Mel is living the life of the modern family/career woman. She’s a publicist for Lorimar Insurance Company, married with two and four year old daughters. Everyone sees her as the perfect executive and mother, but Mel is tired and overwhelmed by the stress of keeping all of the balls in the air, and guilt at the possibility of letting any of those balls fall. She spends her days struggling to fill the demands of her career, keep up the house, and still have time with her daughters and husband. Lorimar doesn’t believe in family coming first, they want 110% from each employee; Mel’s daughters want their mother to spend more time with them. She loves her job and her family, but increasingly feels that she can’t have both and that each are suffering because of the other.
Daisy and Alex have been together since they met at college, he the friendly, popular member of the rowing team, and she a shy, gentle-spirited fashion student. For fourteen years they’ve been living out the modern relationship of commitment without marriage. Both have fulfilling careers; Alex is in banking, and Daisy is part-owner and the buyer for a local boutique. From the fashionably modern apartment in the right part of town to glamorous business trips, they appear to be the couple with everything. Daisy wants more, though. She dreams of marriage, which Alex feels they have no need for. She also longs for a child. For five years they’ve been trying for a baby, and Daisy is ready to find out why they haven’t conceived, but Alex is resistant to meeting with the fertility doctor. Their dreams and plans for the future aren’t lining up, and Daisy fears for the relationship she’s built her world upon.
Cleo was born and raised in the hotel business. For thirty years her parents have owned and operated the Willow Hotel in Carrickwell. She’s always dreamed of running the family business, and now, fresh out of hotel management school, she’s ready to step in and take over. Her family has other plans, though. Business has declined, and they have neither the money nor the interest to implement any of Cleo’s ideas to revitalize the hotel. Her two older brothers feel she’s too hot-headed and stubborn to see reality, and she feels they still view and treat her as a child, and are only interested in the profit they’d turn if the hotel was sold. As her relationship with her family declines, so does the business, and Cleo faces losing them both.
Mel, Daisy, and Cleo each find their way to Cloud’s Hill, and Leah. Having learned some hard and painful lessons in her past, Leah helps the women find the peace and courage they need to decide what they really want and need in their lives.
ALWAYS AND FOREVER is wonderfully emotional and insightful story about life’s ups and downs. Readers will feel a connection to the characters who struggle with the same issues many of us do in real life – family v. career, commitment, the decline of the family business, and the difficulty of having it all. The story hooks you from the first pages, and keeps captivating through the end. An excellent book, I look forward to reading Ms. Kelly’s previous titles, all of which have been number one bestsellers in the U.K.