Theresa Alston Crandall, a seventy-something children’s book writer and illustrator and mother of three sons has resigned herself to “old age… one bookend of life” in her loving but passionless relationship with her husband, Kevin. She’s content in her life. But when her youngest son, David, dies in a freak accident, Theresa ‘s guilt overwhelms her. The secret of Theresa’s infidelity and parentage of her three sons is soon disclosed. But it is a larger, more painful secret that could be her undoing. She is forced to examine her past and the lies that could shake the foundation of her family.
In the days and months after David’s funeral, family members and friends gather at Whimsy Towers, the oceanfront beach house Theresa inherited from her grandmother, who carried her own secrets. As she waits for her husband and sons to return for the funeral, Theresa berates herself for “meandering from the present and going too quickly into the past,” a place rich with history and secrets. Another family death exacerbates Theresa’s grief and guilt, which manifests itself in a series of confusions and accidents that indicate her possible decline. Her sons and husband do their best to help her heal, but it is only when Razor, the father of her son’s husband, arrives that Theresa begins to reflect on the possibility of change. Razor presents Theresa with a risky choice between stepping into an unknown future or staying mired in the safe but fraught past.
In Ann Hymes’s LOVE & LIES, a stand-alone sequel to Shadow of Whimsy: A Cape Cod Love Story, Theresa’s voice is strong and sure, a woman who has chosen her own path and only now doubts her actions after the loss of her son. She is a wise and self-aware heroine, articulate and compassionate but not without flaws. Her family and friends enjoy her rueful wit and poetic soul. Hymes masterfully uses setting as another character in the book, luxuriating in descriptions of the windswept beach landscape and cozy house. Theresa’s husband and sons are portrayed lovingly, but their voices lack distinction. Readers will delight in Razor, a man with whom Theresa may be equally matched. Hymes only falters when she uses an overabundance of plot to manipulate her characters to action and briefly shake credulity.
LOVE & LIES, a gentle story of a woman who must choose between settling into the mistakes of the past or risking her family for a second chance, is a beautifully-written story of love and family that will charm readers with its appealing heroine and atmospheric setting.
~Jenny Langsam for IndieReader