The Night Mark
Harlequin MIRA / March 28, 2017 / $15.99 print, $7.99 digital
She has nothing to live for in the present, but finds there’s something worth dying for in the past…
Tiffany Reisz transitions to women’s fiction tinged with magical realism in her newest release, The Night Mark, while still retaining everything readers love about her erotic fiction—banter, beautiful prose and deep, emotional relationships. (And sex. Of course, there is sex.)
An aching meditation on grief and loss, The Night Mark uses a lighthouse as both a touchstone and a catalyst when deeply unhappy Faye Barlow finds herself at an emotional crossroads. Trapped by a marriage to her dead husband’s best friend, mired in the memories of a blazing first love, she obtains a quickie divorce and flees to Beaufort, South Carolina to restart her career as a photographer. Bride Island — which Reisz fans will recognize from The Bourbon Thief, immediately fascinates her. As she digs into the history of the island and its decaying but dazzling lighthouse, she’s gut-punched by an old photograph. Carrick Morgan, a lighthouse keeper from the 1920s, looks exactly like her first husband, charming baseball player Will Fielding.
“When Will and I got married, we did all the usual wedding vows. Love, honor, cherish, until death do us part. But that wasn’t good enough for Will. He added one more vow. He said...” She stopped to breathe even though it hurt to breathe, but she kept on doing it. Will would have wanted her to. “He said, ‘Come heaven or hell or high water, I will love you and take care of you as long as you live, Faye. I asked him, ‘Don’t you mean as long as you live?’ He said no. He wasn’t interested in till death do us part. Even if he went first, he would find a way to take care of me. I treasure that vow. I hold it right here,” she said, touching her chest over her heart. “But I’m still waiting for him to keep it.”
The Night Mark tells us how Will manages to keep that vow — with twists and turns and taboos that are vintage Tiffany Reisz. Why does Carrick remind Faye of her husband? Why does a painting of Carrick’s daughter Faith, who drowned in June of 1921, seem so familiar? Why the hell is she being stalked by a wood stork? The answers come when Faye nearly drowns in the waters off Bride Island and surfaces in the past—rescued by the lighthouse keeper who has already begun to enthrall her.
“Am I dying?” she asked.
“No, ma’am. Not on my watch.”
Faye wept openly then, shaking and shivering in his arms. She wept because he had Will’s face and because he spoke Will’s words. But he wasn’t Will. And if he wasn’t Will, why did she want to love him?
Faye’s story is wish fulfillment for anyone who’s ever dreamed of running away to join the circus or diving into a book and staying in that world. No, the past she encounters isn’t perfect, but it’s more bearable than her present — where she suffered devastating miscarriages and panic attacks and a heartbreak she never got over. If you’re not into time travel, or love time travel but are a stickler about rules and paradoxes, this may not be the right book for you, but for those who can suspend disbelief, it’s an engaging ride. It’s chock-full of symbolism and, most importantly, hope. Through her experiences in 1921, Faye heals and grows and loves anew. She and Carrick discover the difference between adoring a ghost or a memory and embracing the living—and, together, they allow the lighthouse to guide them home.
Learn more about or pre-order a copy of The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz, available March 28, 2017:
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Mala Bhattacharjee is a longtime pop culture writer and the former News Editor of Soap Opera Weekly magazine. She also writes contemporary romance as Suleikha Snyder. She loves romance, genre TV and movies, Bollywood and single-malt scotch. Follow her on Twitter @badnecklace.