November 20, 2012
A Forever Man
New Novel Questions Whether Love Can Really Be Forever
After reading Mary Flinn’s romance novel trilogy—The One, Second Time’s a Charm, and Three Gifts—I thought I had heard the last of her characters Kyle and Chelsea Davis—after all, a trilogy is three books. But Mary Flinn and her readers love these characters too much to say goodbye to them, and so they return in A Forever Man. (Note the “four” in “forever” to designate this fourth book in the series. I wonder what book five will have for a title, and even more, I hope it is forthcoming so I can watch Kyle and Chelsea’s boys having their own romances.)
A Forever Man begins several years after the close of Three Gifts, with Kyle and Chelsea’s twin sons, Stu and Ty, now eight year olds, and Kyle and Chelsea considering having another child, preferably a girl. This happy family seems to be living the perfect life until Faith—one of the partners in Kyle’s architectural and design firm—decides to retire and Frank and Kyle need to find a new designer.
Enter Elise, a twenty-seven year old single mom with a special needs daughter, an eye for design, and eyes the color of the river that flows by Kyle’s cabin, which Kyle notices immediately. Elise is soon hired and Kyle finds himself fighting his attraction toward her. Worse, it only takes Chelsea meeting Elise once to become worried that her husband might be interested in another woman. Kyle realizes his wife is concerned about the supposedly professional relationship, and he tries not to make her worry, but he can also see that Chelsea is developing a “runaway imagination.” But who can blame her when Kyle goes rushing off to help Elise whenever she has a problem?
Many complications ensue, including Elise dating Michael, a partner in Chelsea’s brother’s winery, whom Kyle intensely dislikes; Elise being run off the road by a mysterious black pickup; and a robbery. But amid these problems also surface happy moments, including a trip to Duck, where Kyle and Chelsea visit Kyle’s Aunt Stacie and her husband Tyson, who both offer the couple their individual advice on relationships with some surprising revelations.
I enjoyed revisiting all these old friends in this new book, including seeing Stacie and Tyson’s daughter Abigail, a baby at the end of Second Time’s a Charm now an active sixteen year old. And without giving too much away, my favorite villain from the first book also makes her return.
While Kyle and Chelsea are a predominantly happy couple, and Flinn is a romantic, she is also a realist who accurately depicts the difficulties of marriage. I found myself stunned by the perceptiveness of her treatment of a married couple’s relationship, trust issues, fears of infidelity, jealousies, and reassurances to one another. Extended family squabbles and parenting issues also arise that make these characters fully imagined and believable, right down to fears over their children’s safety and the maple seed that Elise, perhaps inappropriately, picks out of Kyle’s hair.
While Kyle and Chelsea seem to have a perfect life from Elise’s point of view, and consequently, Elise wants the same, their marriage is no fairy tale romance. A Forever Man shows just how difficult marriage can be and how powerful love is. This realistic, penetrating, complicated, and yet affirming depiction of married life could only come from a mature and perceptive novelist. A Forever Man is Mary Flinn’s finest novel to date.
For more information about A Forever Man and Mary Flinn’s other novels, visit www.TheOneNovel.com
— Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. and author of “Spirit of the North: a paranormal romance”
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