By LAURA MOORE
Gloucester, Massachusetts and Coral Beach, Florida -- Present Day
Lily Banyon and Sean McDermott have known each other since the cradle. Their mothers are best friends, as are their grandmothers. Growing up, Sean and Lily tormented each other -- sometimes deliberately, sometimes unwittingly -- and challenged each other, but although neither would have admitted it, they also admired and respected one another. And both of them secretly yearned for the other's love. Lily left Coral Beach ten years ago to go to college, and she has never been back . . . until now. A marine biologist and a respected scientist in her field, Lily's newest assignment is to document the coral reefs that gave her hometown its name, and to determine if they are damaged or diseased. Preparations for the last-minute project are rushed, so it isn't until she is on the plane for Florida that Lily learns that her erstwhile tormentor is now the mayor of Coral Beach, as well as the head of the committee to which she must report.
On a day that begins badly and rapidly progresses to hellish, Sean McDermott learns that the Center for Marine Studies has not sent Dr. George Hunt to complete the Coral Beach reef study begun by another scientist who became ill, but Dr. Lily Banyon. Unfortunately -- or perhaps fortunately -- Sean doesn't learn about the change until moments before he walks into a meeting of the beach advisory committee. Mere seconds before he comes face to face the woman who has been the subject of his nightmares -- and of his dreams and his fantasies -- for years. Sean needs the results of her study to determine whether or not to support a proposed marina development project, but he's determined to tread warily . . . the last time they met, she'd almost broken his nose.
Although their work doesn't bring them into frequent contact with each other, their grandmothers do. Both Lily and Sean are dismayed to discover that the attraction between them has not faded over time; if anything, it's even more intense now. But neither one is willing to give an inch because both are certain that with the other on the scene things will soon go to hell in a hand basket. Can these two old adversaries possibly work together for the sake of their hometown? Is there a chance they will relax their guards long enough to discover they both yearn for the same thing?
NIGHT SWIMMING is a compelling, thoroughly entrancing story of love and families and second chances. Sean and Lily are multi-layered, very likeable characters, with fears and foibles, hopes and vulnerabilities that make them wonderfully realistic, and which will endear them to readers. Lily and Sean have hurt and been hurt by each other in the past, and each expects the other to destroy their peace of mind, but both are determined to guard their hearts. They taunt and challenge each other at every opportunity, but love and passion can surmount all obstacles.
Laura Moore writes knowledgeably and realistically about family dynamics, conflict, and passion, both adversarial and loving. Her descriptions of the small coastal town and of the reefs and the plant and animal life found there bring the setting vividly to life. A varied cast of secondary characters, from meddling grandmothers to greasy-palmed developers, rounds out the story, adding depth and texture to this wonderful, well-written tale.
For a captivating, almost impossible to put down story of love and second chances, I highly recommend NIGHT SWIMMING. Laura Moore is an author that readers will want to watch, for she may well be one of tomorrow's romance superstars.
Review by Susan Lantz