‘Forever Faithful’ by Isabella
Author: Anna Furtado
April 9, 2015
As Forever Faithful opens, we are plunged into the chaos of the life of military personnel and their families when orders come to ship out to a country where life will be filled with tension and danger. Although Colonel Nicole Caldwell thought she’d be staying in the states to do research after completing her degree, her commander has other plans—and ulterior motives. One minute, Nic and Claire are settling into their lives together; the next, Nic’s new orders separate her from that family. She’s eating desert sand and trying to keep from strangling her civilian partner as they try to gain information by traveling through the country to interview tribal leaders. Neither Nic nor their gunner, Sargent Cecelia Ramirez, like or trust this guy. Their misgivings prove to be true, and Nic wakes up with severe injuries in a military hospital bed in Germany. Upon realizing how badly hurt she is, Nic’s sure of only one thing: she doesn’t want to see Claire.
Back in California, Claire gets a visit from the base chaplain and nearly loses it. In the previous book in this series (Always Faithful), Claire had received just such a visit when her husband was killed while serving in the military in the Middle East. Déjà vu leaves Claire reeling, until she finds out that Nic is injured but still alive. Then, she struggles to pull herself together and make decisions about how to get to Nic to help her and, more importantly, how to not leave her alone in a foreign hospital with no one by her side.
The story of Nic and Claire is filled with passion and caring. The character of Nic, the military officer, who cannot allow herself to be seen as vulnerable, is a difficult one to experience. Claire’s struggle to try to help Nic is often heart-wrenching and complex. These characters are battling to let go of their notions of what their lives were once all about in order to be able to move into the next phase without being dragged down by the unexpected changes.
There are some editing issues in this story, but these do not overshadow the ability to feel the novel’s emotional pull. Haunting moments color the tale as Claire tries to be supportive to Nic while Nic tries to shut her out. It is not necessary to read the first book to enjoy the continuation of Nic and Claire’s story. Forever Faithful stands alone, with enough information given to understand the history that the main characters share, and to move into this new part of their lives without difficulty.
Isabella gives us strong characters—even in their weakness—and builds scenes with a strong sense of time and place. The grit of the desert gets between our teeth. We are uncomfortable witnessing Nic’s hospital struggles and Claire’s attempts to understand. We are continually pulled along in the story, aching for these women, hoping they will find a way to work through the difficulties that will allow them to pass into the next phase of their lives, and we hope against hope that they will be able to do it together.
Secondary characters—especially Claire’s long-time friend, Jordan—also fit into the plot well and help move the story along without becoming overbearing. Jordan interjects sassy humor into the story and serves to challenge the subplots of bigotry and homophobia that can sometimes color the lives of military personnel and their families, even in this post-“don’t-ask-don’t-tell” world.
Forever Faithful holds to its promise in giving us a story that is at times hard-edged and difficult, and at other points sweet and beautiful. The evolution that the two main characters are forced to experience because of the circumstances in which they find themselves makes for a compelling story, which will disappoint neither fans of the first book nor new readers alike.
Paperback, 97819390627581 , 266 pp.