Now and Then Friends

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Now and Then Friends

A Hartley-by-the-Sea Novel, #2

After reading “The Rainy Day Sisters” I knew the Hartley-by-the-Sea series was definitely one to watch for. So, when I saw this second book was up for review, I snapped it up pronto, and I am happy to report, it is just as good as the first book, maybe even a little better.

Rachel and Claire were best friends in elementary school, but as they grew older, Claire, who came from an affluent home, more or less shunned Rachel in favor of the popular girls in class. Hurt, but having her pride, Rachel refused to confront Claire, and so for twenty years the girls never spoke to one another, until Claire returns home to Hartley-by-the-Sea after a break up with her fiancé and a short stint in rehab, needing some time to herself to figure out what path to follow for here on out.

Rachel’s life is hard, very hard, and she is more than a little bitter, having to drop out of college and return home after her father walked out on her invalid mother and two younger sisters. Rachel cleans homes for a living, including the home, Claire’s parent own. Which is how the two girls come face to face with one another after all these years.

Wow, what a terrific story! There are several strong life lessons in this story, and I confess I felt a little stung due to my own guilt, since I’ve made some of the same mistakes Rachel did a few times in my life.

I’ve also presumed I was carrying the load all alone, the only one with a crappy life, the only one making sacrifices, so absorbed in my own misery, I failed to see others were suffering as well.

Claire is a character who, when compared with Rachel’s hardships, really didn’t have a huge cross to bear, but she was at a crossroads in her life, and I admired her ability to admit her flaws and work to better herself, although I worried she lacked the courage of her convictions at times.

This well balanced, emotional drama touches on class differences, family loyalties and responsibilities, love and friendship. Although Rachel and Claire couldn’t have come from more diverse backgrounds, they shared a common bond that proved to be unbreakable. The long held resentment between the women fall away as they lift one another up, cheer each other on, listen to one another’s problems, and learn acceptance and forgiveness can heal old wounds and strengthen the foundation that is already in place.

I loved Claire’s optimism, despite her self-doubt and insecurities. She has allowed people to make choices for her long enough, and it is so liberating to see her standing on her own two feet, finally.

But, Claire is not the only one who makes great strides, as Rachel learns to absorb some of Claire’s enthusiasm, accept help, listen to advice, and let go of her anger and stubborn pride, in order to look at her future in a more positive light.

There is a little romance sprinkled in which really enhances the storyline, and while I did like Andrew and felt his presence was very instrumental in moving the story along, it was Claire’s patience and forbearance with Dan that really captured my heart.

This is one of those stories where the characters and their story lingers in my mind long after I finished the last sentence. Like, with Juliet and Lucy, I hope we will hear from Claire and Rachel again in the very near future.

Overall, this is a fantastic, feel good story about forgiveness, personal growth, hope, love, and the unshakable bonds of friendship.

Book Blurb for Now and Then Friends

The USA Today bestselling author of Rainy Day Sisters returns to Hartley-by-the-Sea...

Childhood best friends Rachel Campbell and Claire West have not only grown up, but after fifteen years, they've also grown apart...

After her father left, Rachel had to dedicate her life to managing her household: her two younger sisters, her disabled mother, and her three-year-old nephew. When Rachel’s not struggling to look after all of them, she makes her living cleaning the houses of wealthy families—inclulding the Wests, where a surprise now awaits her. . . .

A lifetime of drifting in other people's currents has finally left Claire high and dry. First it was her parents, then the popular crowd in school, and finally her fiancé. Now she’s returned to Hartley-by-the-Sea to recover. But running into Rachel brings back memories of past mistakes, and Claire wonders if she now has the courage to make them right.

Soon Claire’s brother, Andrew, asks Rachel to keep an eye on Claire, which is the last thing either woman wants. But as their lives threaten to fall apart, both Claire and Rachel begin to realize what they need most is a friend. The kind of friend they once were to each other, and perhaps can be again. . . .

Night Owl Reviews Jul, 2016 4.50