Is love always worth saving - no matter what the cost?
The car crash should have killed her. But rookie paramedic Peter Webster takes the emergency call, and helps the young woman, Sheila Arsenault, to survive. After the accident, she haunts his thoughts, despite his misgivings about getting involved with a patient. Soon he is embroiled in an intense love affair and in Sheila's troubled life.
Eighteen years later, Sheila is long gone and Peter is raising their daughter, Rowan, alone. But Rowan is veering dangerously off course and for the first time in their quiet life together Peter fears for her future. He seeks out the only person who may be able to help Rowan, although Sheila's return is sure to unleash all the questions Peter has been carefully keeping at bay: Why would a mother leave her family? How did the marriage of two people in love unravel?
In Shreve's smooth if unsurprising latest (after A Change in Altitude), EMT Peter Webster is drawn to a woman he rescues at the scene of a one-car drunk driving accident. Webster is well intentioned, but alcoholic Sheila, with her dangerous history, could prove beyond his efforts to save her, though the two embark on an affair that evolves into marriage and parenthood with the birth of their daughter, Rowan. Sheila's drinking, meanwhile, escalates until she causes another accident, this time with young Rowan in the car, causing Webster to send Sheila away to avoid jail time. Years later, with not a word from long-gone Sheila, Rowan is a typically turmoil-ridden high school senior moody, her grades slipping, drinking and her tribulations prompt Webster to reach out to Sheila to help his daughter. Webster and Sheila are more type than character good-hearted man, damaged woman incapable of love and the paramedic rescue scenes feel mostly like opportunities for Shreve to show off her research. Still, the story runs like a well-oiled machine and should sate the author's fans.