Title: Someone to Love
Author: Donna Alward
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: March 2017
Length: 320 pages
Series?: Darling, VT #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Some wishes do come true…
Ethan Gallagher is a firefighter in Darling, Vermont, who followed tradition and pledged his love on the Kissing Bridge to ensure lifelong happiness. A few years later, he s a widower with two rambunctious boys who no longer believes in magic. But even he has to admit that free-spirited Willow Dunaway fills him with wonder and an attraction he cannot deny.
Willow s come back to Darling a different girl than the one who left after high school. Overcoming her past and owning her own business has made her into a strong, independent woman. Single dad Ethan appeals to her in a way she didn t expect, even though settling down is the last thing on her mind. But after fire destroys the local food bank, the town rallies, and a fling between Ethan and Willow leads to unintended consequences. Can they find a way out of their heartbreak to make a home in each other s hearts?
Darling, Vermont is known for their famous Kissing Bridge. Local legend says that a kiss on the bridge brings everlasting love.
Ethan Gallagher doesn’t think so. He kissed his bride on the Kissing Bridge and she died, leaving him to raise two young boys on his own. The loss is obvious, and the entire family pitches in to care for the boys due to Ethan’s firefighting schedule. He loves his boys, but not much else.
When his boys meet Willow by accident. Ethan is as surly to Willow as the Beast, and again when Ethan’s sister invites her to dinner with the Gallagher family. Ethan’s attitude and words cut like a knife, despite the cheerful smile and kind responses Willow tries to give. Willow left Darling and came back a very different person. She has had to work hard each and every day to love herself. She is putting her happiness into her business and being a good community member. When Ethan’s sister begs Willow to watch Ethan’s boys for a few hours, Willow is more than happy to accommodate…only to land in hot water with Ethan!
Willow – owner of The Purple Pig; does yoga and eats crazy healthy; practices mindful self-care
Ethan – a firefighter and recent widow; struggles to raise his two little boys
Hannah – runs the local realty office near The Purple Pig; Ethan’s sister and Willow’s close friend
Connor and Ronan – Ethan’s sons; Ronan remembers everything
“I didn’t really peg you as the tattoo type,” he said, nodding at her arm.
Her stomach twisted into a knot. Her ink was rather personal, thought its meaning was well known. “I only have the one,” she remarked, keeping her voice light. “Though I’ve thought about getting another.”
“A semicolon in a flower. That seems kind of a weird choice, don’t you think?” He gave a little chuckle. “Did you study English or something?”
He didn’t know. She wasn’t sure why she was surprised. Not everyone understood the meaning behind the semicolon, she supposed. Did she want to explain? And if she did, did she want it to be here, sitting at her business, with the chatter of other customers around?
The Highs and Lows
Warning: This post contains heavy subject matter not for the faint of heart.
- The Subject Matter. There are two heavy subjects that come up in the book. The first is in relation to the quote I picked out for the book to share above. A semicolon is a very well-known mark, and has now become a stamp forever as a reminder and as hope for many people who battle depression or other mental health issues. If you want to find out more about what the semicolon means, there is an entire project dedicated to it. I encourage you to read about it here. The second heavy subject revolves around a woman’s right to choose for herself and her body, which is somehow a controversial topic in what is supposed to be such a progressive time.
- Willow. She has suffered quite a bit. She is not the girl she left behind, and every day she focuses on being happy and harmonious. She happily is the face of healthy eating in Darling, and she takes care of her people. She goes out of her way to be courteous and nice to others, because she knows what it is like to live a lie to the outside world. Willow is a very flawed character, with a background of darkness. Now in Darling, she is a ray of sunshine to many, but Willow’s past keeps her grounded and keeps her going. As a result, she tries to be as open and honest as possible.
- Ethan. He is a surly old bear! I could understand his frustration with the universe, but he chose to take it out on Willow in about 84758475 ways. It is difficult to be in a hard situation and be faced with someone who has everything you want: happiness, real and pure and true. The character growth he experienced from purposefully making fun of Willow’s hard work to practice self-love and care to wanting to get to know her, seeing how he sons come to like and enjoy Willow slowly brings Ethan out of his shell. However, Ethan is not one to mince his words…but he also lacks tact and the forethought to think before he speaks, which drives a wedge between Willow and him. I also like this realization from Ethan:
He blinked back tears, wondering at the odd sensation of grieving for his actual grief. Because the absence of heartbreak had to mean he was moving on. It was a sad, complicated feeling.
- Willow’s Choice. Willow and Ethan slowly grow close to one another, neither wanting to admit what they have. But life takes its natural course, and all of the reason behind Willow’s semicolon tattoo forces her to make a different choice at this point in her life – not the choice she made before. Not the choice Ethan wants her to make. Willow chooses not to allow someone else to force her into making a choice she does not want, so she chooses her own path. When an innocent bicycle collision happens in front of her store, it propels Willow into an entire situation she and Ethan are not prepared to handle. On the flip side, as Ethan points out to Willow, she has also robbed him of his right to choice in the matter. It is a fine and delicate line, and in the end, Willow made the best decision for herself. She kept Ethan in mind, but also gave him the choice to walk away.
- The Ending. The ending wasn’t as satisfying as I was hoping it the last little hill of build-up lead me to believe in. It was alright, but I was building up higher hopes in my mind, I suppose. Willow is such a strong, inspirational character that I wanted the world for her.
This book brought a lot of personal stuff to the plate that most romances don’t. It explored two topics I still consider taboo in our country, and they were both approached with beauty and grace, just like Willow. I think both of these issues – and the outcomes – are very representative and speak volumes to women in our country today.
While bestselling author Donna Alward was busy studying Austen, Eliot and Shakespeare, she was also losing herself in the breathtaking stories created by romance novelists like LaVyrle Spencer, Judith McNaught, and Nora Roberts. Several years after completing her degree she decided to write a romance of her own and it was true love! Five years and ten manuscripts later she sold her first book and launched a new career. While her heartwarming stories of love, hope, and homecoming have been translated into several languages, hit bestseller lists and won awards, her very favorite thing is when she hears from happy readers!
Donna lives on Canada’s east coast with her family which includes a husband, a couple of kids, a senior dog and two crazy cats. When she’s not writing she enjoys reading (of course!), knitting, gardening, cooking…and is a Masterpiece Theater addict.