Amabel lives all alone, in the back of beyond, running the bed-and-breakfast in her home, while her mother is away in Canada (how exotic, hm?). Dr. Oliver Fforde and his mother stop in for the night on their travels, and Amabel is smitten. But nothing could possibly come of it–he’s a London doctor, and she’s a nobody from out in the weeds.
I really didn’t have a lot of hope for this story, right up front–the initial descriptions were just a little too pat and formulaic. But a few chapters in, when Amabel gets a letter from her mother, announcing her upcoming remarriage, things get interesting, since Dr. Fforde chooses that particular day to show back up for a visit!
The plot takes another twist, when Mum and the new husband get home, and Amabel doesn’t like him one bit! After he threatens to harm her pets, she flees, taking them with her, and the rest of the book follows her back and forth around the country, one step ahead of homelessness, whilst Oliver just keeps popping up and being useful.
But Oliver didn’t even really have a good grip on how much he cared for her, until one weekend he went to his great-aunt’s home, where Amabel was then working sitting with the elderly woman, to discover she thought he was going to marry a wealthy socialite who had been by to speak to the Lady Haleford. Oliver thought her sudden shift in demeanor very strange, and had to get to the bottom of it!
By the time he got it all sorted out, Amabel had gone home to tend to her mother, who was apparently ill…or was she? Oliver drove out to her old home, where it all began, and swept her away, declaring his love, and asking her to come to London to be his bride.
Okay, okay…I glossed over a few parts. Amabel stayed in several homes and inns in her travels, including that of her Great-Aunt Thisbie, near York, where she briefly found employment in the curio shop of a woman who was a friend of the conniving wealthy socialite who had her hooks in Oliver. Confused yet? Yeah, I thought so.
This book contains no steamy love scenes–just kisses, and it’s not even suggested that our hero and heroine go to bed together during the course of this story. Yet, somehow, the story just works. We’re entertained wondering what sort of mischief Amabel will get into next, and how the good doctor will swoop in and save the day yet again, and if either of them will ever get the hint that they belong together.
Dr. Fforde comes off a little bit one-dimensional to me–the busy doctor, who can’t quite see what’s right in front of his nose for most of the book, is just a little bit pat. But Amabel is richly described, and her internal discussions are complete enough to make her jump right off the page, to be that girl-next-door that no one can quite figure out. The supporting cast, particularly the two elderly aunts, provide wonderful ballasts for the wildness of the plot.
If you’re looking for steamy, sweaty-bedsheets makeouts, you’ve picked up the wrong book, friend. But if you’d like a sweet love story, with an interesting plot, Always and Forever is a good read for you.