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Summer Return

by Elise K. Ackers

He’ll never come back to stay, unless someone asks him to…

Funerals can bring people together who are best kept apart. Ethan Foster, home to mourn his sister-in-law, finds himself as unwelcome as ever in the town that once meant the world to him. For more than a decade he’s been saddled with a bad reputation – a drunk, a deserter – and he’s lived with it, will keep living with it, because the only way to clear his name is to share his secrets. But the secrets are not his to tell and their telling would destroy the family he loves and the woman he’s never forgiven himself for leaving behind.

Samantha O’Hara once loved freely, but now she doesn’t. Now she leaves before she’s left and keeps her vulnerabilities tucked away. But when Ethan Foster walks back into town, finally looking at her the way she always wanted him to, she finds her hard-won armour developing chinks. She can’t – won’t – have anything to do with any reinvention Ethan is going through. But maybe this isn’t a new Ethan… Maybe he’s the same Ethan she fell in love with all those years ago.

And maybe, just maybe, this time their love will be strong enough to make him stay.

*Originally published as Ask Me To Stay. Expanded and revised edition.

There’s a lot of 3 star (or lower) reviews for this book and I’m not sure they are all deserved.  I think part of the problem is that this was marketed as a romance but it is really more of a women’s fiction story … although, can you say that if the main character who does the growing is a man?  Ethen does a lot evaluating through the story – his life and relationships – and has to decide what he wants his future to look like.

Unfortunately all of this reflecting comes because of the death of his sister-in-law.  Home for her funeral he doesn’t head out of town right away like he normally does.  Instead he finds himself spending time with his brother, niece & nephew, and the only woman he’s ever loved.  And it’s causing him to really think.  He has his reasons for staying away but it’s getting harder and harder to remember why they were so important.

I feel bad for all of the people involved but especially how much Ethan felt like he had to isolate himself from those he loved.  There are misunderstandings, miscommunications, and hard feelings that they just feel like they can’t talk about.  It’s been hard for all of them and luckily they finally reach a point where they have to do something to make things right again.