Title: Undaunted Love
Author: Ramona Flightner
Publisher: Grizzly Damsel Publishing
Release Date: June 2015
Length: 457 pages
Series?: Banished Saga #3
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
In spirit by the death of her daughter and by disillusionment with her marriage, Savannah Montgomery must find the strength to rediscover her sense of self-worth. Living in a mansion in Boston’s Back Bay, surrounded by maids, she’s learned wealth alone will not bring happiness. Submerged in a deep depression, a chance encounter brings friendship into her life. Will her friend’s faith in her embolden her to embrace a newly envisioned future?
By his actions in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War, Jeremy McLeod believes he will continue to battle the darkness alone. Returning home to Boston’s North End, wounded in body and spirit, he consigns himself to a solitary life. Working in his brother’s workshop brings much needed solace, but will it be enough?
To forging a life with her husband Gabriel, in Montana, Clarissa McLeod is determined to fulfill her role as wife. When actions from her past continue to haunt her present and threaten her future, will Clarissa trust in her husband’s love and surmount her deepest fears?
Undaunted Love follows the McLeod, Sullivan, and Russell families as they struggle against injustice, persevere against loss and betrayal, and learn that the strongest bonds are the ones forged by loyalty and love.
***** Review *****
Savannah’s life is a complete shambles in Boston. After the loss of her daughter, and realizing the truth about her husband and marriage, it’s all she can do to survive day-to-day. After learning news that rocks her to her core, she has no one else to turn to except Gabriel’s brother Richard, who married Clarissa’s friend Florence. The younger McLeod brother, Jeremy, has returned from his stint in the Philippines with the Army, and is the driving force behind helping Savannah discover what she needs. Jeremy, however, is battling his own inner demons and refuses to open up and begin coping with those demons from the war.
Meanwhile in Montana, Clarissa is struggling to fulfill her role in her marriage to Gabe. She is also haunted by something from her past that creates such anxiety she can’t even tell Gabe. All of their friends see the strain and try to be as helpful and encouraging as they can, but it is a long hard road made even rougher with Clarissa’s delusional stalker still in town pestering her at every turn.
There are no characters who are left in the wings in this installment in the series. Each character plays a pivotal role, and there are many more that I’m only going to list by either Boston or Montana that I discuss in the Second Thoughts section below.
The Main Characters:
- Clarissa (Sullivan) McLeod – proponent for the woman’s vote and rights, former teacher, married to Gabriel, sister of Colin, works at a book depository
- Gabriel McLeod – oldest brother, a cabinetmaker, married to Clarissa
- Savannah (Russell) Montgomery – Clarissa’s cousin and friend, recently married to socialite Jonas Montgomery, married for social standing
Secondary Characters – Boston:
- Jonas Montgomery – a wealthy New Yorker, Savannah’s husband
- Martin and Matilda Russell – Savannah’s parents, uncle and aunt to Clarissa, own and operate a linen store, Matilda is sister to Betsy and Clarissa’s deceased mother (Agnes)
- Richard McLeod – the middle McLeod brother, a blacksmith, married to Florence
- Florence McLeod – an orphan, taught school with Clarissa, married to Richard
- Jeremy McLeod – the youngest McLeod brother, former ARMY serviceman, recently returned
- Rebecca (Smythe) Sullivan – married Clarissa and Colin’s father
- Melinda Sullivan – Rebecca’s daughter, half-sister to Clarissa and Colin
- Aidan McLeod – uncle to the McLeod brothers, smart and wealthy businessman
- Delia Maidstone – headmistress at the orphanage where Florence grew up
Secondary Characters – Montana:
- Cameron Wright – former suitor for Clarissa’s hand, remains in Montana taunting her and Gabe
- Colin – a blacksmith, Clarissa’s brother
- Amelia Egan – widowed wife with two children, friend to Gabe and Clarissa, takes care of Aidan’s house
- Sebastian Carling – works at the mill as foreman, friends with Gabe and Clarissa
I have followed Clarissa, Savannah and the McLeods from the very first book, and I have loved and hated characters with varying degrees of intensity. After reading the synopsis I wasn’t sure how all of those things were going to pull together cohesively.
I had nothing to worry about. Ramona Flightner thought of everything and ties all of the plot lines together flawlessly. This was a novel that I as a reader could not take charge of and “drive.” I had to take a back seat and let her writing take me where it would. The book is much longer than I had anticipated, woven together with wonderful characters.
I liked that at the very beginning there is a listing of characters and a bit about each of them. It helped me for a few of the more obscure characters whom I hated but still played semi-important roles. It is also helpful because even the minor characters from previous books play major secondary roles in this third installment.
This is historical fiction, with dashes of romance, and the societal constructs and classes are very evident, even pillars of Boston society.
The novel is split between Savannah’s life in Boston and Clarissa’s life in Montana. The novel is told from Clarissa’s POV as first-person, but in the segments from Boston they are third-person POV from Savannah. This technique was used in segments rather than alternating chapters, and it worked beautifully to move the plot along in both of the girls’ respective worlds. My only complaint was I was never ready for the switch; I wanted to keep reading about whichever girl the focus had been on because it was getting really good!
The book is chock-full of interesting events for both Savannah in Boston and Clarissa in Montana. It definitely kept me turning pages, wondering what was going to happen next, and I hated when it would shift between the two girls because I wanted to know what happened right away.
I really, really want to talk about the plot because it was absolutely amazing, but I would give away serious spoilers, so this is kind of brief. This is such an incredible story that wraps up some loose ends and opens doorways for other things to happen down the road in the series.
At one point, the storyline crosses over and brings Clarissa and Colin to Boston, so there is a family reunion of sorts, and I was proud of Clarissa for standing strong in the face of her adversaries.
Savannah’s character grows stronger and stronger, and seeing her blossom into a strong, resourceful woman was wonderful to see.
Jonas and Cameron are up to their usual tricks, although they both pull two incredible shockers that create tidal waves in their wake. There came a time when I thought there would be some sweet justice for one of them, but again Flightner threw a wrench in those plans. Sort of.
The book made me cry. A lot. At various parts. Some because it was so incredibly painful for the characters, and some because they were such tender and sweet moments.
All of the secondary characters come to play very important and larger roles in this third installment, and I can see a spin-off happening for some of them, or just the series widening out to include them as this one did to include Savannah’s story.
***** About the Author *****
Ramona Flightner is a native of Missoula, Montana. After graduating from Tufts University with a B.A. in Spanish, she earned a Masters degree in Spanish Literature from the University of Montana. Her Master’s thesis, Chilean Testimonial Literature: the collective suffering of a people, highlighted her continued interest in the stories of those who were at risk of being forgotten or silenced.
She studied nursing at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a Master’s in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner. She has worked for ten years as a family nurse practitioner providing care to the poor and under insured at two community health centers, first in Wilmington, Delaware and now in Boston, Massachusetts.
An avid reader, she began writing three years ago. She enjoys the demands of research and relishes the small discoveries that give historical detail to her books.
Ramona is an avid flyfisher and hiker who enjoys nothing better than spending a day on a remote Montana river, far from a city. She enjoys research, travel, storytelling, learning about new cultures and discovering new ways of looking at the world. Though she resides in Boston, Massachusetts, Ramona remains a Montanan at heart.
Her dreams are to see the plains of East Africa, marvel at the wonder of Petra in Jordan, soak in the seas of the South Pacific, and to continue to spend as much time as possible with her family.
Banished Love is her first novel and is the first in the forthcoming Banished Saga.