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Summer By The Sea    by Susan Wiggs order for
Summer By The Sea
by Susan Wiggs
Order:  USA  Can
Mira, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Rosa Capoletti is ecstatic the day her best friend Louise accepts her fiancÚ's marriage proposal. She's even more thrilled that Jason decided to pop the question at her restaurant, 'Celesta's By the Sea'. But Rosa's joy soon turns bittersweet as she begins analyzing her own non-existent love life. She doesn't want to admit that she never got over her first love, wealthy Alexander Montgomery, or the way he unceremoniously dumped her just before heading for college. She'd much rather admit that her restaurant has needed every moment of her time over the last dozen years. Turning a former pizza joint into a four-star restaurant left little time for any sort of social life.

But that handy excuse is shot down when Alex returns home and steps over the threshold of Celesta's. Everything Rosa has felt for him since she was a little girl re-surfaces and she must admit to herself, and also to Alex, that she's never got over him, and probably never will. Alex too, has come to realize that his life has had very little meaning without Rosa in it. He's ready to renew their relationship but Rosa is much more cautious. She's certain that Alex will only break her heart all over again once he decides to head back to New York. But as the days and weeks pass, and Alex persists in trying to win her back, Rosa comes to realize that his abandonment of her had nothing to do with their social status and everything to do with a dark and tragic Montgomery secret.

Susan Wiggs' unique gift is her ability to create interesting and complex characters with whom readers readily identify; she's done so again here, particularly in the indomitable Rosa. The most poignant scenes are flashbacks that show Rosa and Alex meeting and bonding as only two lonely children can. As they grow up together they become not only playmates, but also soul mates. Wiggs makes her story even more sumptuous by adding a wonderful assortment of Italian recipes. Don't pass up Summer By the Sea, another fine story by a master storyteller.

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