Aug 29 2014 2:00pm

First Look: Barbara Davis’s The Wishing Tide (September 2, 2014)

The Wishing Tide by Barbara DavisBarbara Davis
The Wishing Tide
NAL / September 2, 2014 / $15.00 print, $9.99 digital

Five years ago, Lane Kramer moved to Starry Point, North Carolina, certain the quaint island village was the place to start anew. Now the owner of a charming seaside inn, she’s set aside her dreams of being a novelist and of finding love again. When English professor Michael Forrester appears on Lane’s doorstep in the middle of a storm, he claims he’s only seeking a quiet place to write his book. Yet he seems eerily familiar with the island, leaving Lane wondering if he is quite what he appears.

Meanwhile, Mary Quinn has become a common sight, appearing each morning on the dunes behind the inn, to stare wistfully out to sea. Lane is surprised to find a friendship developing with the older woman, who possesses a unique brand of wisdom, despite her tenuous grip on reality.

As Lane slowly unravels Mary’s story and a fragile relationship between Lane and Michael blooms, Lane realizes the three share a common bond. But when a decades-old secret suddenly casts its shadow over them, Lane must choose between protecting her heart and fighting for the life—and the love—she wants.

With some books, it is difficult to pick just “one thing” to highlight. The Wishing Tide by Barbara Davis is one of those books. The characterization, the plot, and the setting all synergistically complement each other, resulting in a beguiling, romantic, dark, and comedic story.

There is the hauntingly desolate introduction, and then the sense of tragic secrets just waiting, coiled and hidden in the darken corners, to explosively change the lives of Michael Forrester and Mary Quinn and by association, Lane Kramer.

Through my fault
Through my fault
Through my most grievous fault.
The sea, it seems, has become my priest, the punishing, faceless thing to which I confess my sins, silent witness to my self-inflicted wounds. We’re alike in many ways, a restless beating of water and salt, a shifting and seething of secrets, of treacheries. Reckless. Dangerous.

But there is also sly humor as the author almost sardonically poke funs at all the gothic trappings and hints of misfortune:

Michael didn’t move for several minutes, waiting until he was sure Lane Kramer had moved away from his door. What was she waiting for? The metallic snick of a pistol magazine sliding into place. A cryptic call to his comrades in Prague?

The characters are engaging and appealing. Each have secrets and hurts, in their own way tragic and heartbreaking, bringing them to Starry Point. With her ragtag bag lady appearance, Mary Quinn bears the scars of her tragic tormented life more visually then Lane Kramer and Michael Forrester, but she is remarkable in her normalcy.

Oh, I’m quite aware of how ridiculous I am. I’m called dirty Mary by the locals, though Crazy Mary would be more appropriate. I’m not dirty, but I am crazy. I have the pills and the scars to prove it. I don’t mind the name. It keeps people at a distance, which is exactly how I like them—the more distant, the better. I have no wish to share myself with anyone, you see, to unwrap either the then or the now, the before or the after. I move alone through the world. It’s better that way—safer.

Lane and Michael have the façade of people who have bounced back, but it’s the little things that give them away—the lack of confidence, the absence of contentment. Lane is very disparaging about what she does:

“What is a . . . real writer?”

The sudden change of subject gave Lane momentary whiplash. “What?”

“You said you weren’t a real writer. I’m curious to know what that means.”

“I just meant the stuff I write isn’t—I don’t know—important.”

“Ah, as opposed to tedious biographies about dead Victorian authors?”

And Michael, well he wonders if he is on the right career path especially since he has proof that his father bought his professorship.

“Can I ask you a question?” he asked, setting his glass aside. Lane nodded, but her gold-flecked eyes were suddenly wary. “This place—the inn—do you enjoy running it?”

”Very much. Why?”

“And your articles—you like writing them?" Her brow furrowed and he could tell she was trying to surmise where these questions were leading. “I guess I’m trying to figure out how you know if you’re where you’re supposed to be in life, or if you’re just, you know, treading water.”

The words seemed to catch Lane off guard.

Even with the dark undertones, the book is appealingly romantic, with hints of comedy. To get her mother Cynthia off her back about the lack of man in her life, Lane says that Michael is her boyfriend. She is then appalled when her mother swoops in to check him out. Surprisingly Michael agrees to go along with the temporary charade—in fact he amusingly relish it:

He made a beeline for Lane, planting a kiss on her temple before dusting a smudge of flour of her chin. “Why didn’t you wake me?”

Lane met his gaze with a mixture of wariness and uncertainty. To buy time she filled a mug with coffee and pressed it into his hands. “You looked so peaceful,” she said finally, startled by how easily the lie rolled off her tongue. “I thought after last night you could use the rest.”

Michael smiled, a slow suggestive curl that made her insides skitter. “Did you?”

Lane felt her cheeks go hot. He had purposely misconstrued her meaning, leaving the unsaid lingering suggestively in the bacon scented air. He really was enjoying himself immensely. And if her mother’s discreetly averted gaze was any indication, she had swallowed the show hook, line, and sinker.

To further enrich the story, there is a sense of rightness as relationships are formed, mended and strengthened. You know at the end that while there may be some fundamental differences, Lane, Michael, Cynthia, and Mary have learned the importance of communicating—not only talking but listening. And because of this each has been able to move forward to a richer life.

Learn more or pre-order a copy of The Wishing Tide by Barbara Davis, out September 2, 2014:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & NobleBuy at Indiebound



Leigh Davis, blogger

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