I like this sappy, romantic trio of stories that take place in the same summer vacation home on an island near Seattle over several years and involve three different couples. Each couple is unique. In "Private Paradise," a widow with a teenage son accidently ends up sharing the house with a divorced father of a rebellious pre-teen. The kids decide that their parents would make a perfect couple. In "Old Things," a single mom, workaholic divorcee of two girls rents the home to spend quality time with her two daughters and meets the guy she had a heavy crush on when she stayed at the house as a teen and he lived with his uncle. Thirty years later and still a bachelor, he is spending time at his late uncle's island home and lets her believe he is the island handyman instead of a high powered Seattle executive. In "Island Time," a staid widower is staying at the house while planning a new marina for the island and a quirky, Hispanic marine biologist is hired by his assistant to do the environmental study which will allow the plans for the marina to go ahead if she approves them. The young woman is broke, out of work, has two chihuahuas, a tangerine colored Volkswagon bug that barely makes it off the ferry before it breaks down, and loves spicy salsa music, food, skimpy outfits, and she finds her boss is not too bad either.
The San Juan Islands in Washington State come alive in That Summer Place, an anthology set on fictional Spruce Island. In "Old Things" by Jill Barnett, California divorceé Catherine Winslow seeks to recreate the magic of her childhood with her two daughters on the island where her family spent many happy summers. She has no idea that she is about to revive a teenage romance as well.
In Debbie Macomber's "Private Paradise," widow Beth Graham is invited to stay on an island with friends. But when a last-minute accident keeps her friends from the island, Beth and her son end up sharing quarters with a handsome single father, John Livingstone, and his teenage daughter. Close quarters cause tempers to flare, but Beth and John just may manage to find love before the trip is over.
"Island Time" by Susan Wiggs finds workaholic Mitch Rutherford and Dr. Rosalinda Galvez busily conducting an environmental impact study of the island, although Mitch wonders if he will ever get anything done with the beautiful doctor around.
Not only are the four tales extraordinary (linked together with the common thread of magic), each contains an element of enchantment. In Nora Roberts's "Ever After," the gift of an ancient pendant belonging to a fairy changes two lives forever. Jill Gregory's "Catch a Falling Star" finds a princess forced into a political marriage with a wife-murdering barbarian, while Ruth Ryan Langan's "The Curse of Castle Clough" offers a ghost who helps save a castle from the auction block and its owner from a life without love. Finally, a burned-out American tourist travels back in time to be rescued by--and to rescue--a handsome sailing captain in "Starry, Starry Night" by Marianne Willman