"One of the best storytellers the genre has produced" (Amazon.com), JoAnn Ross creates characters so vibrant and funny they're irresistible. Now she triumphs again with a remarkably intimate tale that illuminates the ardent emotions of a woman coming to terms with her life -- and with her heart.
After her seemingly idyllic marriage turns out to be a pretty illusion, Savannah Townsend returns to her hometown of Coldwater Cove, Washington. Determined to live life on her own terms, she takes on the task of restoring the local Far Harbor lighthouse and making it the cozy inn she had always dreamed of. But she hasn't anticipated opposition from the lighthouse's owner, her grandmother's disturbing memory losses, or the problems of an emotionally wounded teenage girl. Most of all, she hasn't planned on having feelings for Daniel OHalloran, a caring and passionate man from her past.
As affection moves to attraction and then to something far deeper, Savannah learns that in life nothing worth having comes easily. She also discovers that some dreams really are forever.
A novel of uncommon grace and power, Far Harbor is at once a poignant love story and an emotion-packed account of one woman's journey home.
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October 30, 2006
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Excerpt from Far Harbor by JoAnn Ross
She was not running away. Savannah Townsend might not have a firm grasp on every little aspect of her life these days, but about this she was perfectly clear.
She may have walked away from her marriage, the career she'd worked hard to achieve, and a spectacular Malibu home with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the vast blue Pacific Ocean. But what was a woman to do when her seemingly idyllic existence turned out to be little more than a pretty illusion, as ephemeral as the morning fog curling around her ankles?
"Well?" Lilith Lindstrom Ryan's smile was brimming with self-satisfaction. "Isn't it perfect?"
"For Norman Bates, perhaps," Savannah murmured as she eyed the Far Harbor lighthouse with misgiving.
Savannah remembered the lighthouse standing regally at the edge of the cliff like an empress above a forest of dark green conifers. Now it had the look of a dowager who, through no fault of her own, had somehow found herself on skid row.
Graffiti covered the graceful tower that had once gleamed like sunshine on snow; the glass of the lantern room had been broken, and the railings that had been painted to match the red top cap were not only rusted, they looked downright dangerous.
The two houses on the cliff-side property were in even worse shape. Paint was peeling off the once white clapboards, and curling red shingles suggested that the roofs would leak.
Surprisingly, the grounds hadn't been entirely ignored since the lighthouse duties had been taken over by an automated light housed in an unattractive but utilitarian concrete tower a mile away. Someone had planted the most amazing garden Savannah had ever seen. A dazzling mix of tall, stunningly beautiful lilies, irises, Shasta daisies, and spiky bright snapdragons in primary colors were bordered by snowy white clouds of baby's breath.
"It was beautiful once," Savannah's mother reminded her. "And could be again. You just need to use your imagination, darling."
"I am. I'm imagining spiders the size of my fist and the hordes of mice that are undoubtedly living in the place." Savannah really hated rodents. Especially these days, when they reminded her so much of her rat of an ex-husband. "It's a good thing we're here in the daylight, because if we'd come at night, I just might start believing in the ghost."
The lighthouse was rumored to be haunted. By whom was a matter of speculation that had kept the good citizens of Coldwater Cove, Washington, arguing for nearly a century, but the most popular notion was that the ghost was a former lighthouse keeper's pregnant wife, Lucy Hyatt.
"A ghost would be wonderful publicity," Lilith said enthusiastically. "But even without it, lighthouses are incredibly romantic. And that sweet little assistant lighthouse keeper's cottage will make a perfect honeymoon getaway."
"Good idea. Are you going to call Frankenstein and his bride for the booking, or shall I?" Savannah asked dryly.
"You were always such an optimistic little girl." The silver crescent moons hanging from Savannah's mother's ears caught the stuttering morning sunlight as she shook her head. "So open to new things. Your aura used to be as bright as a morning star. These days it's distressingly muddy....
"Why, if I weren't a white witch, I'd put a spell on your horrid ex-husband for hurting you so badly. At least you had the foresight not to take his name."
"Savannah Fantana would have sounded like something from an old Gilda Radner Saturday Night Live skit." Savannah wished the subject hadn't come up. Talking about her unfaithful, amoral ex-husband definitely wasn't on today's to-do list.
Today was about finding a suitable bed-and-breakfast location. Having spent weeks searching Washington's Olympic Peninsula, Savannah had begun to despair of ever finding a suitable candidate for her post-divorce venture.
"Besides," she said, "as I told Raine when I first came home, I think my pride was a lot more wounded than my heart."
"That's why you spent all those days hiding in bed and the nights crying into your pillow."
"All right, perhaps I was more upset than I let on," Savannah reluctantly allowed. "But I've put my marriage behind me." Didn't she have the papers, stamped with the official seal of the state of California to prove it? "In fact, I honestly believe Kevin might have actually done me a favor."