Willowleaf Lane: RaeAnne Thayne
Forgiveness, wrongly accused or just plain a victim of circumstances many people find themselves ostracized by past mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are of no fault of their own while others will come back and haunt you. When Peyton Gregory enters Sugar Rush and makes small talk with Charlotte little do either of them realize that the past is about to resurface in the present and old feelings are about to come to forefront. Spencer and Charlotte were never really friends but managed to form some type of alliance as kids. Charlotte, although overweight, the brunt of teasing and rude comments from other kids, befriended Spencer whose past was not much better than most kids that came from a poor family. Really good at sports he finally soared and the end result was a lucrative career in baseball until the bottom fell out from under him. Accused of selling steroids and drugs to his teammates he lost his sponsors, credibility and the respect of those living in Hopes Crossing. So, when he saunters into Sugar Rush to find his daughter, who just happens to be the young lady who wandered into her store looking for a sweet treat, needless to say Charlotte was anything but pleased. The town gossiping about his sudden arrival and the fact that Harry Lange was giving him the position of director of the new recreation center, some people questioned his sanity and wondered why Harry would do such a thing. But for those of us that know and love Harry, you would understand that hiring the best man for the job was his motive, giving him another chance possibly a good reason and never really caring what others thought his choice.
Charlotte and Spencer have a short, curt and uneasy conversation as he begins to recall that he knew her in the past but could not believe how amazing she looked in the present. Added in we meet her father Dermot who owns the best comfort food café in town and we learn more about her brother Dylan and the injuries he incurred while in service. But, Charlotte won’t admit that she is taken with Spencer and what happens next is right out of a romance movie. Going for her morning run she never expects to literally run into Spencer, sprain her ankle, injure her hand and light a Knight in Shining armor or Prince Charming he literally carries her home much to her chagrin. But, finding out she now needs to use crutches, learning more about why he is in town hearing his daughter’s take on things you begin to wonder if what they are saying about him is true. His past is revealed and the fact that he admits to working for Charlotte’s father and then what caused everyone in the town to wish he never returned, you wonder just what is true and what is false. But, there is more as we learn about his late wife Jade, their dysfunctional relationship and the end result having to move back to Hopes Crossing with the stigma of knowing that everyone thinks he’s responsible for his wife’s drowning.
Before you can accept forgiveness you have to learn to forgive yourself and deal with your own problems head on. As Charlotte and Spencer’s paths seemed to cross more often they began to realize that old feelings just might be ignited. A simple comment by Peyton set off an amazing chain of events proving to Spencer how this town comes together when they feel a cause is worthwhile. But, sometimes other things get in the way of success and you are blindsided by an issue that you were not aware of or just didn’t see.
Secrets are about to unfold as Peyton has one of her own and Spencer does too. When attending a beading class with some young teens something happens that alerts Charlotte to think that Peyton might be hiding something and that it needs to be addressed. Relating her thoughts to Spencer creates tension but the end result just might open his eyes in more ways than one. A small town that with many people that we have met throughout this amazing Hope Crossing Series. As once again Maura, Katherine, Harry, Dermot and many others come together to hopefully create an event that will spearhead Spencer’s project : Warrior’s Hope.
An ending that will surprise you and a story that will endear you to everyone in Hope’s Crossing. Will Charlotte allow her heart to win out or run away? Will Peyton find her way back and realize that healing comes with work? Will Spencer’s name ever be cleared and what will his final decision be : Portland or Hope’s Crossing after all regardless in 6 months it is all up to him.
Before you can move ahead you need to learn to face what hurts in the present to deal with the past. Eating disorders are quite serious and the author brings to light what happens when one young teen faces so many problems within her young life that she fails to see what is happening to herself. Parents, educators, doctors, clergy and siblings need to be aware of any changes within the appearance or actions of a teen that might cause you to think that they have an eating disorder. There are many warning signs that the author relates in this novel and there are many lessons to be learned by everyone. Read Willowleaf Lane as author RaeAnne Thayne takes us inside the hearts, minds, thoughts and kindnesses of a town that everyone would love to live in and one that she so masterfully created. Forgiveness, loyalty, trust, faith, family and hope: Powerful themes in this outstanding Five Star Novel.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer