Reviewed by Tori
Erin Donahue’s life seemed perfect until one moment changed everything and she left her old life behind. Eight years later, she has established herself in the small town of Destiny, IL. She’s alone but happy-until a face from the past shows up and demands she not only face her past…but finally deal with.
Slade Callahan always loved Erin but she belonged to his older brother so he tucked that love away deep into his heart and never let on how he felt. When she left his brother, she left him too and he never forgave her for that so he moved on and eventually let her go.
When Slade’s brother is found dead and in his possession are two letters-one to his wife and one to Erin-Slade takes it upon himself to track her down and deliver the letter. And perhaps get some needed answers to what happened so long ago.
As secrets are shared and lies revealed and Slade and Erin finally acknowledge the attraction that has always existed between them, Erin will have to decide if she willing to take a chance again on love with another Callihan brother.
And Never Let Her Go is the first in a standalone small town romance contemporary series by Nancy Glynn. Unrequited love is always an enjoyable trope, especially when it is held by a relative or best friend of the couple. The guilt and angst the hero or heroine feels loving someone they feel they shouldn’t is an emotional journey that allows the reader an intimate view of their suffering as they are friend zoned due to circumstances. As the circumstances change- so does the boundaries of the romance-often resulting in the protagonist finally getting their hearts desire.
This particular story is extremely layered though Glynn is subtle in her development of the first half with second half containing the answers we are expecting. The general premise-two boys love one girl but something made her leave them and now one has the chance to discover why -seems pretty straightforward but the real story is buried in the secrets, lies, and emotional discourse that Glynn reveals in a steady and realistic manner. Well crafted with strong narrative, Glynn builds the story, using dual points of views along with some secondary characters, to draw out the conflict with a few surprise twists and turns. The fact that everything rests on a letter from the grace so to speak amps up the suspense and anticipation.
Erin Donahue loved Todd Callihan but something she discovered made her leave him on the eve of their engagement. Something she blamed herself for and her punishment was to let him go. Now an established photographer with friends and a settled home life, Erin has somewhat forgiven herself and moved on with her life. Especially after she discovered he had moved on and married someone else. I liked Erin in that she is strong, intelligent, and took responsibility for choices she made at the time. Though there was some self-pity, Erin works to rise above it, not letting it define her as a person or a woman. Once her full story is revealed, you understand exactly what she did-and why.
Slade Callihan also left me feeling a little battered and bruised. Especially after his entire story is told. It’s not easy loving someone else’s significant other but the fact they are with your sibling makes it even harder. Strong, stoic, gorgeous, and loyal, Slade did what was best for him and his family, never letting on the extent of his feelings for Erin. A bad marriage and time spent in war only serves to remind Slade that life isn’t always fair and we aren’t always guaranteed a happy ending.
Slade and Erin’s reunion is a combustible mixture of anger, pain, love, grief, guilt, and eventually forgiveness. Glynn uses the past and present to reestablish their friendship and plant the seeds of a second chance at love. A robust romance forms-one that was already in the making a long time ago though neither realized. Emotions erupt and over boil, creating a vacuum effect that doesn’t subside until the couple is able to fully lance their wounds and move forward. Something that requires examining, accepting, and forgiving the choices that have been made by themselves and others.
I liked the story overall. It had a good pace and set up, an entertaining storyline, a steamy romance, and jam packed with subplots and characters. A little too jam packed. I felt Glynn used the large cast of secondary characters and various subplots to ease her way through the story rather than trusting her protagonists. I was also overwhelmed at times by the narrative. I felt I was talked through everything. My biggest complaint though is the fact that Glynn choose to villainize Todd (and his wife Wendy to a certain extent) in order to create the drama that pushes Slade and Erin towards their HEA while giving them the excuse to let go of any lingering feelings of guilt.
Regardless of my issues, Glynn’s And Never Let Her Go is an emotional second chance love story that will appeal to readers who enjoy watching strong abet guilt ridden men and women find their way to forgiveness and love.