Finding Our Forever
By Brenda Novak
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Reviewed by Janga
Young art teacher Cora Kelly is secure in the love of adoptive parents, but she nevertheless feels compelled to know something of her birth mother and her reasons for surrendering her child for adoption. A private detective discovers that Aiyana Turner, the owner and director of New Horizons Boys Ranch, a school and a sanctuary for troubled teen boys, is the woman for whom Cora is searching. When New Horizons needs an art teacher, Cora applies for the position and is hired. She views the one-year appointment as a fated opportunity to know her birth mother without either Aiyana or Cora’s adoptive parents knowing of the relationship.
Elijah Turner is the eldest of Aiyana’s five adopted sons and the only one who works at the school with his mother. Like his brothers, Elijah was one of New Horizons’ troubled students. His circumstances were especially horrific, and he is fiercely loyal to Aiyana whom he sees as both his savior and his mother. Elijah loves his mother and his brothers, but he believes that his past has left him incapable of establishing a lasting romantic bond with a woman. His inability to be open and emotionally generous has ended every romantic relationship he has attempted.
The chemistry between Cora and Elijah is off the charts from their first meeting, but they both have good reasons, personal and professional, to avoid a relationship. When the attraction proves stronger than their resolution, they agree on a sex-without-commitment relationship. But, predictably, given that this is a romance, the relationship quickly progresses from sizzling physical encounters to emotional intimacy. Through Elijah, Cora is drawn into close, near-familial ties with the Turner family. But everything she learns about her mother raises more questions that leave Cora hungry for answers. As she battles guilt over the big secret, Elijah finds that Cora’s acceptance of him and her willingness to allow him his boundaries are eroding the defenses that made him believe he was destined to be alone. But secrets have a way of being inconveniently revealed, and there are more secrets than either Cora or Elijah suspects.
Finding Our Forever introduces a new series from Brenda Novak. This one is set in Silver Springs, California, but the characters whose stories have unexpected twists and a strong emotional punch are not new. These are vintage Novak qualities that not only made her Whiskey Creek books popular with romance readers but also keep her Dundee, Idaho series a fan favorite a decade after they were written. I don’t always like the choices Novak’s characters make, but I am always invested in her characters. The disappointment and even anger they sometimes evoke is just another measure of how real Novak makes them seem. Cora’s relationships with Elijah, Aiyana, and the other Turners is based on dishonesty. On the other hand, her choice to keep her secret is a very human one.
If you like the rich, contextual relationships found in the books of Robyn Carr and RaeAnne Thayne but also appreciate romances that are riskier and steamier than books by those authors, the Silver Springs series may be exactly what you are looking for. Finding Our Forever will allow you to start at the beginning. Three more Silver Springs books—No One But You, Until You Loved Me, and Right Where We Belong—will be released later this year.
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