Review

Heat Wave

by Nancy Thayer

Carley Winsted has reached the final day of the worst year of her life. Just a month ago, her young, healthy, adored husband Gus suddenly died of an unsuspected heart defect. Carley is just 32 and cringes with guilt any time she momentarily forgets her sorrow. Yet she knows she has a duty to show her daughters, 12-year-old Cisco and five-year-old Margaret, that life will go on and that they will enjoy their futures.

This page-turner is the perfect beach read, whether you're actually lounging next to the waves or warming up near a crackling fireplace.

Carley's life is excruciating right now, yet she must carry on. Today, she feels an added emotion: panic. Her father-in-law, Russell, has made an appointment with her at his law office. Carley loves her in-laws, elegant Annabel and dignified Russell, but she also knows they tend to be judgmental and manipulative.

As her daughters are spending the afternoon with friends, she feels free to lose herself in nostalgia, contemplating how she and Gus met on one of Nantucket's beaches during the summer between Carley's sophomore and junior college years. She had never felt an urge toward a profession as so many of her friends had. As a 19-year-old waitress working during Nantucket's busy tourist season, she attended a beach party where the attractive and charming Gus approached her. Not long afterward, the two were involved.

When Carley discovered she was pregnant, they decided to get married. She dreaded announcing their plans to Annabel and Russell, living picture-perfect lives in their old Nantucket mansion. Although they had been hospitable enough to her, she knew their son's abrupt marriage to an outsider was not in their plans. And yet, it had all worked out, with Gus, Carley and their growing family nestled in the Winsted family's second mansion, the one Russell and Annabel had always told Gus was to be his. Although Carley finds her in-laws to be intimidating in many ways, the adults have bonded over the adorable children.

At Russell's office, she's surprised --- and even more concerned --- to find Annabel at their meeting. Her concern is justified; Russell has terrible news for Carley. Although she knew Gus had made some poor investments, she had no idea that he has left her with barely enough money to eke by for a month or two. He had even cashed in his life insurance policy. Russell and Annabel gently point out that, although Carley owns her house free and clear, there are high maintenance costs for such an enormous home. Plus, Carley must worry about basic living expenses for her and her daughters. Their solution: Carley, Cisco and Margaret must move in with Russell and Annabel.

Carley is terrified. She's not qualified for any career. She wants to continue living in the home she and Gus cherished. She needs to be available to her daughters. The one thing she truly does not want to do is live with her in-laws. She has problems just getting through each day, so how can she find a way to stay in her home, spend time with her children, and be fulfilled?

Author Nancy Thayer weaves a wonderful story set in the beautiful scenery of Nantucket. Carley is a many-layered, realistic and sympathetic main character. If she solves her problems a bit too easily, I can't imagine any reader being dissuaded. Carley's life is composed of family, friends and the possibility of romance as she emerges triumphant from sorrow over her husband's death. Subplots revolving around the complicated nuances of female friendship and concerns of a loving mother work well.

If I have one quibble, it's with the title, which seems to indicate a torrid series romance. While there is a love story here, there's so much more. This page-turner is the perfect beach read, whether you're actually lounging next to the waves or warming up near a crackling fireplace.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on July 3, 2011

Heat Wave
by Nancy Thayer

  • Publication Date: May 29, 2012
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0345518322
  • ISBN-13: 9780345518323