possibly my favorite of the series.
As the series winds to an end, the long-hinted at but unrevealed secret held by Eleanor Callaway, matron of the clan has been dancing at the edges of the story, hinted at but yet unspoken.
Olivia is fascinated with family, and the relationships that form the base of the Callaway family’s strength are intertwined in ways that make a Gordian knot jealous. Without the benefit of her own family relationships, Olivia’s determination to learn about the dynamics as she details lives for the biographies she writes are full of honest detail, no issue or secret stays covered for long. Eleanor has held a secret for years, but with age her health and mental capacity have started to fail, and Alzheimer’s is starting to rear its ugly head.
Colton Callaway is Ellie’s grandson, and is not at all happy with Olivia’s arrival. Fortunately, while his grandfather needs to leave Ellie for a bit, Colton is on leave from the fire department after an injury, and he is willing and able to step into the role of Ellie’s protector.
Olivia was wonderful: determined, caring and surprisingly good at coaxing Ellie’s memory back to task as she slowly reveals her life and the series of safe houses and transport that she and others offered to victims of domestic violence. Colt, on the other hand was a jerk. Gorgeous and a Callaway, I don’t think anyone ever challenged him or his authority in his life, until Olivia. He’s controlling and patronizing, and while he’s got an ‘idea’ of what Olivia’s writing style is, for some reason he thinks that her purpose is to expose and shame his grandmother.
Colt and Olivia are thrown together frequently, well, he actually dogs her footsteps like a puppy, but the time together allows him to see that even Olivia has secrets, and it forces him to actually look to his own life. Colt is controlling in every aspect of his life BUT his own reaction to what he believes are expectations of the family. He went into firefighting because it was the family ‘thing’ and he’s good at it for the same reason. But, his heart really isn’t in it, even though he’s not strong enough to step away to find his own purpose. So, he controls everything else that he can, with an iron fist.
I wasn’t completely on board with their romance, mostly because I never had that moment of redemption for Colt, that I felt he so desperately needed. Olivia’s own personal story is directly affected by the secret that Ellie and the ladies in her drama group have held for half a century, and the unraveling of that secret and the revelations that it brought for Olivia, and her handling of Colt and his overbearing yet insecure behaviors was cleverly drawn and portrayed.
What emerges is the sense that the Callaways were born to a family dedicated to protect: with both Ellie’s quest with her drama ladies and the family tradition of firefighting, they have chosen to help and protect those who don’t always have the ability to overcome tragic circumstances. A lovely revelation of Ellie with a solid character in Olivia and a romance that brings yet another Callaway into the growth they needed, this was possibly my favorite of the series.
I received an eBook copy of the title from the author via Novel Publicity for purpose of honest review for a blog event. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.