Title: Madness on Martha's Vineyard
Author: Shirley Hailstock
Jennie Olsen fell in love with a man of letters - actual letters. Alex Christensen exchanged mail with her while in high school and college. Then, without explanation, he abruptly stopped writing. Years later when Jennie comes face-to-face with him on Martha’s Vineyard, he shows no sign of recognition.
Vowing to steer clear of the devastatingly handsome stranger proves fruitless. Constantly thrown together on the small island, Jennie works hard to discover the truth of their past and why she seems to have disappeared from his memory. But the truth comes with consequences. Can she live with what she knows?
It couldn’t be him, Jennie thought as she watched through the curtained door window. It couldn’t be Alexander Christensen. She wasn’t sure. Jennie had never seen him in person, but she’d memorized the features of the photo he sent her in one of his letters years ago.
This man was older, but so was she. She’d changed from the time they wrote letters to each other. Her hair was shorter and colored red back then, dyed because it was the fashion. Today she wore her true color, dark brown bordering on black. She frowned at the memory of the photo she’d sent him.
But was that him? She couldn’t be sure. The curtain obscured her vision, and she hadn’t looked at the photo in years. Jennie put her hand on the glass knob, but before she opened the door, she did know what she would say. He’d abruptly stopped writing to her. It started as a project when she was in high school. They continued until she was in college, then nothing. Her letters were returned unopened. Even when she tried to find him through the post office box, she discovered it wasn’t with the post office, but one of those services that holds your mail. And they used the right to privacy argument to deny her any information.
Eventually, Jennie gave up trying to contact him. But it bothered her that she may have written something that angered him so much he cut off any communications with her. What could that have been?
She turned the handle just as he rose and took his plate, glass, and utensils to the kitchen. Momentarily out of site, she waited, smiling at his manners. When he came back, she was going to speak to him. He had to be as surprised to see her as she was to discover the two of them were in the same place.
Jennie opened the French doors and slipped through them, waiting for him to finish thanking Blythe. He turned around and looked directly at her.
Taking a single step, he stopped when he realized she was standing there.
"Hello," he said. "You surprised me."
"That wasn’t my intention," she said, although it was. She smiled widely, knowing that in a second, he would connect her to the photo she’d sent him.
He stepped forward. "I’m Alexander Christensen. My friends call me–"
"Alex," she finished, making his name more a question than a statement.
He smiled. Jennie felt her insides melt.
"I guess that was easy," he said.
"Your friends call you Jennie?"
"Just as easy," she returned.
"Well, Jennie, it’s nice to meet you."
He didn’t know her, Jennie thought. Her shoulders dropped and she wanted to sit down but forced herself to remain standing. Even her name didn’t seem to register to him. They’d spent years writing to each other, then suddenly nothing. Her letters were returned as if he’d move without a forwarding address.
Amnesia came to mind, but she knew that was mainly a television thing and in real life it was rare.
"I suppose you’re here for the wine and cheese party," he said.
She nodded. "Blythe often invites several of the business owners to meet her guests."
Most of the businesses provided gifts, coupons, or tickets for the guests. Jennie’s shop offered a small basket of handmade scented soaps and a discount card that expired in a week.
"You live on the island," Alex stated.
"I have shops in town." She didn’t exactly say where town was, but Edgartown was the main embarkation port and there was an array of shops along the Main Street. Hers was one of them. While the tourists were her main customer base, she also had two local shops away from the crowded shoppers where her friends and neighbors came for her wares.
"Are you going to join us?" She turned slightly indicating the dining room door and the murmur of sound coming from there.
"Not tonight. I arrived today after a long journey. I hope to join another time."
Jennie nodded. "See you then."
She re-entered the dining room feeling as if she needed an escape. But escape from what? She didn’t know him, not really. And obviously, he didn’t know her. Could she be wrong? It had been years since she looked at that photo.
Jennie had been so angry when the fifth letter she wrote him came back with a return to sender stamp on it. Subsequently, the next ten did the same thing. Finally, she gave up, resorting to an even greater anger than the previous times. Flinging everything about him in a box, she swore to forget and go on. After all, they were only pen pals. Obviously, they weren’t the friends she thought they were.
And this man. Maybe he was someone totally different. Or maybe he was a relative. But in any case, he was unaware of who she was.
Why is your featured book a must-read to get you in the holiday mood?
It the story of a man who cannot remember a small section of his life and the woman who knows the details, but is torn between telling him and the effect it will have on her whatever her decision.
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon (US) gift card.
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US account to win.
Runs July 1 – 31
Drawing will be held on August 2.
Publisher’s Weekly Bestselling author Shirley Hailstock began her writing life as a lover of reading. She likes nothing better than to find a quiet corner where she can get lost in a book, explore new worlds and visit places she never expected to see. As an author, she can not only visit those places, but she can be the heroine of her own stories. The author of over forty novels and novellas, Shirley has received numerous awards, including the RWA/NYCLifetime Achievement Award and The Emma Merritt Award from Romance Writers of America. RT Bookclub Reviews awarded her a Career Achievement Award. Shirley's books have appeared on Blackboard, Essence Magazine and Library Journal bestseller lists. She is a past president of Romance Writers of America.
Social Media Links:
Website - http://www.shirleyhailstock.net
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/shirleyhailstockfan
Instagram – http://www.instagram.com/shirleyhailstock
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/shailstock