When seventeen year old Emily Benedict's mother dies, she finds herself going to live with Vance, the grandfather she's never known, in a small town called Mullaby. She's expecting change and struggles to fit in, but what she gets far exceeds her wildest dreams. First off, her kindly grandfather is a literal giant of a man, measuring eight feet tall. Then there are the mysterious lights which linger outside her house after dark. And then there is Win, son of the local town's leading family, whose interest runs hot and cold and oh so frustrating. But most odd of all is the legacy of her mother Dulcie, who apparently left Mullaby behind after causing mayhem and meanness, none of which translates into the caring mother Emily knew. It's gonna be a long transition.
Meanwhile, while Emily is facing her own problems, her next door neighbor Julia is still exorcising her own from her high school years. Though twenty years have passed, Julia's heart still belongs to the handsome Sawyer, but their history is so complicated that Julia keeps running from his advances. Her plan is to pay off the mortgage on the restaurant she inherited from her father and get back to her "real" life in Baltimore. But Sawyer's determined to find out her secrets and regain her trust; Julia's just as determined not to let him.
This fabulous, wonderful, engaging book stole my heart from the opening pages. The characters are so real, so alive, that I had to keep reminding myself that this was fiction. I loved Mullaby and its small town atmosphere; I loved the characters and their faults; I loved the magical realism that Ms. Allen so easily imbues into her novels. Building steadily toward its climax, the tension in this story kept me up late looking for a stopping point which never came. I'm enchanted, I'm transfixed, I'm delighted. Ms. Allen's works have become auto-buys for me. Highly recommended!