Following on the heels of her 2011 release, LARKSPUR COVE, author Lisa Wingate brings readers back to Moses Lake, Texas, with her latest novel, BLUE MOON BAY. Each is a stand-alone, although several of the characters from the first book are mentioned in the second.
Growing up in Moses Lake, Heather Hampton had always felt like an outcast. She hid behind a virtual mask and didn’t make friends easily. Her high school classmates thought she was “weird,” and the “Casserole Ladies” from church seemed fake and judgmental. Her brother, Clay, and her uncle Herb’s Mennonite housekeeper, Ruth, were pretty much the only two people Heather could trust, besides her father, whom she admired more than anyone else in the world. When Heather witnessed her dad’s gruesome death, her world was shattered. She left Moses Lake soon after, determined never to go back.
"If you’re like me, you’ll find that BLUE MOON BAY drops you into a beautiful setting, surrounds you with multi-faceted and wonderful characters, entertains you with a riveting plot, and leaves you highly anticipating the next novel set in Moses Lake, Texas."
Sixteen years later, Heather is living in Seattle and has everything a woman could want: a successful career with a prestigious architectural firm, a beautiful apartment, and a boyfriend she expects will propose any day now. She is helping to facilitate the sale of her childhood farmland in Moses Lake, which she should be able to handle remotely. But when her mother misses the meeting to sign the papers with an investment broker, Heather reluctantly heads back to the town she can’t stand --- a town that holds memories of the past (of her father’s death) that have haunted her since the day she left. She hoped she would never have to face them, but now she has no choice.
Heather is surprised to find her mother and brother living at Harmony Shores, the home attached to the now-closed-down funeral parlor owned by her uncle Herb. Everyone is acting strangely suspicious, particularly her mother and Clay, refusing to just come out and tell her what’s going on with the sale of the property. There’s no doubt her family is keeping secrets, and Heather finds herself thrown into the middle of a mystery.
Many of Lisa Wingate’s books depict a strong, independent woman as the protagonist. In the case of BLUE MOON BAY, main character Heather represents many women today: hard-working and career-oriented, ambitious, determined. But beneath the surface lie insecurities, fears and unresolved resentments that Wingate expertly explores. While this story offers a wonderfully compelling plot, it is definitely character-driven. Besides Heather, the novel includes an entertaining and extensive supporting cast. From brief characters like the Christian man and his family whom Heather meets on her way back home to Texas, to the quirky and sometimes obnoxious residents of Moses Lake, to her zany family members, the secondary characters created the greatest page-turning factor for me.
One of the most touching characters is Ruth, the Mennonite family housekeeper with a calm, accepting and non-confrontational nature, who now is dying of cancer. Heather reconnects with Ruth, whom she hasn’t seen since she left 16 years ago. Ruth shares memories and stories from the past. During her few visits and heartfelt conversation, Heather discovers a few things about herself and about her life that she has tried to avoid but is finally ready to face.
Don’t despair, romance fans, as there is certainly a romantic thread throughout. An unlikely high school classmate enters the picture and causes feelings in Heather she’s never had before. The chemistry between them is undeniable and delightful.
The last quarter of the book is by far the most absorbing, as the mystery finally unfolds and comes to an exciting and satisfying conclusion. If you’re like me, you’ll find that BLUE MOON BAY drops you into a beautiful setting, surrounds you with multi-faceted and wonderful characters, entertains you with a riveting plot, and leaves you highly anticipating the next novel set in Moses Lake, Texas.
Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on March 20, 2012