Nantucket. Martha's Vineyard. Newport. Magical names, all three of them, because they call forth images of ocean-swept beaches, rose-covered cottages, seafaring Captains' stately homes, and all of the laid-back charm that islands can bring. Is there anyone who hasn't wanted, if only for the length of a vacation, to live on one?
But here's the thing about islands: for all of the obvious pleasures that they offer, they have some aspects that would make any mainlander a little crazy. Take transportation. Having to take a ferry makes a quick lunch with a friend on the mainland a fantasy, and a trip to Target a major project. (Nantucket is a long ferry ride from the mainland, and Martha's Vineyard isn't much closer. Even Newport, despite its bridge to the mainland, can have cars so backed up that a ferry could easily beat them.)
Food. True islanders do not expect miles of aisles and fourteen different kinds of peanut butters; they know how to do without. Movie theaters: one seems plenty. A living wage? Only during tourist season. Housing? You can tell a local's home from a summer house because the local's house will probably need paint. That is, if the local can actually afford to keep a house on the island, the one where he was born and raised, to begin with.
The gap between the Haves and the Have Nots in such places is especially glaring. It's a running theme in the three novels featured in the boxed set, SUMMER PLACES. Three New England locales are explored in three novels -- each of them capturing the the highs and the lows of a way of living that most of us can only dream about.
In BELOVED, set on Nantucket, unemployed Boston graphic designer Jane Drew inherits a ramshackle cottage, which may or may not be haunted, from her aunt, who may or may not have been a witch. Before long, Jane is butting heads with one of the locals, Mac McKenzie. Mac is descended from generations of hard-working islanders and has very clear opinions of uppity off-islanders. He has little patience for New Age types, moneyed types, and those for whom "antiquing" is a verb. He regards spaghetti as noodles, not pasta, and he drinks water from a tap, not a bottle. Oh, and he doesn't believe in ghosts. Period. When he finds himself up against the insistent, persistent, infinitely irritating Jane Drew with her knack for complicating his life, he does what any self-respecting islander would and shrugs her off -- for a while, anyway. But Mac understands, as Jane does not, that not every force is benign ... and not every force is otherworldly.
"BELOVED is pure Magic! The love story between the hero and heroine was complex and moving; what appealing characters!"
-- Susan Elizabeth Phillips
In SAFE HARBOR, eternal optimist Holly Anderson has managed to carve a nice little niche for herself as a folk artist on Martha's Vineyard. She's not quite a local, but she's lived on the island year-round and loves everything about it. Her artistry brings her deep satisfaction. Her family summers there. She has made friends there. If she could just afford to buy the house and barn she's renting, fall in love, marry the guy and then have children as sweet as her nieces, life would be pretty much perfect -- but when is life ever perfect? Havoc arrives on the island in the guise of beautiful Eden Walker, a con-woman who's stolen the nest egg of an elderly couple and who promptly seduces Holly's sixty-something father while she's in hiding. Sam Steadman--son of the now impoverished couple -- is furious and determined to find her. After a bumpy start, Sam and Holly join forces to track down the elusive Eden and reclaim both treasure and father. But hearts and minds collide, and shipwrecked emotions are strewn along the way. Will Holly and Sam ever be able to trust one another after the not-so-merry chase?
"Great characters, a satisfying love story ... suspense to keep the story moving ... a delightfully drawn setting as the author brings Martha's Vineyard to life ... this woman can write."
-- The Romance Reader
In SAND CASTLES, Wendy Hodene is one of those people for whom just enough is plenty. She's married to a charmer, has a young son she loves, and lives close to family in a small New England house that her great-grandfather built. True, she'd love to have room for a three-cushion couch (and of course more closet space), but all in all, she's happy with her life.
Happy, until her husband Jim goes and wins a lottery, upending every reassuring aspect of Wendy's existence. The man she thought she was married to for a decade turns out to be someone else entirely; the house she thought she wanted renovated turns into a stress-inducing pile of dust and demolition; the son who once desired nothing more than a new video game now wants a big new house on the beach; and the mysterious contractor who shows up among the renovation crew on a fine June morning turns out to be a man who's both able and willing to destroy all that Wendy holds dear.
"Well-drawn, sympathetic characters, exceptional writing, and an intriguing premise ... a riveting story of selfishness, betrayal, and love that readers will find hard to put down."
-- Library Journal
About the author
USA Today bestselling novelist Antoinette Stockenberg grew up wanting to be a cowgirl and have her own horse (her great-grandfather bred horses for the carriage trade back in the old country), but the geography just didn't work out: there weren't many ranches in Chicago. Her other, more doable dream was to write books, and after stints as secretary, programmer, teacher, grad student, boatyard hand, office manager and magazine writer (in that order), she achieved that goal, writing over a dozen novels, several of them with paranormal elements. One of them is the RITA award-winning EMILY'S GHOST.
Stockenberg's books have been published in a dozen languages and are often set in quaint New England harbor towns, always with a dose of humor. She writes about complex family relationships and the fallout that old, unearthed secrets can have on them. Sometimes there's an old murder. Sometimes there's an old ghost. Sometimes once-lovers find one another after half a lifetime apart.
Her work has been compared to writers as diverse as Barbara Freethy, Nora Roberts, LaVyrle Spencer and Mary Stewart by critics and authors alike, and her novels have appeared on bestseller lists in USA Today as well as the national bookstore chains. Her website features sample chapters, numerous reviews, many photos, and an enchanting Christmas section. www.antoinettestockenberg.com