About the Book
Title: The Other Side of Summer
Author: Elyse Douglas
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Joanna Halloran, a best selling writer and astrologer, lives in a beach house overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. After a violent storm, she roams the beach, glances seaward and spots a man clinging to a piece of wreckage, being tossed helplessly. She dives in and pulls him to safety. Robert Zachary Harrison is from a wealthy, political family. As he slowly recovers from a private plane crash, he and Joanna fall in love and spend passionate and secluded weeks together. But because of family duty, Robert departs, not knowing Joanna is pregnant.
Twenty five years later, Senator Robert Harrison is running for President of the United States. In the midst of a contentious presidential campaign, Joanna’s beautiful daughter, who has a passion to expose secrets, seeks revenge on the father she has never met. She also begins a passionate relationship with her father’s adopted son.
Joanna and Robert must confront the past and present. While the world watches, they struggle with old passions and new secrets that could destroy them both.
Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the married writing team Elyse Parmentier and Douglas Pennington. Elyse grew up near the sea, roaming the beaches, reading and writing stories and poetry, receiving a degree in English Literature. She has enjoyed careers as an English teacher, an actress and a speech-language pathologist. Douglas has been a musician, a graphic designer and an equity trader.
Elyse Douglas, have completed seven novels: The Summer Diary, Christmas for Juliet, Wanting Rita, Christmas Ever After, The Christmas Town, The Christmas Diary and The Other Side of Summer.
Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1KdVjvg
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R90y3L6eC_U
Joanna roamed the beach in the windy, unstable afternoon, shading her eyes as she viewed the expanse of sea. It was after 4 o’clock and the beach was deserted. The waves were breaking heavy on the shore. It was one of her favorite times to walk the beach—just after a storm. She drifted to the edge of the tide as waves splashed and foamed around her ankles. The water was cool and refreshing and helped to ease some of the aching in her right foot. She strolled with her hands locked behind her back, squinting into the gray moving sky. She watched the raw surf curve and break across the beach, observing sandpipers skitter along the edge of the foam, pecking for food.
She lifted the binoculars to her eyes and scanned the horizon, looking at white caps and distant sails. Smoky white and purple wisps of clouds hugged the horizon. She picked at the shells and toed the sand, exploring the stringy seaweed, driftwood and plastic trash, all pushed to shore by the storm. Again she pointed her binoculars toward the sea. She spotted something bobbing in the waves.
She jolted erect, adjusting the focus. At first she thought it was a kayak. She moved toward the water, straining her eyes. Was it some kind of raft? The current was drawing it toward the shore.
Her eyes shifted, and then focused. She saw a body—a person—clinging to a piece of something, floating in toward the beach. It drifted toward a large swell, was seized by the current and then tossed helplessly, bobbing and twisting in a surging wave. It was a man! He was desperately holding on.
Joanna dropped her bag and binoculars, darted into the water, plunged into the cold surf and swam toward him. Coming up for air, she saw him clinging to a piece of debris, wearing an orange life preserver.
As she closed in, another wave struck, smashing down on top of them, spinning him away from her. She dropped under the wave, came up, recovered and relaxed, feeling her shirt swimming around her. She allowed the current to do the work; to carry her in the same direction as the man. Drawing near, she kicked and swam, using all her strength to reach him, before the next charging waves impacted. One threatened, gathering rolling strength, rumbling toward them like thunder. The man reached for her weakly, arms flailing, his pallid face stretched in agony.
“Help me…,” he called.
With her outstretched hand, she reached and snagged him by the collar of his shirt. She yanked him toward her.
The wave struck. Joanna wrapped him with her arms as it pounded them, shoving them carelessly toward the beach.
Together, they thrashed toward shore, gasping. Catching her breath, Joanna struggled to her feet, stumbling for balance across the rocky bottom. Anchoring herself, she helped the man to find his footing. She wrapped an arm around his waist and led him up the beach to safety.
Back at the house, Joanna removed the pants and shirts from the bags and handed them to Robert. They didn’t speak. When Robert left the living room to try on the clothes, Joanna sat, stood and paced with the adolescent body language of desire and nerves.
Robert emerged, feigning a playful, rakish charm, and their eyes danced and their faces grew flush. He stood in olive green Khakis and a yellow polo shirt, and for a moment, Joanna allowed herself to think that she and Robert would fall in love and grow old together. It was a thought she’d never had before; not this exceptional and private thought—not even with her first husband.
When Robert approached and leaned toward her, intimately, she grew in height. “Joanna…I don’t want to go just yet. I don’t want to call them…They’re out there—way out there—somewhere. I don’t want to go back. Not now.”
Joanna’s lips parted, as their private passion expanded. “Then don’t go back. Don’t ever go back.”
Joanna’s muscles softened. She leaned against the door of her heart and it opened, releasing the blazing light of desire that she’d tried to smother. She could already feel Robert’s breath on her. She could hear his voice in her ear, calling her name in the night. She could feel his hands exploring her, finding her, delighting her.
It was clear, in that little doorway of light, that she’d always wanted him. She would reach for him and close the door behind them.
His face moved close to hers. She felt his warm breath. She felt the raw sexual power of him, silently reaching for her. His lips lightly brushed hers. She shivered. She ached for him. Her eyes went vague and unfocused and she closed them, feeling the sting of tears when his tongue slipped between her lips and probed her mouth.
She traced his cheekbones with her hand, touched his hair and ears, fading from consciousness to a rising ecstasy. He broke the kiss gently, and reached for her hand.
Joanna stepped outside, bending into the storm. The cold pelting arrows didn’t stop her. She marched down the stairs and angled left, toward the far jagged cliffs, where piles of fallen rock absorbed the full impact of the angry sea.
She strode rapidly, as if beckoned. Water streamed down her hair and face. Her fleece sweatshirt grew heavy, so she tugged it off and flung it away into the sharp wind. She kicked off her sandals.
She lifted her head to the black moving sky, silently raging at God, at any kind of God. She cursed him. She advanced steadily toward the edge of the cliff, looking about hopelessly, lost in a vicious sorrow.
As she approached the rim, lightning violently struck the cliffs, just missing her. She didn’t flinch, she didn’t move.
She stepped forward, her toes gripping the very soft edge of the cliff. Rocks ticked away, falling 70 feet below. Her feet ached from the cold. She wiped soaking strands of hair from her eyes and peered down at the towering waves smashing against the rocks. Tears streamed down her face.
How easy it would be, she thought. Then, it would all be over. The raging storm in her chest would stop and she’d be at peace. She’d be away from them all: her father, Robert, the Harrison family. Herself!
But the baby. The baby!
Slowly, reluctantly, she backed away, in acceptance of the catastrophe of her life: a lonely, foolish woman who’d allowed herself to become trapped. A prisoner of her own stupidity.
She doubled over in pain and fell to her knees, grabbing her stomach, weeping, her body a spasm of anguish.
She tilted her head back to let the rain beat her face in a ritualistic punishment and purification. Wash it all away, she thought. Wash away all the memories and all the joys and all the pain. Make me clean and new so that my baby will never have to feel the hurt and treachery of the world! Make my baby perfect, pure and wise. Make my baby strong, resilient and vengeful!
Maya went to her mother’s private file cabinet and gave the top drawer a little tug. It was locked. Of course. It was always locked. Her mother was a lock freak. Maya grabbed the foot stool, stood, reached and felt the dusty top closet shelf until she found the key, where she’d found it last Christmas, when her mother had gone out Christmas shopping.
Back at the file cabinet, she opened it. She pulled out the lower drawer and searched for the file that was labeled PERSONAL. Maya snaked her hand into the file and drew out an old yellow envelope that had JOANNA written on it in very skillful script.
She extracted the yellow creased letter, shook it open and read it again, just as she had done several times the previous Christmas. The handwriting was clear, the letters carefully formed.
I am not a poet or a writer of sonnets. I’m a practical man who has had his foundation shaken to the core. If there were truths I once held as true, they are now questioned. If there were absolutes, they have been shattered. If life held promise and clear pathways to success and achievement, they have been obscured and lost.
My darling, I have simply fallen in love with you. It is frightening and wonderful. I sometimes think that when God created heaven and earth—if he did—that love was the one thing that he kept a secret, deep within the hearts of the blessed and the deserving. I think he probably placed the diamond of it in very few hearts. But he placed it in yours, Joanna, and I have benefited from your prodigious intelligence and your astounding beauty.
I will come back to you, Joanna. I have to. I have no other choice. Wait for me, my darling. Wait for me. We have many wonderful years together.
With deepest love,
—I, Robert Zachary Harrison, vow to return to you.
Maya carefully replaced the letter into the envelope and returned it to the file. She stared at nothing, her eyes unfocused and filled with gloomy thoughts. She wanted the father she’d never met to pay for his sins. She’d wanted him to pay dearly for his lies. But he would become the next president of the United States and nothing could stop him… or could she?
They slept in the cottage, although neither had slept much. Joanna now lay in bed alone, staring into the humid darkness, confused and haunted by feelings of betrayal and compassion; her mind filled with a virulent strain of anger. She felt betrayed by a capricious world that promenades romance and love across the movie screens and the pages of steamy novels, with the false promise of fulfillment and happiness. In magazines, pop songs and TV ads, the young, with sassy attitudes and adolescent insouciance, gyrate and pose, licking their fat sensual lips in an invitation to fall under the sinister spell of Neptune, the planet of illusion.
She knew all this. She’d written about it in her book, using the symbols and signs of astrology. She had even used fairy tales as an example: Cinderella and Snow White. She had warned her readers about these not so innocent Neptunian stories and had just stopped short of writing that the naked reality of love often lies somewhere between deplorable hope and childish despair.
Joanna rolled to her side and stared out the window in an effort of self-control. The first gray light of dawn began chasing away shadows. Her compassion for Robert grew as the aching minutes passed. He had left a few minutes before and was surely roaming the beach, haggard and conflicted, as he had been most of the night.
The sun would rise shortly and the unraveling, indefinite day would begin. The painful process of separation would begin. Their perfect lifetime together was coming to an end and she was entirely unprepared for it, despite all of her astrological “wisdom” and counseling experience. She had conveniently shut out the possibility that Robert would ever leave. Over the past weeks, she had completely ignored the inevitable and the obvious: Robert had another life and he would have to go back to it. She was, after all, the “other” woman.
Joanna had no illusions. Regardless of whether Robert returned to her or not, their life together would never be the same. Their transparent innocence had finally been seen for what it was: a chimera, a little fairy tale that would have lasted forever, except that there was an epilogue. A disclaimer: “Dear Reader, all of the previous pages were written under the influence of self-delusion.”
Morning came with a wet silver light, a brisk wind and a gentle mist. Joanna dressed in jeans, a sweatshirt and a jacket, and left the cottage for the house. She paused near the edge of the cliff and searched for Robert. The surf was restless. The beach was empty. Where had he gone?
Reading the first paragraphs of the story, you can already tell how Joanna kept things to herself. How she wanted something stirring to happen to her life that would wake her up.
“Everything had a sharpened edge to it: the wind, the sea, her thoughts, and emotions.”
I love Joanna’s personality. How she thinks of everything, how her ‘defect’ made her an even stronger woman than she is, how she accepted flaws unlike any other, how scared she is to try something that has haunted her for years, and how beautiful she thinks of life.
Robert on the other hand seemed to be acting younger than his age. He simply ponder things in a more naive way than Joanna does. But one thing is for sure, he’s the kind of guy that wouldn’t be stopped when he’s determined to accomplish something. You can compare him to a little boy sometimes, lost, longing for a love. He keeps to himself, he doesn’t liked to be called boy or weak, for all he knows is that he can handle things by himself.
I admire how Astrology became a crucial part of the story, a way for the characters to find love trust and assurance. Surprisingly, I found some similarities between me and Joanna. We’re both afraid to look at the future, to be sure, to be dictated at, how thoughts scares us, consumes us and sometimes frightens us.
“You don’t know what it means to sacrifice a little for the good of the others.”
I also love how we were given enough time to be inside the character’s minds.
“Are we really that important?”
The plane crash shook something else. Robert made a better version of himself, as he struggled to grow up taking on the responsibilities of his father that he only half-heartedly willing to fulfill back then, how Connie challenged him to be a better man. And lastly, how the fearful Joanna accepted with open arms whatever challenge is thrown at her, whenever wherever.
It just goes to show and proves to us how dirty the world of politics is like, and how the power of Astrology connected and directed them to be what they are now.