Reviewed by Philip K. Jason
Ms. McLane’s fourth entry in her popular “Cricket Creek” series (and her eighteenth title overall) continues to explore the charm of a friendly Kentucky riverfront town in the midst of change. While business ventures can enhance the town, they can also undermine its caring, relaxed, neighborly character. In this installment, the seniors’ community of Whisper’s Edge needs a financial rescue. While the town has made a comeback from hard times, largely due to its minor league baseball team, Whisper’s Edge is struggling. And the land it sits on is valuable.
Meet twenty-nine year old Savannah Perry, a transplant to the town who bears the emotional scars of growing up in the foster care system. Savannah is the social director of Whisper’s Edge and assistant to the manager, Kate. Savannah, delightful and compassionate, is the only under fifty-five resident of the community, whose elderly population has provided a team of parental figures for her. Attractive but insecure, she strives to create activities that liven up and bond the residents – and she succeeds.
A young lawyer, Tristan McMillan, has purchased the financially troubled community from his mean-spirited, judgmental grandfather and hopes to prove himself by turning the investment into a profitable enterprise. He is still researching the possibilities as he arrives on the scene.
Hunky Tristan makes a big splash, literally, by helping Savannah rescue a resident’s floundering dog from the community pool. There is a spark between these two young adults, who carefully negotiate the power of that attraction. Savannah’s directness and common sense are refreshing to Tristan. She feels herself beneath the notice of this well-educated man – but she is wrong. A self-described workaholic nerd, Tristan has his own self-esteem problems.
For light reading, this novel takes on serious issues and themes with power and insight. The risks of change are everywhere: in personal habits, in relationships, and in the future of the retirement community and the town.
The romance between Savannah and Tristan heats up, complicated by the ebbs and flows of need and fear. It is echoed by the romance that develops between mid-fifties Kate and the handsome, sixtyish widower, Ben, whose wife has recently passed away. Kate, who had divorced a cheating husband, wonders about opening herself to love again. Ben wonders if he is yet ready. Their dance of passion and hesitation is as intriguing and well-drawn as that between Savannah and Tristan.
LuAnn McLane had to struggle to keep the romance of the older folks in the story. The publisher resisted this dimension, thinking Ms. McLane’s audience would be turned off by it. Actually, it adds depth and realism, making the novel even more engaging.
The plot hinges on Tristan’s ultimate decision. While falling in love with Savannah , he discovers the need to define himself in terms other than financial success. He also comes to understand the importance of Whisper’s Edge. An offer for the property made by investor Mitch Monroe, a town benefactor, would bring Tristan an easy and sizeable profit, but Mitch’s plans for the property would shut Whisper’s Edge down.
Tension builds as misunderstandings about Tristan’s evolving outlook threaten his relationship with Savannah and with others whose well-being depends on the seniors’ community.
“Whisper’s Edge” persuades readers that one can “grow up” at any age. That is, one can find the strength and wisdom to choose a fulfilling life direction while accepting the risks of that choice.
For all of the anguish that the characters go through, Ms. McLane reveals a deft hand at good-natured humor that lightens the atmosphere. She builds marvelous “everyday” scenes – like a spirited get-together in a local restaurant – that blend characterization, dialogue, and sensory detail in a highly effective balance. There is a lot to like about “Whisper’s Edge.”
About LuAnn McLane:
LuAnn McLane, who writes southern bent romantic comedy for NAL, is currently penning the sixth novel in her Cricket Creek series (the fifth comes out later this year). Her books have appeared on best-seller lists including Barnes and Noble, Rhapsody and Doubleday Book clubs. She recently collaborated with country superstar Wynonna Judd on the novel “Restless Heart.” Formerly from Florence, Kentucky, Ms. McLane moved to Southwest Florida a few years ago and now lives in Naples. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys family, friends, cooking, reading, music, travel, University of Kentucky basketball, and our local beaches. Catch up with her at http://www.luannmclane.com.
[This review first appeared in Florida Weekly and is reprinted by permission.]
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