Can't Stop Believing
If some books can be judged by the numbers of tissues readers use to read them, this would be a multi-box story. There’s more poignant, bittersweet, thoughtful commentary on life and death here than in any other romance I’ve read in quite some time.
When he was a teen, Cord McDowell reacted while drunk and spent the next six years of his life paying for assaulting a peace officer. For the past three years out of prison, he’s worked as a mechanic in Harmony, Texas, and has run his family’s farm, having lost his parents while he was incarcerated.
His closest neighbor, wild, crazy Nevada Britain, whose ranch borders his farm, has just divorced husband number three, abusive Bryce Galloway. Because of her family’s wealth and her brothers’ wild ways, Nevada has been scorned by most of the people in town almost as much as Cord, who’s rumored to be dangerous.
When she approaches Cord asking for a favor, he’s at first reluctant to hear her out, but when he learns she’s willing to deed him three hundred acres adjacent to his farm if he will marry her for eight months while he lives and works on the ranch, he has only one counter provision: she must sleep in his bed every night.
Only a writer as talented as Jodi Thomas could make a match like Cord and Nevada’s not only work but make it believable enough that readers will root for them.
Meanwhile, Thomas adds another impossible couple that will bring readers to their knees: postal worker Ronny Logan and the rich man who ran out on her and is now dying. Mentally abused Ronny found solace in Marty Winslow while they lived together in Harmony. Now Marty is dying and wants to move back to Harmony to be with Ronny at the end of his life. Marty, his nurses, his male companion, his hospital bed, and his health machines move into the ratty duplex he and Ronny once shared.
Through the two couples, Thomas examines what love is and how people express their love to others. Her often beautiful turn of phrase and eloquent writing impart truths we spend lifetimes gleaning for ourselves.
Cord and Ronny are people who have hidden from life while Nevada and Marty have bitten off huge chunks and tried to relish every last bite. Therefore, readers will see themselves as well as people they know in the wonderful lead characters.
Equally recognizable and enjoyable are the peripheral characters, from the expansive inn owner Martha Q and the quiet, self-effacing butler-ish Mr. Careleon to the obsessed former husband Bryce and Nevada’s loyal ranch hands.
But as I said at the beginning, be warned—this is a tissue box full of sorrow and happiness. It’s the best of the series so far, and I hope a harbinger of even better books to come from Thomas.