Finding Forgiveness (ARC review) – Feeling at home

Rare are the authors who can get me to read a book way into a series, one which continues from one book to the next, and make me feel right at home, as though I’d have be reading the series from the first book rather than reading the fifth book without having read the first four.

Yet, such is the strength of Christine Gael and Denise Grover Swank. So when Christine sent an email to her readers asking for reviewers for their latest Bluebird Bay novel, which came out this January, I did not hesitate for a moment before asking for an ARC copy.

And I don’t regret it one bit, for Finding Forgiveness made me feel right at home, despite my not having read any of the first books of the series (which I will remedy to at some point, if only because I honestly fell in love with Bluebird Bay, the Sullivan sisters, and their families). At no point did I feel lost, because Christine and Denise wrote their story in such a way that we would know the great lines of what happened beforeas we read on.

If that isn’t another mark of great authors, I don’t know what is.

What the book is about

For a rare time, I’m leaving you with the official blurb, because I couldn’t summarise it better:

Sasha’s secret is finally out…

And Gabe isn’t taking it well. With a baby on the way, they have to figure out how to make their marriage work, but after all the lies, the trust is gone. Can Gabe find it in his heart to forgive her, or will their brand new marriage crumble before it even gets off the ground?

Meanwhile, the Sullivan sisters are trying to pick up the pieces after Pop’s death. Stephanie passes off the veterinary clinic to her son, Todd, so she can grieve. Cee-cee tries to be strong, but she’s unraveling at the seams. And Anna? She just wants to run away and forget for awhile. But all bets are off when a stranger comes to Bluebird Bay and changes everything…

Relatable in so many ways

A close-knit family in a tight community, taking care of each other in the good times and the bad, sharing each other’s successes, failures, pains, joys. This is what I found in Bluebird Bay and with the Sullivan sisters, but also with their children and their respective partners.

For me, newbie of the series despite Finding Forgiveness being the fifth book, it was like finding friends that I would only love to hear more about. There was a homey feeling about the book which I usually don’t like since, let’s face it, there was no action to speak of, only those real-life moments of a family struggling with grief, of a man dealing with betrayal, of a woman dealing with her actions, of a surprising visitor and the consequences this visit would bring to all involved.

My verdict

It is this feeling of real-life and of knowing these people, who are going through moments that we go through in our own lives (life, death, betrayals of all kinds, work, etc.) which made me unable to stop reading, sharing their joys, pains, grief, and going through a vast range of emotions as I advanced into the story with laughter, smiles, tears, all the way until its very surprising conclusion, which makes me wait the next book (Finding Redemption, which comes out at the end of April) with anticipated pleasure.

It really takes great authors to succeed in making the reader feel like home when entering a series well under its way. This is Christine Gael and Denise Grover Swank for you, and the magic of Bluebird Bay.

A loving five stars! ✰✰✰

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