Review of KISS RIVER by Diane Chamberlain
MIRA, February 2003
A beautiful woman arrives at Kiss River, North Carolina with a story about being a lighthouse historian, but she doesn't even know how to pronounce the name of the lenses used to light the sky. Gina Higgins is desperate to raise the light, now somewhere at sea after the lighthouse was partially destroyed by a storm, but she won't share her secrets, or her terrible pain, with anyone. Not even with handsome Clay O'Neill.
Clay can't forgive himself for the the death of his wife--a death that only he knows he is largely responsible for. The last thing he needs is another woman. Yet he feels drawn to the beautiful woman who appeared in his lighthouse. He knows that she is hiding something, but so is he.
Author Diane Chamberlain weaves the contemporary story of Gina and Clay together with a diary account of the early days of World War II when the German U-Boats worked terrible devastation on U.S. costal shipping and a young woman fell in love and searched for spies. In general, this type of story works best when there are parallels between the two stories. In KISS RIVER, no such parallels exist. The diary account is that of Gina's grandmother, a woman who gave up her only child to adoption. Now Gina wants to adopt herself and has become obsessively convinced that raising the lighthouse lamp will lead to enough wealth to overcome the obstacles to her goal.
KISS RIVER is well written, although marred by continuity errors (Gina touches Clay on the arm, then does it again a paragraph later, logs off the computer--and does it again a paragraph later). I didn't feel that the diary inserts were worth the pages--the gradually unfolding story could have been sumarized in a paragraph since there was no special reason why the reader couldn't know all that Gina knew--unless Chamberlain felt that we would lose sympathy with Gina if we knew she was being somewhat less than rational in her pursuit of adoption.
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