Barbara Freethy





Onyx, May 2003
Reviewed by Sissy Jacobson

Kate McKenna watches the boats sail in and begin to fill the slips at the marina in anticipation of the annual Castleton Invitational Sailboat Races. With the wind up and a storm approaching, Kate's uneasiness increases. Old memories, best forgotten, insist on intruding into the life she now lives. Will a new love help overcome her problems or add to them?

Eight years ago the three teenaged McKenna girls and their father Duncan, had their fifteen minutes of fame by winning the world famous Winston Challenge sailboat race. While some boats turned back, the Moon Dancer and her rival, the Betsy Marie, sailed into the face of one of the worst storms in ocean-racing history. The Betsy Marie went down with all hands lost, save one. Who was he, and where is he now? Today, and the days that follow, will affect the members of the McKenna family in different ways. Each is reminded that old secrets must be kept.

Ashley McKenna, the middle sister, a photographer in Castleton, had sailed around the world for three years with her family. But now, at the marina shooting pictures of the ships and their crews, she is having a difficult time making herself remain on the bobbing pier. Her fears and anxieties are palpable.

Party-hearty youngest sister, Caroline, a hairdresser, is more like her father whose attention she craves. The wind makes her long to sail once more; to feel the boat roll beneath her feet and the ocean spray in her face.

The harder the wind blows, the more Duncan McKenna drinks, and the more he drinks, the more he embellishes his tales. As the story moves along we find we have no compassion for the man who, even now, causes problems for the daughters who love and protect him.

Tyler Jamison, world famous journalist and war correspondent, arrives in Castleton with the sailboats, the wind, and the incoming storm. He claims he is here to do a "where are they now" type story on the famous McKennas. But why is a reporter of his stature interested in such a tame story? Is he here because he truly wants to do this, or is he here because of a promise he makes to his brother? Will meeting the McKennas change his mind concerning his brother's wishes?

Beginning with DANIEL'S GIFT, I have read every book written by Ms. Freethy. Most of them grace my keeper shelves to be read and enjoyed time and again. But with SUMMER SECRETS, Ms. Freethy has far surpassed anything she has written to date. Her characters, even the most minor ones, are three dimensional, woven so tightly together with the plot, narration, and dialogue, they become seamlessly intertwined. She has worked not one, but two secrets so securely into the story, they don't begin to unravel until she starts pulling the first thread to slowly reveal the mysteries one at a time.

Summer Secrets is a moving, powerful book. It sustains the suspense to almost the very end, keeping this reader up until two o'clock in the morning, unable to put it down. This is one book fans of Barbara Freethy and fans of suspense thrillers do not want to miss.


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