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    SUMMER LIGHT by Luanne Rice

    Bantam, July 2001

    May Taylor is on an airplane when her daughter Kylie notices a man nearby and claims that an angel is telling her to talk to him. Kylie asks him to help her when the plane lands shortly before it makes an emergency landing. The man, professional hockey player Martin Cartier, is intrigued by the little girl and even more intrigued by her mother. Of course he doesn't believe that Kylie really had a warning from his own late daughter.

    May and Martin fall into a romance made more difficult by Martin's unwillingness to discuss his daughter or his father, whom he blames for his daughter's death. Yet the angel continues to insist that Kylie do something, and May feels that she must take steps to reconcile this man she loves with his family. As Martin fights the Cartier curse which allows him to be one of the top hockey players in the world yet prevents him from achieving the Stanley cup, he goes into denial over his gradual loss of eyesight.

    Author Luanne Rice provides a nice blend of psychic talent without overwhelming the story with it. Martin Cartier is an attractively damaged character, filled with anger toward anyone who mucks with the memories of his daughter or tries to get him to change his attitude toward his once-loved father.

    SUMMER LIGHT builds to a strong and emotionally compelling finish. Cartier's increasing blindness makes him more aggressive on the hockey court, more resentful of anything that prevents him from achieving his goal, and afraid to commit even more fully to May when he knows that he may exist as a damaged and dependent human. Unfortunately, the first half of the novel is extremely slow and light on emotional impact. While the first half describes May and Martin falling in love, the reader is not given any particular reason for believing that the two are uniquely intended for one another. Indeed, they seem to spend most of their time apart as Martin, again, abandons their relationship.

    The angel of Martin's daughter repeatedly urged Kylie to do something before something happens. You have to believe that the something going to happen is Martin's blindness. Still, it is difficult to see what possible difference a reconciliation with Martin's father would have made whether before or after Martin loses his sight.

    I recommend this book because of the power of its close, because of the emotional sensitivity that Rice shows in depicting Martin's increasing blindness, and because of the nicely handled psychic elements. Despite its substantial flaws, SUMMER LIGHT is worth the read.

    Three Stars

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