An Everlasting Love
Bette Ford’s latest contemporary, An Everlasting Love, is an emotional read about a heroine with one huge obstacle to overcome and a hero who is patient enough to wait.
Brynne Armstrong had almost everything she wanted. She was on track to getting the degree she promised her deceased parents she would earn, and was dating the man of her dreams. A twist of fate ruined everything in one night. The man she loved, pro athlete Devin Prescott, proposed, but what should have been the happiest moment in her life turned sour when they argued over Brynne finishing school. She left Devin in a huff and from there her night went from bad to worse when she was date raped by a friend. The rapist threatened to ruin her and Devin’s life if she told, so instead she ran, harboring more than one secret.
Four years later Devin is at the top of his professional career when he runs into Brynne at a party. They dance, but before they get a chance to talk Brynne runs out on him again. He realizes quickly that he has never gotten over her and thinks he never will unless he gets answers as to why she left him after he proposed. Brynne knows that it’s time to quit hiding and face the facts of what happened that night – not for her or Devin’s sake, but because her daughter deserves a chance to know her father. Brynne is not sure who the biological father of her child is – the man who raped her or Devin. She agrees to meet with Devin in order to get him to agree to a paternity test.
After learning about the existence of a child Devin is furious. Brynne tries to explain to him what happened that night but he is too angry to let her finish. He assumes that Brynne cheated on him and never loved him, which is why she refused his proposal. But he takes the paternity test and learns that Brynne’s daughter Shanna is also Devin’s. They work out a visitation and arrange for Devin to meet his daughter for the first time.
The rest of the book is spent on the developing relationship between father and daughter, Brynne’s issues with being raped, and Devin’s love for Brynne even though he thinks she was unfaithful. Eventually she does get around to telling Devin the truth about what happened. How he deals with it was one of the most powerful scenes in the book.
After the rape is revealed to Devin, it becomes the book’s fourth character. Much time and detail is spent going over the event and how it had affected – and continues to affect – Brynne’s life. Devin must work through his anger about the rape, and Brynne seeks out a counselor so she can finally put it behind her. Brynne wants to heal so she can move on and Devin wants a shot at being a real family.
I applaud Ford for taking a chance and writing a book with such a controversial topic. But the rape itself made this a difficult read. Much of the book’s focus is that night, in full detail. Every time the rape is mentioned, I felt pulled out of the narrative flow of the story. I did like, however, how Ford dealt with Brynne’s character by having her go through the whole process with a counselor and that her intimacy issues are not glanced over but slowly worked through for most of the rest of the book.
There are pacing issues, though, resulting in an uneven read, and the balance of tone is somewhat off. Parts of the book are incredibly intense while other sections are so fluffy it was laughable. Additional editing might have made for a more even read. Also troublesome is how neatly the story wraps up, particularly given how far these characters had to go to be together.
Dealing with rape in a romance novel isn’t easy, and Ford did it with style. That she didn’t use it simply as a plot device is to her credit as well. The author created strong characters – it’s too bad the story she wrote around them is told with less skill. I had too many problems with An Everlasting Love to recommend it, but those looking for a not-so-traditional romance could do worse.