Two years after being left at the altar on Christmas Day, assisted living nurse Noelle North takes six weeks of vacation and empties her savings to rent a small pink cottage on the Gulf shore of Florida, far from her freezing home in Boston. On her first morning beach walk, she meets a charming little boy, Silas Bellingham, and his dog, Duke, as they roam the sand. The next day, he introduces her to his great-grandmother, Althea, and Noelle recognizes that the elderly matriarch is a victim of elder abuse. She immediately fires the cruel caretaker and escorts her off the property, then calls Silas’s father, Jake, who’s at work in New York, to inform him of the problems. When he angrily demands to know what gave her the right to barge into his family, she responds strongly by unleashing her credentials and demonstrating no deference to his wealth and status. In fact, when he arrives a few days later to investigate matters, she’s already moved Althea, who’s significantly more alert and engaged, into the first-floor master suite … which had been his bedroom.
As Jake and Noelle become friends, they each learn about the burdens the other carries. Jake is appalled how Noelle’s fiancé ditched her, while she’s stunned to learn the truth behind Silas’s mother’s death and why Jake is so determined never to remarry. As the two grow closer, they realize that not only do they both love Silas and Althea, but they also trust — and love — each other, twin lonely souls recognizing they’ve finally met their true partner.
Judith Keim has written a gentle and sweet love story that deals compassionately with sensitive issues like elder abuse, neglected children, troubled relationships, and human resilience. Although the story seems simplistic with its focus on domestic issues without an erotic tussle in sight, it’s a thoughtful slice of life and love reborn.