time travel.  

Despite the previous warnings, Return to Summerhouse is a book that surprised me in a very pleasant way, so much so, that I am recommending it.

Jeanne Hightower is a therapist who uses a summerhouse in Maine to help several of her clients.  In Summerhouse, which I have not read, three women were helped.  This time three different women come to try to find their answers. 

Amy Hanford recently suffered a miscarriage of her baby girl.  She was devastated because she had assumed having this girl fit her destiny.  She had married her childhood sweetheart and they had two boys just like they were supposed to.  But the girl had eluded them.  Stephen, Amy’s husband, works at a job that was not his first choice, but one which provides for his family.  He is clearly a man who enjoys his family and Amy is the love of his life.  He guiltily signed her up for the three weeks at Jeanne’s house, hoping that she and these other women could help rid Amy of her melancholy. Amy reluctantly agreed.

Faith and Zoe are the other two women.  Faith looks older than she actually is, and is in need of self-confidence.  She had two really good friends growing up – sexy Ty and steady Eddie.  When it was time to marry, she rejected Ty and married Eddie, only to discover that Eddie had a heart problem that kept him from fully participating in life. Faith loved Eddie, but spent her life as much as his nurse as his wife.  Now that he has passed away, she is at loose ends and at times, has contemplated suicide.

Zoe is the youngest of the three women and her life has been a bit of a mess.  She wears Goth and has no memory of her life prior to being in a car accident.  She lost her memory, only to discover that her whole town hated her.  She also discovered a natural art talent that she has been using – traveling from home to home of people, mostly wealthy people, who will pay her to complete portraits and paintings they want.  This keeps her unattached but busy and keeps her from dwelling on why people dislike her.

Also in Maine, helping the women who come to the Summerhouse are Zoya and Primrose.  They help the women travel into their past to change whatever they want in order to improve their lives. Amy has had several weird dreams of a man from the eighteenth century England who is stabbed with a knife in his bed. She doesn’t know why, but she discovers a book that shows that he is an ancestor of Stephen’s and she is convinced that she must keep him from being murdered. Tristan is his name and he lives on an estate with a dying uncle and younger sister Beth. The three women go back in time to three weeks prior to Tristan’s death.    What they discover there is going to change all three of their lives in different ways.  Amy realizes that she loves Tristan and yet, she knows she is still married to Stephen and has two adoring children. Zoe meets an artist and falls hard for him. Faith realizes that she has healing knowledge and is determined to help those in need. She also discovers a secret that will impact her future (and her past).

Knowing that these women are in the wrong century, their story is really more about self-discovery rather than romance. They travel to England over 100 years before, yet, they retain their modern thinking and they really don’t hide their differences. This did not ring true if held up to a lot of scrutiny. Zoya tells the women that each will get a chance to go back in time, yet the only one we live through is Amy’s trip, where she also takes Zoe and Faith. The other two travel independently and their adventures are recounted rather quickly in the past tense as the story comes to a close.

I highly enjoyed this story. It maintained my interest, even as I thought about some of the incongruities.  Return to Summerhouse is a good beach story.  It flows well and will keep you turning the pages, leaving the reader satisfied in the end.   

--Shirley Lyons

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