Anywhere You Are
In Anywhere You Are, the third book in Ms. Barrett’s Return to Briarwood series, Marcus Colby and Grace Davingham meet, fall in love, fight dramatically, and then live happily ever after. Along the way, we spend time with Grace’s famous family, a group of environmentalists, a big floppy dog, and a few friends who can’t quite believe that Marcus might have found love. All in all, this is a lovely book for any contemporary romance lover.
British ex-pat Grace Davingham is the daughter of a world famous rocker and a supermodel and has been in the spotlight for most of her life. She used to be quite close to her family, but ever since they became the stars of their own reality show, she feels lost. Her family isn’t her family anymore, they’re a product. She’s constantly worried for her two brothers and how they’re reacting to the constant camera invasion, and her mother hasn’t stopped to think about anything other than how a moment is on or off brand in far too long.
An artist by trade and passion, Grace buys a rambling farmhouse outside of Briarwood, Connecticut and uses the barn for her studio. Detoxing herself from celebrity life, she finds solace in her garden, her land, and the peace that comes with not living life on camera. On a hike around her property one day, she sprains her ankle and would be trapped if not for a handsome stranger happening upon her.
Marcus Colby is an uptight real estate magnate who lives a private but busy life. On the same day he rescues Grace, he also finds out he’s inherited his aunt’s Great Dane, named Mr. Pipplepotts, and is now in charge of the galumphing animal. To say a giant dog doesn’t fit into his lifestyle is an understatement. Constantly jet-setting back and forth between India and various American locales for his development projects, Marcus resents being tied to Briarwood.
He eventually realizes the best solution is for Grace, who has quite attached herself to Mr. Pipplepotts, to be a dog sitter. She happily accepts, but renames the dog to “Big Blue”. The more Marcus travels, the more he returns home to Grace and Big Blue, the more he realizes that inheritance may be a more profound gift than he anticipated.
In the meantime, Grace is dealing with her own ideas of home. Interactions with her family are fraught with tension as her mother is constantly scheming to get her back on the reality show. Grace is desperate to make a living as a visual artist, but no gallery will show her work under the pseudonym she’s chosen. Her only cachet, they tell her, is her celebrity status. For Grace, showing her art through that status is a violation of her self-identity and she spends much of the book conflicted about it. And when she finally does sell a painting under that assumed name, it causes much drama within this town she’s chosen as home and with the man she’s in the process of choosing as well.
This book is about transformations and acceptance; can people really change and what would motivate them to do so. The author’s answer to the motivation question is honest conversations and love. There are various levels of conflicts in this story; between Marcus and Grace, between Marcus and himself, between Grace and her family, between Marcus, Grace, and the town; but every single one of them is tied up nicely in the end. While the effect of this is a lovely story with a complete happy ending, the speed at which some of the personal transformations occurred bordered on the saccharine.
I had no idea this book was part of a series until the epilogue, so do not fear the series tag on this one. The characters from the previous books are present as everyone dreams of the future they’re building together as a group of friends in this small New England town. Some of the small comments made by those characters did draw me to the idea of getting to know them better, so their stories got added to my TBR.
On the whole, this is a sweet story about two people who discover that meanings of family and home evolve over time, and that the people we invite into our lives shape those lives as much as we do. It involves a sweeping happily ever after – Marcus and Grace don’t just commit to each other, their entire lives are fixed – and a check-in on past beloved characters. With the added bonus of some environmental activism and a big floppy dog, Anywhere You Are is a lovely read.