A Matter of Mercy
By Lynne Hugo
Publisher: Blank Slate Press
Publication date: 8/1/2014
My Rating: 4 Stars
Caroline Marcum thought she'd escaped the great mistake of her life by leaving Wellfleet harbor, but is forced to face it when she returns, reluctantly, to care for her dying mother. Ridley Neal put his past--and his prison term--behind him to return home to take over his father's oyster and clam beds. Casual acquaintances long ago, when a nor'easter hits the coast, Rid and Caroline's lives intersect again.
When Rid and two other sea farmers are sued by the wealthy owners of vacation homes who want to shut them down, and Caroline accidentally meets the person she most wronged, they each must learn to trust--and love.Inspired by an actual 1996 lawsuit, A Matter of Mercy is a riveting novel about treasuring the traditional way of life in the shallows of beautiful Cape Cod bay by discovering where forgiveness ends. And where it begins.
A special thank you to Blank Slate Press, AuthorBuzz, and NetGalley for an ARC, in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.
A heartwarming read, A MATTER OF MERCY is a story of loss, love, trust, forgiveness, redemption, and second chances.
An engaging and complex read about tough choices, and living with a past you wish you could change. Two lost and flawed souls, grieving from their own dark past, connect once again years later (on not so happy terms) in their home town. Each with their own demons and fighting furiously, to stay afloat in the present. Each have more in common than they may think, and share something which will bond them for life.
Inspired by the 1996 lawsuit depicted in the Cape Cod novel, Lynn Hugo, masterfully crafted the history, the people and places, the area, as well as aquaculture in Wellfleet, MA, with sensitivity, and detailed research.
The main character, Caroline (CiCi), has a past, she is guilt ridden, with no desire to return to her hometown of Wellfleet. Her mother Eleanor) is dying with cancer and she is called home from Chicago to spend her final days caring for her mom. Her mom, her mom’s friend Noelle and hospice nurse Elsie, want the best for Caroline, as she is alone in the world. She has no friends except her mom's friend and nurse, offering their support.
Ridley (Rid) also has a past, with a prison term behind him and returning home to take over his father’s oyster and clam beds. He does not trust easily and he is focused on carrying out his father’s legacy-and will not allow anything to get in the way.
However, Rid and two other sea farmers are being sued by wealthy owners of vacation homes who want to shut them down. In the meantime, CiCi and Rid connect briefly, as they knew one another from high school; however, not that close.
CiCi’s worst nightmare faces her, as the one person she never wanted to meet again (the one act she lives with daily, her mistake--the person she most wronged), the mother, Terry is here in this town working at the local library.
She withholds her identity to get close to Terry. As the suspense builds, they must learn to put the hurt behind, in order to move on and trust again.
As someone begins to try and run her out of town, terrorizing her, she is afraid for her life and yet she trusts no one. She has no way of knowing if it is about the land, her past, or the one person she is connected to.
A diamond in the rough, Ridley with his truck, his oysters, and a lab named Lizzie, will warm your heart, as his layers are peeled away. He and Caroline (you will sympathize with her), will need to face their fears, take some risks, put their past aside, and learn to forgive themselves and others, in order to experience love and happiness. (Some other mystery, suspense, and surprises, along the journey--no spoilers).
Loved the quote on Page 271: “Listen, I know you’re right, there’s some risk. But I have to take that chance if I’m going to live at all. I’ve been afraid to, because so much goes wrong all the time. But not living hurts, too. That’s the problem. You love, you hurt. You don’t love, you hurt. You trust, you forgive, and you get hurt. You don’t trust, you don’t forgive, guess what?”
“Which choices let you live the best, most decent life? Which gives you more chance at goodness? The way we live here is all about risk and love, isn’t it? That’s what sea farmers do. You don’t give up. This is my chance to not give up to have a little hope Terry and I can somehow move on to something better in our lives.”
A MATTER OF MERCY is a riveting novel about holding strong to history and family, and the land and seas of beautiful Cape Cod, as three people discover redemption and forgiveness.
Beautifully written, this is my first book by Lynn Hugo and look forward to reading more from this talented author!
Fans of Carla Buckley, T. Greenwood, Mary Alice Monroe or Karen White, will enjoy reading this rich and intimate look of more than sea and the land, the love of family and community, and the lives of those who protect and nurture—those they treasure and hold close.