Title : Forever Promised
Author : Amy Lane
Series: Keeping Promise Rock, Book 4
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary
Length : 350 pages (e-book)
Published : June 28, 2013
Crick has been home from Iraq for five years, Jeff and Collin are finally married, and Shane and Mikhail are quietly making lives better for the dispossessed teenagers who come their way. Everything is right in Deacon’s world, but nothing ever stays the same.
When Deacon’s best friends, Jon and Amy, answer the call of an opportunity in Washington, DC, Deacon figures that’s life. You love people, and they leave you, and you survive. Even Benny, Crick’s little sister, is close to grown and ready to start her own future. But Benny loves Deacon, and she owes him—she may move beyond The Pulpit and Levee Oaks one day, but not without leaving something of herself behind. And so she offers Deacon and Crick an amazing gift… and a terrifying decision.
Benny’s offer forces Deacon and Crick to dredge up every past mistake and offer of redemption. And not just the two of them—everybody is forced to examine the chances they’ve been given and the promises they’ve made. In a real family, a child is a promise, and to the men and women of Promise Rock, keeping that promise will change their lives forever.
“Hope could do glorious things if you let it — and if you gave it a big hand and some painfully crafted faith.”
Forever Promised is the final instalment in the Promises series. While there are definitely some obstacles for the clan of Promise Rock to overcome, this is overwhelmingly a positive book and a wonderfully fitting farewell to a much loved series. Told from multiple points of view, it really allowed the reader the chance to say goodbye to characters that have come to feel like friends. Set two and a half years after the events of Living Promises, it starts off from the POV of Crick’s sister, Benny. No longer the lonely and somewhat lost teenager we were first introduced to, Benny is now a young woman with a growing family of her own and a good head on her shoulders. I loved getting to see inside Benny’s head and to not only get to know her better, but also the other characters through her. And that goes for each of the other characters as the story progresses. This first chapter was a really good way of recapping the events of previous books with a bonus of learning some new things from the early days of Crick. It felt more like a trip down memory lane than an info dump. I love the growth in this book. They may all be grown up, in steady relationships and marriages and over most of the hardships of their past, but life has a funny way of moving forward and changing and the people living them have to continue to change and grow with it.
“God, would you stop reading my mind? It’s irritating!” Crick’s laugh was evil. “Nope! Won’t. Refuse to. I’ve earned it…”
I want to be careful not to give too much away and spoil it for anyone yet to read it, so this review will mainly be my thoughts and feelings on the characters and the writing. For most of my reading buddies, it’ll come as no surprise that Amy Lane is one of my favourite authors. I really enjoy her writing style and her ability to create believable, relatable and fully realised characters to flesh out her world with. This book is no exception. I really love the dialogue. It’s unforced and heartfelt. It reads like you’re listening to real people speak. Then there’s the characters themselves. As usual, Amy Lanes’ characters are layered and human, filled with strengths and flaws. And very easy to relate to, even on just a basic level of shared humanity. The interactions between the characters are so natural. Love them! Humour, pain, joy, hope, fear, worry, love. All those things that make up our thoughts and interactions are just so beautifully expressed with believable and realistic dialogue and actions. And humour! So much humour. Slightly horrifying sometimes, but humorous nonetheless! The scene at Parry’s soccer game had me in stitches.
“Deacon could suffer any number of losses, any number of people leaving and coming, any shifts of time and family and friends, as long as Crick would stay. Crick loved him. It was always enough.”
While I genuinely adore all of them, I have to admit I adore Deacon and Crick that little bit more. This story may allow them all their moments to shine, as it should, but it still revolves around the heart and soul of the family they have made for themselves. Deacon is still the leader of The Pulpit’s extended family. He’s still kind, compassionate, moody and uncommunicative at times. Still vulnerable in some ways and incredibly strong in others. Still worries, still loves Crick with his whole being and still cares about his people and his home more than anything in the world. “It’s like God made you that way,” Jon said slowly now, “so you could stay here and make this place better, because no one else could have.” Crick is still funny and stubborn. He’s still taking care of everyone, making sure they’re happy and well fed. Like Crick tells Deacon, “We’re both a little broken and both a lot fixed”. I really do love these two, broken bits and all.
“Breath after heartbeat, summer, fall, winter, spring — and it all came back to this, this place, this moment. It came to beginnings and endings, of promises you made and promises you kept and promises that got broken in spite of your best intentions. It came to fixing what shattered, making do with what wouldn’t fix, and building again and hoping, hoping for this moment, when everything was a shiny and perfect as a baby’s first cry.”
This book is as much about beginnings as it is about goodbyes. Jon and Amy may be preparing to move away, and that obviously brings its own changes, but they aren’t the only things about to change around The Pulpit. Because Benny and Drew are also ready to start the next stage of their life together. Deacon was there for her when she needed someone to step up and save her the most and she feels that it’s now time to pay that kindness back. With the initially reluctant blessing from her boyfriend, she offers Deacon and Crick the ultimate gift she can give them. A child of their own to bestow all that endless love and nurturing they have on. At first Deacon refuses. He doesn’t want to put Benny through the strain of pregnancy for a child she’ll be handing over to Crick and Deacon. The scene where Benny explains to Deacon why it’s so important for her to do this, apart from just the fact that she knows Deacon and Crick want it so badly, was one of my favourite scenes in the whole book. It was so heartfelt, painfully vulnerable, yet so full of love.
So why didn’t I give this book five stars? I’m hesitant to even mention it because I do not want anyone to decide not to read the book because there was one thing I personally got annoyed with. It involves a minor character, but one that I had come to care about. I know that bad things happen and life can be cruel, but this almost bordered on too much. I had to put the book down for a short while because I was that angry about it. Even with the sad stuff that happened in this book, up until then it felt real but hopeful. Necessary and believable. This just felt like a mean slap in the face. In my opinion, there was a less extreme option that could have been taken. However, it was one chapter. And now that I’ve finished the book, does it still make me irritated? A little. Does it bother me enough to take away from the rest of this truly wonderful book? Not even close.
It was lovely to catch up with old friends, get to know some a little better as we got to see inside their heads and maybe even make a new one or two. I loved the little reminiscent glimpses into the characters’ pasts that were superbly woven in with the plot of what was happening in the present as they prepared for changes. I kept finding myself smiling while reading the book. Smiling, laughing, tearing up (both happy and tinged with the occasional sadness – mostly when I remembered I’d be having to say goodbye to these wonderful people at the end), cheering, hoping and wishing. The characters just feel so real. Their trials and tribulations, their actions and reactions all just feel so real. Apart from that one chapter, I loved everything about this book. And really, one chapter out of twenty five is a pretty good batting average! As hard as it is to say goodbye to The Pulpit, Promise House and the gang at Levee Oaks, to let them get on with the business of their lives (yes, I do know they aren’t actually real, but they feel real to me), there’s always hope that we’ll get the occasional glimpse of them. Right? And it’s the right time to let them get on with it. They’re all in good places. They’re not miraculously all fixed, because some things do irrevocably damage you, but they have a handle on their weaknesses, they’ve more or less come to acknowledge their strengths and they love and are loved. So, goodbye Deacon and Crick, Benny, Parry Angel and Drew, Jon and Amy, Shane and Mikhail, Kimmy, Martin, Collin and Jeff. Hope we’ll still get to visit with you at the odd Christmas here and there.
“That’s what this place is. It’s a promise that there will be more memories. It’s a promise that love will live on.”
Rated 4.5 stars by Booksmitten