This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Montlake Romance
Released on January 21, 2014
Some authors have the gift to infuse so much into their stories that it’s so much more than just a romance story. This book told several people’s stories. All the stories blend into one big heartwarming story that was realistic and tough, but also hopeful and loving too. I wasn’t ready to be done when this book ended.
This is the third book in the Seasons of the Heart series. I wouldn’t recommend treating it as a standalone as it’s moderately connected to the one before it though the main story line is not a continuation.
The story opens when Kristen Hemmings the Asst. Principal for the elementary school contacts Law Beaumont and requests a meeting. Law is a recently divorced man with a notorious past as a recovering alcoholic and ex-con. His ex makes his life miserable and he tries to hold it together for the sake of his cherished daughter. He suspects the AP wants to speak with him about how the divorce is affecting Chloe at school. He’s worried about that, but there is a large part of him that is worked up by the attraction he feels toward the calm, cool and put together woman who has never looked at him like she believes any of the lies and gossip his ex-wife Libby spreads about him.
Kristen is taking a big chance calling Law to come up to the school, but she thinks her gamble is worth it if it will help Law, Chloe and the bitter and mistrustful new kid, Fin. Okay, so she’s strongly attracted to the man and wanted to attempt a connection with him after staring at him playing soccer in the park every week. Law doesn’t make it easy on her. She can see that he’s got that ‘I don’t care about anything’ attitude going, but she shocks him when she asks him to consider taking up coaching kid’s soccer again. She’s hoping to get Chloe playing again instead of hanging around with the shallow and popular mean girls that Libby pushes on her and she hopes to get foster kid and bad boy Fin involved in something that will get past his wall of mistrust. Law surprises her when he does it.
Unfortunately, this makes Libby escalate her persecution of Law and draw attention to Kristen. Libby’s behavior harms Chloe too because the kids at school give her a hard time about her scene-making parents. Chloe is all knotted up inside over the messy situation with her parents and all the pushing her mom does. Her dad never smiles though she knows he cares. She just wants a normal family. Law is pushed too far by Libby and finally fights back, but he is so overwhelmed and insists on accepting as little help as possible. He’s determined to pull back from everyone including Kristen because he knows he’s unworthy and fears their eventual rejection because of his mess of a life always interfering with anything good.
Fin is abrasive and standoffish, but deep down wants what other people have. He is envious of Chloe of having even one parent who cares. He is terrified to accept and feel because it could all be taken away so quickly. Chloe is his friend and he’ll do anything for her even if it means losing the first place where people cared and gave him a home.
The story is a romance between Kristen and Law, but it is also Chloe and Fin’s story too. The themes of substance abuse, divorce, estranged family, and unconditional love play a part as four people narrate this one. These make for weighty subject matter and sad things do happen in the story, but the tone allowed me to feel hope for these hurting people.
For the first time, Kristen’s past is exposed and this explains why she can be so very compassionate toward troubled kids and really understand Law. It also explains why she struggles with relationships especially the one she wants and is terrified of starting with Law. Yet, even though he rejected her, she didn’t play games or get pouty. Kristen continued being there for the children and gave Law another chance. She was the most engaging heroine I’ve read about in a long time.
Law’s past explains why he is so determined to get things right for Chloe even if he has blown his own chances. It was sad to see him so overwhelmed, but it was neat to see him really start to grow from there to reconnect with Kristen, Chloe, his brother and his friends along with getting a better perspective to deal with his ex-wife. Watching it all happen just made me fall in love with Law right along with Kristen.
The author did a wonderful job giving Chloe and Fin their own voices that told the story from their perspectives. I really felt like I was getting a child’s naive, confused and troubled view of what was going on around them. The powerlessness of both the children was tough to read about, but I loved that they had some adult champions in their lives. I should mention that Fin’s narration is mostly told through his experiences of being interviewed by his social worker to determine his permanent placement. It’s not confusing or difficult to follow; it’s just different.
So all in all, its not the sort of story that is light and fun, but it was so engaging and satisfying. I would recommend this for those who enjoy a challenging heartwarming romance that is way more than a romance when all’s said and done.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this one in exchange for my honest review thoughts.