Her Hopes and Dreams (Ardent Springs #4)
Montlake / November 15, 2016 / $12.95 print, $4.99 digital
A love for strong heroines is a frequent refrain in discussions of romance fiction, but strength can be measured in many ways. In Terri Osburn’s Her Hopes and Dreams, Carrie Farmer, who has been a cheating wife with husband #1 and a battered wife with husband #2, defies the odds to become an admirable heroine, one who can stand up for herself, fight for those she loves, and reach out to help those who are where she has been find a place of sanctuary.
Carrie has been a widow for a year when the story opens. She has a job she likes, a young daughter she adores, friends who care about her, and real purpose in her commitment to seeing a women’s shelter in Ardent Springs, Tennessee. She takes pride in her home, a single-wide trailer on a patch of land she bought with the life insurance of Patch Farmer, the husband who could have killed her. Carrie is not unaware of the irony of that purchase nor of the irony that she escaped from her abuser through the help extended by the woman now married to Spencer Boyd, Carrie’s ex-husband (Her First and Last, Ardent Springs #1). Despite all the good things in Carrie’s life, she is not free of her past. She says to her friend Lorelei Boyd, “Even after a year, Patch is like this specter that hovers in the shadows, waiting to pounce. I know he’s gone, but the fear was so real for so long.”
Carrie and Noah Winchester are neighbors who meet in a storm of complaints and insults. Noah’s late night sessions restoring a motorcycle are keeping Carrie’s baby awake, and Noah just resents having a neighbor. After four tours of duty in Afghanistan in five years, he craves solitude: “Noah had moved out here for peace and quiet. Something he desperately needed after how he’s spent the last few years. War zones were never quiet. And neither were his thoughts.”
He makes no effort to be tactful, especially when he realizes Carrie is the “married chick” who hooked up with his friend Patch. Within a few minutes of their first neighborly meeting, Noah expresses surprise that Patch married her, questions the paternity of her daughter, and suggests that she was unfaithful to Patch.
Carrie is angered by Noah’s comments, but she reminds herself that she will no longer be bullied. She remembers the bad times and the feeling that enduring Patch’s abuse was “penance for her sins or karma serving up justice for all her mistakes,” and she remembers her dreams of running away from him. But she is no longer a passive figure, wishing for salvation. Now she is actively involved in saving other women who need to escape their abusers.
But there had been no salvation waiting on the horizon, and though Carrie no longer had to fear a wayward backhand, other women were still suffering. Women who had no one to count on and nowhere to run. That’s why she couldn’t wait for the Safe Haven Women’s Shelter to open its doors.
It is that gift for empathy that Noah awakens when he has a PTSD episode in front of Carrie. It causes her to see him differently. She sees him as a “kindred spirit.” Noah is not initially receptive to her attempts to help him, but when the attraction that simmered underneath the hostilities ignites, he sees Carrie as his “magic pill” who has dispelled the nightmares. However, neither lust nor love proves powerful enough to cure Noah of his PTSD. In fact, his love for Carrie is a prime factor in his most terrifying episode. But when Noah pulls away, convinced Carrie is better off without him, she refuses to give up.
That’s what the old Carrie would have done. . . . To hell with that. This man was the love of her life, and if they were going to spend the rest of their lives together, then she’d have to learn how to fight. Learn how to work things through and come out the other side stronger than before.
Even then, when Noah remains stubborn, Carrie does not give up. With a little encouragement from the woman who wants to be her mother-in-law and a little help from almost-one-year-old Molly, Carrie earns her HEA—and she sees the Safe Haven Women’s Shelter open its doors too.
She is one strong woman and a redeemed heroine who wins the reader’s respect.
Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Her Hopes and Dreams by Terri Osburn, available November 15, 2016:
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Janga spent decades teaching literature and writing to groups ranging from twelve-year-olds to college students. She is currently a freelance writer, who sometimes writes about romance fiction, and an aspiring writer of contemporary romance, who sometimes thinks of writing an American historical romance. She can be found at her blog Just Janga and tweeting obscure bits about writers as @Janga724.