A Summer Affair
The historical romances of Susan Wiggs are new to this reviewer. The author uses a device common to several of her peers, of dropping a person from one book into another by association, a cameo appearance. It is absolutely essential that one like these characters for this to be effective. Luckily for Ms. Wiggs, it works. The temptation is to seek out the other books featuring the same people, naturally a bonus for the author. It can be annoying if the inside stories are too strongly played, a “ha-ha, you aren’t in the know”! This was not the case in A Summer Affair. The setting is San Francisco and the date can be placed between the end of the Civil War and the 1906 disasters by comparing the historical record with facts given in the book. No historical inaccuracies were perceived. The Barbary Coast, used to describe certain waterfront sections of the city, which in depravity resembled the pirate regions of North Africa, is a rich lode for a novel setting, and Ms. Wiggs mines most of it. Opium trade and addiction, lawlessness and corruption, racial tensions, and post-traumatic stress of Civil War veterans all serve as a backdrop to the dedicated, emotionally frozen doctor and the adventuress who needs him initially to dig a bullet out of her back.