When a sassy blonde tsunami of a woman returns to the hometown in which she is estranged from, she finds her way to an old, rundown, lakeside piece of property she remembers from her yesteryear. After just being fired from her job, she’s looking for her grandfather in the hopes he can provide comfort and monetary support while she pieces her life together. But, a car accident strands her with the caretaker of the lodge, Cliff Forrester. Aggressive, reclusive, and battling anxieties you cannot possibly imagine, Liza Barron begins trampling all over his existence. They make each other angry, get on each other’s nerves, and banter back and forth like the remnants of an old married couple.
They are each other’s whirlwinds, but little do they know they are about to brave one themselves.
When Liza sets her mind to refurbishing the lakefront property, not only is there blowback from Cliff Forrester, but there are familial mysteries dug up from the past. Estranged from her family, a body that surfaces at the corner of the lake near the water lines opens wounded doors Liza never imagined trekking through with her family, and Cliff Forrester gets a true glimpse into the world of the woman who left the small city of Tyler in a hurry and never looked back.
The characters are well-rounded and infuriating. You can feel Cliff Forrester’s pain that has plagued his past, and the anger he feels towards Liza’s intrusion, in the beginning, is nothing short of stifling. You get upset with his constant state of anger, and you become enraged at Liza’s blunt-force trauma while the two of them verbally batter one another to see who can be set off first.
It is only carefully crafted characters that can lurch forth the type of emotion you experience while you watch the two of them knock each other down, pick each other back up, and cling to one another as the two of them set off to find answers they have sought all their lives.
Mysterious noises within the rickety old house keep Cliff Forrester up and night and familial tensions and woes keep Liza confined to the bedroom she has chosen. Strange sounds bring the close, adventure brings them closer, and their constant bombardment of one another slowly cracks their cemented walls. Slowly but surely, they peel the hardened layers of each other back, and the nerve that is left exposed to the elements slowly begins to bind the two of them together in an unlikely romance that will make even the hardest of hearts cock their heads and sigh.
However, many secrets lie within the Barron family many of which Liza does not even know. The controversial death of her father led to her mother becoming closed off and emotionally cold, but the body that has been dug up by the lakeside threatens to do the same thing to the grandfather Liza had always related to her entire life. Questions swirl within Liza’s mind: why has her grandfather disappeared? Why is her mother’s strong facade slowly breaking down?
What happened to her grandmother when she disappeared?
While this book encompasses well-written characters, they do get visceral. The inner monologs of both Liza and Cliff are raw and filled with the most honest of emotions, and there are moments where you question Cliff’s true mental state and his stance on how he treats women. If men being honest about what they wish they could do to women makes you queasy, this might not be the book for you.
The finding of the body also never comes to a close. The book is, first and foremost, a love story surrounding Liza Barron and Cliff Forrester. The body is found, it weaves an undertone of tension, and then you will go for a few chapters before the body is mentioned again. Liza and Cliff’s budding relationship, however rocky it may seem, stays at the forefront the entire time with the finding of the body being an afterthought. If you are wondering whether the book is more mystery or romance, it leans more towards the latter.
That and the book never explains who the dead body is. There is a tension-filled scene when the body is discovered, there are emotions running rampant in both Liza’s mother and grandfather that cause their characters to break down, but the book never resolves that aspect of the story. We are never told who the body belongs to, why the body is there, or why Liza’s mother and grandfather are having such visceral reactions to its finding.
All in all, Whirlwind by Nancy Martin is an unfinished tale. The love story comes to a pique where love is proclaimed, but no resolution comes to this side-story of a dead body being found on the property. It never mentions who it is, what the repercussions of finding that body are, or whether it will delay the plans to refurbish the rickety home Liza Barron and Cliff Forrester is peppering their sensual essences around. This book would have been a wonderful book had it not been for the unresolved dead-body plot.