Busy with life and work in London, Maddy has put behind her the trauma which caused her to flee the Sussex market town of Havenbury. Or so she thinks. When she's asked to help run the slightly shabby Havenbury Arms after her old friend Patrick suffers a heart attack, how can she refuse? But that's when the panic attacks return worse than ever...
Psychologist Ben is sure he can help Maddy face her fears, but as he finds himself falling for her he is also struggling with a recently uncovered family secret that heaps uncertainty on everything...
Anglophiles will enjoy Howard's well-rounded contemporary, the first in her Havenbury series. Maddy returns to the English market town of Havenbury Magna three years after fleeing college with an undiagnosed case of PTSD, a metal plate in her ankle, and no clear memory of the traumatic incident after Patrick, her honorary godfather and the local publican, suffers a heart attack. She assumes management of the pub, but complications ensue when she reinjures her leg. Her mother, Helen, arrives to help Patrick convalesce, despite their difficult, unexplained history. Meanwhile, Maddy develops a mutual attraction with Patrick's 32-year-old friend Ben, a psychologist and college lecturer. Ben specializes in PTSD and pulls back from their burgeoning relationship for ethical reasons after recognizing the magnitude of her symptoms; other obstacles follow. Howard (Never Marry a Politician, written as Sarah Waights) introduces a substantial cast of characters with ease and successfully juggles the various narrative threads: the pub's future, Maddy's mental health and business prospects, Helen's secrets, and how it all affects a romantic partnership with Ben. This successful entry bodes well for the series.