Clare Wilson has given her husband numerous second chances over the years. She’s forgiven his many affairs in the hope that keeping her marriage intact is the best thing for their teenage son. But when she’s in a near-fatal car accident following a run-in with her husband and another woman, she decides that she’s had enough. Her brush with death convinces her to make a clean break from her philandering husband. Clare has a long road to recovery ahead of her—both in her personal life and her physical therapy—and she’s prepared for this. What she isn’t expecting is the cute police officer who witnessed her accident to keep checking up on her. Is he simply doing his duty, or do his calls mean something more? More importantly, is Clare ready for another relationship? Between finding a job to support herself, negotiating her divorce and trying to reconcile her son with his absentee father, Clare isn’t sure that she should be getting involved with another man right now…even if it is awfully difficult to avoid Officer Sam’s advances. When she is ready to date, will it be Sam she chooses, or someone from her past…perhaps the one who has haunted her all these years?
I didn’t used to read a lot of contemporary romances, but I decided to pick up one of Robyn Carr’s Virgin River novels a couple of years ago and she got me hooked—both on her writing, and contemporary love stories. Never Too Late is a little different from the novels Robyn’s fans may be used to, and the writing style makes it clear that this is one of her earlier books (the 2015 reissue being almost ten years old). Nevertheless, it contains some of the elements that Robyn’s fans are fond of—small towns, strong bonds between family members, sizzling romance, and plenty of second chances.
Clare’s story is one that a lot of readers will be able to relate to, or at least sympathise with.
It’s not easy to restart your life on your own, after being married for over fifteen years. Clare has been a housewife and stay-at-home mother for the majority of her adult life, and now she has to navigate the world of work all over again, as an almost forty-year-old rookie. And after so many years out of the working world, Clare discovers that although she trained to be a teacher, it’s no longer a job she enjoys. It was encouraging to watch Clare try to figure out her new niche in life, where her talents and interests could best be put to use. Although her situation isn’t ideal, Clare offers hope to other men and women who may find their worlds’ similarly turned upside-down. Divorce isn’t the end of the world, especially when you have the support of your friends and family to hold you up.
Clare’s sisters play a large part in this novel, and they even have their own sort of sub-plots. I say “sort of” because the way that Maggie and Sarah’s stories wove into the main plot didn’t always flow terribly well.
We hear a little about Maggie’s marital problems at the start of the book, and then it takes ages for her story to be picked up again. Maggie is growing frustrated with her husband’s inattention and the lack of romance in her life, and the antics of her teenage daughters are causing her additional stress, but her story takes up so little page-time that it almost felt like it didn’t need to be there at all. It either needed to be more detailed, or taken out altogether, as the little we did hear about Maggie’s troubles almost trivialised them.
Sarah doesn’t get a lot of attention at the start of the book, other than the constant reminders that she dresses in plain, frumpy clothes and spends all of her time on her art. After a while, I got a bit tired of these comments. Finally, Sarah gets more page-time when she spots a guy who catches her attention. She gets a complete makeover and devotes all her free time to getting this guy to pay attention to her, almost to the point of stalking him. While I don’t have any problems with women making the first move in a relationship (in fact, more women should do it!), Sarah turning her world upside down for this guy seemed a bit ridiculous given that she’d met him twice and barely spoken to him. It was a little too “love at first sight” for me. I understood that Sarah being interested in this guy was a big deal because she’d been reclusive and blocked out the world for so long, but she did seem a little stalkerish. I’m glad that she found her happy ending, but the story didn’t entirely work for me.
I’m hesitant to class this as a romance novel. While each of the sisters has their own romance, it isn’t always the focal point of the story.
A lot of Clare’s sections focused on her getting her new life in order, and while she is persued by Officer Sam for a while, he isn’t the love of her life. While other reviewers have complained that half the book focused on Sam when Clare wasn’t actually in love with him, I actually appreciated the way Clare’s story worked out. How many of us have dated people (sometimes for a significant amount of time) only to realise that they’re the not the one we want to spend the rest of our lives with? Clare spends a lot of time talking to and hanging out with Sam, but she knows after a couple of dates that he’s far more serious about the relationship than she is. It takes courage to admit that a relationship isn’t working, and given that Clare had been stuck in a failing marriage for so long, it made sense that she was cautious about dating. I kind of figured, based on Clare’s backstory, that she might end up with someone from her past. While I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone, I will admit that I wished more of the book had focused on Clare reconnecting with her lost love. We got some nice scenes, but not nearly enough for my liking.
This definitely isn’t my favourite of Robyn Carr’s novels, but it is an easy read and an encouraging tale of second chances. Whether you’re married, single or starting over, Never Too Late reminds readers that hope is still out there, sometimes lurking in the most unexpected places.
Disclaimer: This is a general market romance and contains scenes of sexual nature, and occasional strong language.