Coming Home for Christmas (Haven Point)
No one can understand the torment of postpartum depression unless they go through it. Unfortunately, Elizabeth Hamilton suffered this, first brought on by the loss of her beloved parents, and increasing after giving birth to her second child. Her world had become smaller, and she believed she would hurt her son, Bridger. In order to save him, her daughter Cassie and her husband Luke, the ones she loves, she thinks her best option is to leave them, thinking they would be better off without her. She flees on a cold winter night while her husband receives the brunt of nasty gossip purporting that he killed his wife.
Seven years pass, and Luke learns he is going to be charged with Elizabeth's death. He knows he is innocent, but he cannot face the possibility of losing his children if arrested. They are his life, and he still grieves over Elizabeth's disappearance.
Luke's sister Meagan is engaged to Elliot Bailey, an agent for the FBI who manages to track down Elizabeth in a small coastal Oregon town. Luke is torn, but now, several months later, knowing the district attorney will call him in for questioning, drives to Oregon to bring her back to prove she is not dead and to show he had no complicity in her departure. He is shocked when he arrives. This is not his spouse; she does not look the same. Also, she is going by the name Sonia Davis.
"It burned him, knowing he hadn't recognized his own wife. When he looked closer now, knowing what he did, he could see more hints of the woman he had loved. The brows were the same, arched and delicate, and her lips were still full and lush, but her face was more narrow, her nose completely different and her cheekbones higher and more defined.
"Why had she undergone so much plastic surgery? It was one more mystery amid dozens."
He doesn't know whether to be relieved she is alive or furious for her leaving and not letting him know of her whereabouts. Was their marriage awful? His anger ignites, and he insists she return to Haven Point, Idaho. Her friends who live in her apartment house are concerned about her going with this stranger. She never disclosed anything about her past, so naturall, they are leery, but she appeases them, saying she'll be back soon and tell them everything.
Luke hopes to make the long journey back before the end of the day, but they are forced to stop for the night when a blizzard strikes. Elizabeth doesn't disclose anything as his countenance prevents her from talking to him. She senses his tension and distaste toward her, which breaks her heart for she is still in love with him. She only hopes he will offer her the chance to be with their children, but he adamantly refuses, saying she gave up that right when she abandoned them.
Heartbroken, she realizes she was wrong to leave, but she wanted to protect her family, and in her mind, she was doing the right thing. But she understands her priority is to assist Luke in his current predicament. If only she had done things differently.
Luke takes Elizabeth to the district attorney to show she is alive and well, though he notices she not only looks different, she appears to be somewhat weaker. The D.A. does not believe she is who she claims to be due to her new countenance, so Elizabeth offers to take a DNA test to prove it. All she wants to do is mend the pain she's caused her husband and clear him.
When Luke hears what happened to her, his heart aches for all she has endured, and he sees at her differently. He understands how hard she is trying to make amends, which softens him up somewhat, and he allows her to meet their kids. Meanwhile, these are his thoughts:
"Luke had grieved for his wife for many long years, thinking she much had died of she would have come back to him and the children. When he found out she was living a different life away from him, that grief had shifted to hurt, betrayal, fury. It had clouded his judgment. . . .
. . . "He had been so furious that day. Not that day. For months, since finding out she was still alive. He was tired of it, so very weary of the constant grinding pain in his chest.
"What had she endured? It sounded like sheet hell, physically and emotionally, having to relearn everything. He hated knowing she had been alone during that time, facing all that pain and uncertainty without the support of her loving family. He and the children could have helped her through.
"He cringed to think of his own rigidity, his unwillingness to list to her explanations."
Cassie, at age ten, becomes belligerent, refusing to accept Elizabeth as her mom, but Bridger, now seven, is somewhat enthusiastic and wants to learn more about her. Elizabeth decides to join Luke and the kids at local festivities to show her old friends, neighbors, and the townspeople she is truly alive.
Elizabeth wonders if she will ever be forgiven and once again be a part of her family's life. She's trod a tough road, fought a courageous battle, and time will tell if she can regain her old life. She loves her husband and children, but will Luke find it in his heart to allow her back into their lives?
Book #10 in the Haven Point series is a heart-rending tale of a woman's limitless love for her family as she tried to protect them from her inner demons. Filled with selflessness and compassion, this holiday novel delves into complex subject matter with finesse and empathy and can be enjoyed year-round.