Christmas is approaching and single forty-two-year-old Christine McGuire, a real estate agent in Arizona, is feeling lonely. Christine is still grieving the sudden death of her mother, Dorothy, who died eight months ago in a car accident. Growing up, Christine was very close to her mother, although Christine never really bonded with her father, Jake, an airline pilot with a gruff personality who was “on the road” working during most of Christine’s childhood.
Christine loathes the idea of spending Christmas alone, so she decides to pick up the telephone and call her father, who lives in California in the childhood home where she created so many memories with her mother. When Christine informs her father that she is flying out to spend Christmas with him, Jake McGuire is startled and even manages to hang up on his daughter. Gathering his senses, he calls Christine back and agrees to pick her up at the airport.
What transpires is a difficult visit by Christine with her father over the Christmas holiday. Jake is clearly grieving the death of his wife, and while Christine feels similarly, father and daughter are not close and therefore unable to share memories and console each other. If anything, Jake is standoffish, and Christine is sensitive to her father’s retorts and actions. Christine cannot help but notice that her father is a mere shadow of the man he used to be – yes, he is grieving, but is there something else bothering him?
One of Dorothy’s fond memories was of spending time at a local park upon which a lighthouse is located. When Jake learns that the city intends to demolish the lighthouse, Jake takes action by cutting a deal with the city. Jake uses his retirement savings to purchase the land and the lighthouse, agreeing to restore it and bring it up to city code on a strict timetable outlined by the city. Frankly, Christine thinks that her father has lost it with this odd project, and she cannot fathom why he is draining his savings to take this on.
However, Jake is steadfast about restoring the lighthouse and his reasoning is sound, in a way. He wants to redeem himself with his dear departed wife by preserving and restoring the lighthouse that she loved. While Jake cannot turn back the hands of time and become a better husband, he can make things right, in his mind, by doing something special that would have made Dorothy proud of him. What begins as an absurd project in Christine’s eyes ends up transforming the relationship between father and daughter, as well as enabling both Jake and Christine to make peace with themselves and their grief over Dorothy’s death.
The Lighthouse is an engrossing read that delves into the serious topics of death, grieving, love and family relationships. While the tone of this novel is a bit heavier than other Harlequin NEXT novels that I have read to date, the author does a good job of portraying the relationship between Christine and Jake, as well as their grief over the loss of Dorothy. Neither Christine nor Jake are perfect, and their imperfections make them believable, likeable characters who grow on the reader throughout the story.