Summary from BN.com: Lucas Vermontez was a proud firefighter like his father. Now, not only has he lost his father and his best friend, Zach, in the fire at the Grove Street homeless shelter, but the devoted rookie can no longer do the work he loves after being crippled in the tragic event. When friendship with his buddy’s beautiful widow turns into more, he wonders, what could he possibly offer Jenna? Jenna Morgan is trying to grieve her husband’s death like a proper widow, but the truth is, she never really loved Zach. His death feels more like a relief to her. But that relief is short-lived when she loses her home and the financial support of her in-laws. Now the secrets of her past threaten to destroy her future. Can the two forget the painful past and discover new reasons to live and love?
There's quite a few things to like about this book. Firefighters, dogs, romance, conniving in-laws. Ok maybe not so much the last thing, but the other three definitely play a big role in this book. Emotions, anger and tears are what's left of the tragic fire that took so many lives. In this book, we see two more lives that had been affected from that fire as they find new hope in each other.
I really liked Lucas and Jenna's relationship. First, let me say that I was thrilled to see a couple where the woman is older than the man. It's rare in a lot of fiction, Christian or general market, where this type of relationship exists not counting the extreme cougar type. Even though it's only a 2 year age difference and it doesn't get any mention except in the beginning, it's still great to just have it in there. Their relationship starts off a bit rocky because of the fire that caused all those deaths so close to them. Plus there's the fact that Lucas had a thing for Jenna while her husband was still alive. Still the two manage to let the chemistry between them grow. There are lots of ups and downs including a scene where Lucas calls out Jenna for her behavior. It's actually one of the more realistic relationships I've seen in a Christian romance lately.
I was very glad to see Jenna stand up for herself to her in-laws. I was also quite pleased at how quickly she did this. I was afraid that this was going to be a yo-yo effect throughout the book but once she made her final decision, she stuck to her guns. I'm even quite proud of her for getting a little snappish with Clarissa. Yeah yeah, I know the thing about turning the other cheek but honestly that woman was getting on my nerves. I don't condone violence at all so I'll just say she needed a bucket of ice water thrown in her face to get her back to reality. I hated the condescending way she treated Jenna. I understand that she lost her only son. But what good would it have done to treat Jenna the way she did? And her husband has no spine at all. We don't get to see Zach or any flashbacks about his character, but from Jenna's memories about him, I don't think that he was that great of a husband TBH.
Jenna's struggles with trying not to stay poor has to do a lot with pride issues in the beginning but then she eventually lets go and accepts her situation. Once she does this, she realizes that she's happy and lets go of the baggage. Unfortunately her relationship with Clarissa is never fully resolved though I suppose in real life it could be expected. Overall, I enjoyed this book, much better than the first in the series. I'm looking forward to see more from Hanover Falls in the future.
Forever After by Deborah Raney is published by Howard (2011)
This review copy was provided for a blog tour with Glass Road Public Relations
Other books in the Hanover Falls series that I've reviewed:
Forever After (Book 1)