I have recently read two books featuring characters who are obsessive and carry guilt about something that happened to someone else in their lives. One of these books told the story better than the other. This is not that one.
Jane Gregory was to have married Ned Payton seven years ago. The night before their wedding, Ned died, and because Jane wished he would right before he did, she thinks she wished him dead. After moving to a new town, Jane and her son return to Pendleton, Vermont, where Graham Payton, Ned’s brother and Jane’s former best friend, still lives. Graham is the town doctor and always loved Jane. It broke his heart when she became engaged to Ned. Emotions and feelings all around town get stirred up as Jane returns and tries to sort out her life.
Jane and Graham are two intense characters, and neither one is particularly happy. Jane feels guilty about Ned and her seven-year-old son, Alex, because he hasn’t spoken a word in his life. She is overly protective of her son and determined never to love again because love hurts and damages.
Graham is married to a woman he doesn’t love but who loves him more than anything. Graham has never gotten over Jane, and when she returns he starts finding excuses to be around her. He refuses to leave his wife, but he has all those feelings for Jane. In the past, Graham was envious of everything his brother Ned had and truly hated him.
There are three other characters of major importance in this novel. Jane’s grandmother, Esther; Devon Zeke, the wannabe biker and rock star who just may be Ned returned from the dead; and Jane’s son, Alex. Esther believes in magic spells and that she has the power to cast them. It really seems she does. She tries to convince Jane that magic is in her, too, but Jane won’t have any of it.
Devon is a young hottie who has all the women in town going gaga. He embodies several of the late Ned’s characteristics, confusing both Jane and Graham and forcing them to deal with their past. Devon’s the catalyst in this story. He’s also not particularly sympathetic.
Young Alex is the most likable character with the biggest rooting factor. His problems will touch your heart. Esther is the character I liked second best. Jane and Graham were so intense and confused I couldn’t find any part of myself rooting for them to have a happy ending. In fact, I wasn’t sure at first who was supposed to have the happy ending with Jane: Graham or Devon. I just wanted them all to stop being so unhappy all the time. And Jane’s reason for not wanting to love again was silly and not at all logical. I did enjoy the magic of the story and the fact that there did seem to be true magic in the family, not just the magic of love;
All the character’s lives tangle together in confusion and manage to affect the whole town. Fortunately by the time everything is sorted out at the end, everyone is happier, less obssessed, and showing a little growth. Yorke has a nice, absorbing writing style and packs a lot of emotion into the story. She also creates a wonderful sense of place. I felt like there was a movie rolling in my head that I could see as I read the book. It’s just that all the unhappiness got to be too much, and I can’t give this book a rousing recommendation.