Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86378-5
Contemporary Romance, 2014
Falling into Forever is the second book in the Wintersage Wedding series, but it can stand alone. There are recurring characters as well as the couple from the previous book Eve of Passion making appearances here and there, but they don’t bring too much baggage from the previous book along with them.
Also, don’t let the synopsis of the back cover scare you off. The whole thing seems like a dreadfully contrived episode of ex-lovers who broke up because they all wanted to be more noble than the other person, but the actual story is better than that. Sandra Woolcott and Isaiah Jacobs were an item ten years ago, but Isaiah broke things off when he realized that he wouldn’t be joining Sandra in getting fine degrees in design and conquering the world together. He would be headed to the Naval Academy instead, and he didn’t want Sandra to change her plans or make compromises on his behalf.
That was then. Now, he is back in Wintersage to care for his father, while she has her own business here, which she runs along with her two best friends from way back. Sandra is a fashion designer with an eye for expanding her client base. Both have family issues. Isaiah’s father has prostate cancer, but caring for the man also causes Isaiah’s conflicted feelings about his personal dream of becoming an artist versus his parents’ expectations to come back up again. This time, he wants to be able to pursue his dream for real. Sandra knows that she is a successful designer, and a good one at that, but her parents see her as a failure so long as she remains unmarried. And you know how it can be when it comes to parents – she can’t help feeling hurt whenever her parents bring that “failure” of hers up, even if she knows that she should be used to it by now. Falling in love all over again would be either another complication of the heart or the best way to overcome those parent-inflicted bruises. What is it going to be?
Falling into Forever is a simple story that can still deliver a few hard knocks along with the humor and romance. I know Phyllis Bourne can write a fine romantic comedy on a good day, and I’m pleasantly surprised by how she can add some heart-tugging moments here too. A big part of why the story works is the main characters having well-written nuanced aspects that make them feel like real people with strengths and weaknesses that I can relate to. Sandra and Isaiah don’t dwell too much on their past, as both understand how parents can really make a muck of one’s personal plans, and there are no one-dimensional fixation on trust issues. There are no unrealistic “I’ve been hurt ten years ago so now I will never trust another person of the opposite sex ever again!” drama, just two people who wonder how to make the best out of this opportunity to be in love again without creating more mess in the process. The issues here are real, and the characters’ reactions to their personal drama are real too.
In a story like this, with Isaiah wanting to off to be an artist while Sandra wants to stay put in town, someone has to compromise. One person in this story ends up letting go of all the plans made earlier, but the author makes it clear that this letting go isn’t some kind of noble sacrifice. The way the author treats the whole thing, it’s like how your dream sometimes change as you grow older, and you may think you still want something you dreamed of a while back, and sometimes it takes a bit longer than usual to realize that what you really want is something that you already have in front of you. It’s all corny and cheesy, of course, but the author really makes it work here.
Falling into Forever is a really nice read, all things considered. It has that perfect blend and balance of romance, comedy, and emotional drama, and I can’t be any happier.