Always Emily
Grade : B+

I’ve always loved a nerdy protagonist. As a woman with random nerdy interests, I can appreciate a protagonist who is on the same page. Luckily, Emily Jordan is an archaeologist, reader, history buff musician who just so happens to be beautiful, passionate, and kind. That’s setting up the story for a win from my perspective. Taking place in a small town in Colorado, the setting screams romance and the American Dream. I really loved this book from just the description because I knew that Emily and I would get along; I’m a history, wannabe archaeologist, and music lover as well.

Emily Jordan is a 31 year old archaeologist with a penchant for adventure and travel. Salem is her best friend and long time love. Married young with two children, Salem never quit loving Emily, and after his wife died he gave Emily an ultimatum: Stay in town and be together or leave to go back to the field and never speak again. A year later, Emily is disenchanted with archaeology and her relationship with her playboy boyfriend, Jean-Marc, and returns to her hometown.

Salem and Emily encounter each other as Emily is sick with malaria and their friendship grows stronger (and their love is rekindled) as Emily become a surrogate mother for Salem’s daughter, who is going through a rough time at school. Salem is trying to protect his heart and his daughters because he doesn’t believe Emily is staying for good. Can Emily convince him she is here to stay and finally capture the love they’ve shared - but never seized - for almost 20 years?

I really, really enjoyed this book. The plot was golden and exciting with well developed characters-even at the secondary level. Emily is a spunky protagonist who is simply a thirty-something just trying to face her demons in her home town after her career becomes less enjoyable. Salem is a great hero because he is noble and classy. He cares about his daughters more than anything and just wants to protect them from the same heartbreak he has experienced in the past at Emily’s flighty personality. Salem has a deep love and respect for history as well as his Native American heritage. While Emily is flighty, Salem is controlled and rigid but seeks to let go and become freer.

The friendship between Emily and Salem really carried the book; their romantic tension - backed by an exciting story line - made me want to see the plot through. Sullivan does a good job here interweaving a nice romantic story in with some really solid plot development, specifically involving Salem’s oldest daughter Aiyana. Aiyana’s story revolves heavily around the cyber-bully culture that is more than prevalent in the younger generation. For this plot point, I tip my hat to Sullivan; she made it relevant and real, especially when those things aren’t talked about as much as they should be in literature. Emily’s personal problems with Jean-Marc attempting to ruin her reputation really drive the story as well. For awhile I was concerned this was just dropped in the middle of the novel, but there is a satisfying conclusion to this. A surprising plot twist around the end of the novel drives home the story and solidifies that wonderful, growing relationship between Emily and Salem.

  My only criticism of the book is it brings forth a lot of different plot lines that all intersect at various parts of the story. They’re concluded by the end of the book, but around the end, two different heavy story lines are going on at the same time and it drags a little bit. The subject matter is a little heavy for a romance novel, it’s not particularly light-hearted. Sullivan does a good job at making you care about all the characters in her novel (and also feeling other appropriate, hateful feelings); however, the social commentary in the novel is heavier than what you’d expect. From police brutality to cyber-bullying, Sullivan discusses these as they impact the characters of the novel. Despite the back-and-forth and struggle around the end of the book, Sullivan dots every i and crosses every t.

Emily and Salem are precious together and their ultimate coming together is so exciting but a little abrupt in some ways. All in all I think the book was very well written and though it was very plot heavy I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for more than a simplistic romantic story and is looking for a story to get invest in and characters to enjoy.

Reviewed by Allie Jackson
Grade : B+
Book Type: Series Romance

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : May 13, 2014

Publication Date: 2014/05

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