Betsy and Ty Franklin, owners of Franklin Dairy Farm in southern Alabama, have decided to put life’s disappointments behind them. At least in theory. Ty manages their herd of dairy cows, while Betsy busies herself with the farm’s day-to-day operations and tries to forget the longing for motherhood set deep in her heart. But when Betsy’s free-spirited younger sister Jenna drops her young daughters off at the farm to attend a two-week art retreat in Florida, Betsy’s carefully constructed wall of self-protection begins to crumble.
As those two weeks stretch much farther into the hot Alabama summer, Betsy and Ty learn to navigate the new additions in their world and revel in a home that’s suddenly filled with the sound of laughter and life. Meanwhile, record heat promises to usher in the most active hurricane season in decades.
Four hundred miles away, Jenna is fighting her own battles. She’d once been free to travel and pursue a career in photography, but all that changed with the appearance of two pink lines on a plastic stick and a boyfriend who hit the road. At Halcyon art retreat, she finally has the time and energy to focus on her photography. As the summer continues, she wonders how her rediscovered passion can fit in with the life she’s made back home with her two children.
When Hurricane Ingrid aims her steady eye at the Alabama coast, Jenna must make a decision that could affect both her and her children’s futures, and Betsy and Ty find themselves protecting their beloved farm as well as their own hearts.
Betsy Franklin seemingly has it all. She married her college sweetheart, the only man she has ever really loved, she is active in her church and social community, and she runs a variety of educational programs from she and her husband’s successful dairy farm. Yes, Betsy Franklin seemingly has it all.
In the plan for their life, Betsy and her husband, Ty saw a family, tiny humans to populate their inherited home, and grow up in the environs of the farm and community. Children would complete their plan, but it simply hasn’t happened, and the medical community has no explanation for the situation. Even with medical intervention, Betsy hasn’t gotten pregnant, and in the time since the last failure, she has tried to recover emotionally and move forward with her life. Ty is her rock and just when Betsy feels like she, they may be back on track, her somewhat irresponsible sister comes calling with a huge and emotionally charged favor.
Until the birth of her daughters, Jenna’s life was a mess with little to no direction. Since the birth of her daughters, Jenna’s life still has no direction and she spends her days slinging fancy drinks as a barista. Jenna loves her daughters, but beyond them, her life isn’t satisfying and if something doesn’t change, she’s in danger of falling back into bad behaviors. When an opportunity of a lifetime comes her way, a retreat to focus on her photography, she calls on her sister, Betsy to look after her girls for the duration of the retreat.
Jenna is and has always been oblivious to the problems and concerns of others. Though Betsy has tried, more than once, to tell Jenna of her fertility issues, Jenna hasn’t had time to listen and has no idea how hard it will be for Betsy and Ty to take in her girls. What’s more, when Jenna doesn’t get what she needs out of the first two weeks of the retreat, she extends the stay indefinitely in a voicemail to her sister.
With nothing to do but accept the situation and care for two, sweet girls, Betsy and Ty step up to plate and get ready for a full summer of family life. As the days and weeks stretch out before them, Betsy becomes ever more attached to the girls and does her best to deal with emotional turmoil their presence brings. What’s more, Betsy also must deal with the emotions bubbling up regarding her sister and her behavior. Betsy has long supported Jenna and free-spirited nature, but there are extenuating circumstances this time around that Jenna’s selfishness has blinded her to. Betsy wants to support her sister, help her finally find her way in the world, but it can’t be at the cost of her own emotional and mental health.
The Bottom Line: The is my second Lauren K. Denton book and, like the first, I couldn’t put this one down. While there is an actual hurricane to be dealt with in this book, the real hurricane is found in the emotions of the sisters, Betsy and Jenna. Told from alternate points of view, Betsy and Jenna’s the story unfolds over the course of Jenna’s retreat and Betsy’s summer. While Jenna is off trying to figure out her life, Betsy is, once again saddled with all the responsibility. Though Betsy gladly takes in Jenna’s girls, she does so at a high cost to herself and her marriage, and this makes her an immediately sympathetic character. Betsy and Ty are the absolute favorites in this read, and I found it hard to have any sympathy or even liking for Jenna. Even when Jenna understands Betsy’s situation, she continues on her own path which makes her even more unlikeable. In this way, Denton is extremely successful in her character development and her characters, for better and worse are one of the reasons I was so involved in this read. To be sure, this isn’t a happy read, but it is an emotionally charged book with so much underlying tension that you are begging for the storm, the actual storm, by the end of the read! This is what I adore about Denton’s writing! She draws you in with brilliantly crafted characters, a tremendously strong plot, and so much tension you just can’t stop reading. If you haven’t been introduced to Lauren K. Denton yet, what are you waiting for?