Reader’s Edyn

I always felt like I could do something more than just read. Finally, I have found both a creative outlet and a chance to do something meaningful with my reading. This blog was created in appreciation of and tribute to all of the authors who have brought me joy through their books. These reviews are my way of giving back to authors and providing recognition for the hard work that each one completes every day!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Review: FOREVER by Jude Deveraux

          Title: Forever
                     (Book One; Forever Trilogy)
           Author: Jude Deveraux
           Release Date: October 1, 2002
           Publisher: Pocket Books
           Genre: Contemporary Paranormal Romance
           Format: Digital, Hardcover, Paperback
           Click To Buy Now
           Author's Website

Darci Monroe overcame a childhood of neglect with an ebullient spirit, a positive attitude...and extraordinary determination. Now the resourceful young woman, hired as Adam Montgomery's personal assistant, devotes more than just professional attention to this devastatingly handsome millionaire. But one thing bars Adam from accepting Darci's love: he is intent on discovering the secret of his parents' disappearance, for she possesses the otherworldly abilities needed to help him fight a terrifying mistress of the dark arts. What Darci ends up offering is a gift greater than Adam ever hoped for, for Darci loves with all her heart, and all her soul, forever...

Darci looked over the job application again, checking that she’d been absolutely truthful on every line, with no “imagination” added. Her mother said that Darci’s “imagination” was like a family curse. “Must have come from your father’s side of the family,” Jerlene Monroe would say whenever her daughter did something she didn’t understand. “Whoever he may be,” Uncle Vern could be counted on to add under his breath — then there’d be a fight. When it got to the part where Uncle Vern was shouting that his niece wasn’t “full of imagination” but was just a plain ol’ garden variety blankety-blank liar, Darci would silently leave the room and open a book.
But now Darci was in beautiful New York City, she had a fabulous college education under her belt, and she was applying for what had to be the best job that anyone had ever seen. And I’m going to get it! she said to herself, closing her eyes for a moment as she clutched the folded newspaper to her chest. I’ll apply my True Persuasion to this and I’ll be sure to get the job, she thought.
You okay?” asked the young woman in front of her in what Darci recognized as some type of Yankee accent.
Wonderful,” Darci said, smiling. “And you?”
Feeling like an idiot, actually. I mean, can you really believe this thing?” she asked, holding up the same newspaper that Darci was clutching. She was a tall young woman, much taller than Darci, and, compared to Darci, she was downright fat. But then people were always describing Darci as scrawny. “She’s ‘fashionably thin,’” her mother would say. “Jerlene!” her sister, Thelma, would snap, “you ain’t never fed that girl nothin’ but Jell-O and sugar cereal. She’s probably starvin’ to death.” This statement would produce a lot of anger from Darci’s mother, then a torrent of words about how hard it was to raise a daughter single-handedly. “You ain’t raised her; the neighbors has,” Uncle Vern would say; then the fight would escalate.
Now Darci smiled at the woman in front of her. “I think it’s a miracle,” she said. Darci was pretty in a fragile sort of way, with wide-set blue eyes, a tiny nose, and a little rosebud mouth. She was only five-feet-two and weighed so little that her clothes always hung loosely on her. Right now, her little black skirt with the shiny seat was fastened at the waist with a big safety pin.
You don’t think you’re really going to get this job, do you?” the woman in front asked.
Oh, yes,” Darci said, taking a deep breath. “I believe in thinking positively. If you think it, you can achieve it, is what I truly believe.”
The woman opened her mouth to say something; then she gave a sly smile. “Okay, so what do you think the job is, exactly? It can’t be sex because it pays too much money. I can’t imagine it’s for running drugs or that they need a hit man, because the announcement is too public, so what do you think they really want?”
Darci blinked at the woman. Her aunt Thelma had washed Darci’s only suit in soap powder that she’d bought on sale, then had taken it out of the washer before the rinse cycle began. “Saves money that way,” Aunt Thelma had said. Maybe it was cheaper, but now the dried soap in the fabric was itching Darci’s bare arms inside the unlined sleeves of the suit, as her pink, ruffled blouse was sleeveless.
I think someone wants a personal assistant,” Darci said, not understanding the woman’s question.
At that the woman laughed. “You really think that someone is willing to pay a hundred grand a year for a PA and that you are going to get the job because you….What? Because you believe you’re going to get it?”
Before Darci could reply, the woman standing in line behind her said, “Give her a break, will you? And if you don’t think you’re going to get the job, then why the hell are you standing in line?”
Darci didn’t approve of cursing, not in any way, and she meant to say something, but the woman three down in the line spoke up. “Does anybody here have any idea what this job is about? I’ve been waiting for four hours and I can’t find out anything.”
Four!” a woman several people ahead said loudly. “I’ve been here for six hours!”
I spent the night on the sidewalk,” a woman standing half a block ahead yelled.
After that, all the women began to talk to each other, and since the line was nearly four blocks long, that made quite a noise.
But Darci didn’t participate in speculating on what the job was really for, because she knew in her heart, in its deepest part, that the job was for her. It was the answer to her prayers. For the last four years, all through college, she’d prayed every night for God to help her with the situation she was in with Putnam. And last night, when she’d seen this ad, she’d known it was the answer to her prayers.

Dialogue Highlight:
In the center of the room was a big oak desk, the kind that all used-furniture stores seemed to have an unlimited supply of. A man was sitting behind the desk on one of the metal chairs, and to his left, off to one side, sat a woman. She was in her fifties, dressed in a pretty twinset and a long cotton skirt, and around her neck and on her hands sparkled gold and diamonds. She had a perfectly ordinary face, one that no one would notice in a crowd, except that she had the most intense eyes that Darci had ever seen. Now, as she watched Darci enter the room, those huge brown eyes didn’t blink.
But after only one glance at the woman, Darci looked away, because the man behind the desk was the most gorgeous person she’d ever seen in her life. Oh, maybe he wasn’t movie-star beautiful, but he was the kind of man that Darci had always liked. For one thing, he was older, at least in his midthirties. “You can’t get a father by marryin’ one,” her mother had said more than once, but that didn’t stop Darci from being attracted to men past thirty. “Past thirty and they may as well be past seventy” was her mother’s philosophy, but then Jerlene’s boyfriends seemed to get younger every year.
Please have a seat,” the man said, and Darci thought he had a lovely voice, deep and rich.
He was a tall man, at least he looked as though he would be tall if he stood up, and he had beautiful black hair, lots of it, with wings of gray above his ears. Like a lion’s mane, she thought, staring at the man with her eyes so wide open they were beginning to tear. But she didn’t want to blink in case he was a product of her imagination and didn’t really exist.
Besides his beautiful hair, he had a strong jaw with a lovely square chin with a little cleft in it (just like Cary Grant, she thought), small flat ears (she always noticed men’s ears) and deep-set blue eyes. Unfortunately, they were the eyes of someone who seemed to be carrying the weight of the world. But then, maybe he was just tired from asking so many women so many questions.
May I see your application?” he asked, holding out his hand to her across the desk.
May I? Darci thought. Not “Can I?” but a proper “may,” as in asking permission. With a smile, she handed the paper to him, and he began to read it as she sat down. While she was waiting, Darci tucked her hands under her knees and began to swing her legs as she glanced about the room, but when she looked at the woman to the man’s left, she stopped swinging and sat still. There was something about the woman’s eyes that were a bit unnerving. “Nice day,” Darci said to the woman, but her face gave no indication that she’d heard Darci, even though the woman was staring at her hard.
You’re twenty-three?” the man asked, drawing Darci’s attention back to him.
Yes,” she answered.
And college educated?” At that he looked her up and down, and his eyes said that he didn’t believe her. Darci was used to that. She didn’t quite understand it, but it often happened that people looked at her machine-washed suit and her fine, flyaway hair and thought that she didn’t look like a college girl.
Mann’s Developmental College for Young Ladies,” Darci said. “It’s a very old school.”
I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it. Where is it?”
It’s anywhere, actually,” she said. “It’s a correspondence school.”
Ah, I see,” the man said, then put down her application. “So tell me about yourself, Darci.”
I’m from Putnam, Kentucky, and I’ve lived there all my life. I’d never been more than fifty miles out of Putnam until two weeks ago when I came here to New York. I’m staying with my aunt, my mother’s sister, and her husband, until I can find a job.”
And what do you want to become when — ” He stopped himself, but she knew he’d been about to say, When you grow up? The smallness of her often made people mistake her for a child. “And what did you study to be?”
Nothing,” Darci said cheerfully. “I studied a little bit of everything. I like to learn about different things.” When neither the man nor the woman responded to this, Darci said meekly, “I know nothing about computers.”
That’s fine,” the man said. “So tell me, Darci, do you have a boyfriend?”
Alarm bells started ringing in Darci’s head. Had she given herself away already? Had this beautiful man seen that Darci was attracted to him? Was he thinking that he wasn’t going to get a worker but some love-struck girl mooning over him all day?
Oh, yes,” Darci said brightly. “I’m engaged to be married. To Putnam. He’s — ”
The same name as your town?”
Yes. Putnam owns the town.” She tried to laugh in what she hoped was a sophisticated, big-city way. “Although Putnam’s not much to own, what there is, belongs to Putnam. Or to his family, anyway. All of them own it, the town, I mean. And the factories, of course.”
Factories? How many factories?”
Eleven, twelve,” she said, then thought. “No, I think there’re fifteen of them now. Putnam’s father builds them at a prodigious rate.”
“‘Prodigious,’” the man said, then bent his head down, and Darci wasn’t sure, but she thought he smiled a bit. But when he looked back up, his face was once again solemn. “If you’re to marry a rich man, then you don’t need a job, do you?”
Oh, but I do!” Darci said fiercely. “You see — ” she began, but then she broke off and caught her lower lip between her teeth. Her mother was constantly warning her not to tell everybody everything there was to know about her. “Leave some mystery,” her mother said. If there was ever such a time, Darci was sure that now was the time to leave a bit of mystery. And maybe it wouldn’t hurt to add a little “imagination.” “Putnam won’t inherit for years, so we have to make it on our own. I came here to New York to earn as much as I can so I can return to my beloved home and marry the man I love.” She said all this in one breath, while behind her back, the fingers on her right hand were crossed.
For a while the man looked at her hard, and she stared back at him just as hard. As for the woman, she had neither spoken nor even blinked as far as Darci could tell.
If you’re in love with a man, you won’t be able to travel. And if you have relatives here in New York, you’d miss them if you were away for weeks at a time.”
No, I wouldn’t!” Darci said too quickly. But she didn’t want the man to think that she was an ungrateful person, certainly not after all her aunt and uncle had done for her. “They, uh…” she began. “They have their own lives, and as much as I love them, I think they’d do quite well without me. And my mother has….” What could she say? That her mother had a new boyfriend twelve years her junior and she probably wouldn’t notice if Darci fell into a hole? “My mother also has her own life. Clubs, charities, that sort of thing.” Could Putnam’s Spuds and Suds be considered a “club”?
And your young man?”
She had to think for a moment to know whom he meant. “Oh. Putnam. Well, he has lots of interests, and he, uh….He wants me to have a whole year of — ” She almost said “freedom,” which would have been close to the truth. “He wants me to have a year to myself before we begin on our lifelong journey of love together.”
Darci thought this last was a rather nice turn of phrase, but she noticed there was a teeny tiny curl of the man’s upper lip that made him look as though he were going to be ill. She wasn’t sure what she was doing wrong, but she knew that she was blowing this interview. She took a deep breath. “I really do need this job,” she said softly. “And I’ll work very hard for you.” She knew that her voice was pleading, almost begging, but she couldn’t help herself.
The man turned to the woman who was sitting slightly behind him. “Do you have what you need?” he asked, and the woman gave a tiny nod. As the man turned back to Darci, he picked up her application and put it on top of a pile of others. “All right, Miss, uh — ”
Monroe,” Darci said. “No relation.” When the man looked blank, she said, “To the other one.”
Oh, I see,” he said. “The actress.” He didn’t pretend to think the joke was funny but kept his solemn expression. “As you have seen, we have many applicants, so if we’d like to interview you again, we’ll call you. You wrote your telephone number on here?”
Oh, yes, but don’t call between eight and ten. That’s when my uncle Vern watches TV, and he….” Her voice trailed off. Slowly, she stood up, then paused as she looked at the man. “I do need this job,” she said again.
So do they all, Miss Monroe,” the man said, then looked back at the older woman, and Darci knew that she’d been dismissed.
It took all her willpower to keep her shoulders erect as she left the office and looked into the hopeful eyes of the women sitting in the little waiting room. Like all the others she’d seen leave the office, she shrugged in answer to their silent inquiries. She had no idea how she’d done in the interview. Once she was on the street again, she opened her handbag and checked her wallet. How much food could she get for seventy-five cents? Sometimes the greengrocers would charge her very little for bruised bananas that they couldn’t sell.
With her head up, her shoulders back, Darci started walking. Maybe she was going to get the job. Why not? She had all the qualifications, didn’t she? They wanted someone who had few skills, and that certainly fit her. The spring returned to her step, and, smiling, she began to walk faster, occupying her mind with planning what she’d say when the man called and told her she had the job. “That’s how I’ll act: gracious,” she said aloud. “Gracious and surprised.” Smiling more broadly, she picked up her step. She needed to get home so she could apply her True Persuasion to this problem.

Adam signaled to the woman at the door to hold the applicants for a while. He needed to stretch and to move around. Walking to the windows, he clasped his hands behind his back. “This isn’t working,” he said to the woman behind him. “We haven’t found one woman who’s even close to being right. What do I have to do, canvass the elementary schools?”

The last one was lying,” the woman behind him said softly.
Adam turned to look at her. “That one? The little Kentucky hillbilly? Poor thing. That suit she had on looked as though it’d been washed in a creek. And, besides, she has a boyfriend, a rich one. Is that what she was lying about? Those factories she says his family owns? He probably has a twenty-year-old pickup with a gun rack in the back.”
She was lying about everything,” the woman said, staring up at Adam.
He started to speak, but he’d learned long ago that Helen used her mind and abhorred normal human ways of communication — which meant that she hated to talk. Many times she’d said to him, “I told you that.” Afterward, he’d racked his brain until he’d finally remembered that she had indeed said one short sentence that had told him everything.
But now Helen had repeated this one sentence, so he knew it was very important. Tired as he was, he nearly leaped across the room to grab the girl’s application off the top of the stack and handed it to the woman. Staring into space, she took the paper and ran her hands over it, not reading it, just touching it. After a while, she smiled; then the smile grew broader.
She looked up at Adam. “She’s lying about everything there is to lie about,” she said happily.
She doesn’t have a boyfriend, no aunt and uncle? Doesn’t need the job? Exactly what is she lying about?”
Helen waved her hand in dismissal, as these questions weren’t important to her. “She’s not what she seems, not what she thinks she is, not what you see her as.”
Adam had to work to keep his mouth shut. He hated the convoluted, cryptic talk of clairvoyants. Why couldn’t the woman just say what she meant?
Helen, as always, read Adam’s thoughts, and, as always, they amused her. What she liked about him was that he wasn’t in awe of her abilities. Most people were terrified that clairvoyants could read their innermost secrets, but Adam was trying to find out his own secrets and those of others, so she held no fear for him.
You want to tell me what you’re really saying?” he asked, glaring down at her.
She’s the one.”

First I would like to explain that my choice in excerpt and dialogue highlight were chosen because they set the book up well. I bought the trilogy wanting only to read it because it was written by Ms. Deveraux. I have read nearly all of her books and had been wanting to read this series for quite some time. Initially, I did not know what to expect. I knew that it was a series and I knew that it was not one of the beloved HRs that I traditionally enjoy. Honestly, after reading the prologue, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read it anymore or not because the introductory story was so dark and creepy. But I pressed on and was ultimately glad that I did. I think that my brief time spent with Darci when I read HOLLY helped keep me motivated in starting this series because I remembered her ability and liking her character. I was not wrong in my initial estimation; taking a liking to her almost immediately. She is fun and quirky and has a whole different outlook on life than any other character I had ever encountered before.

Darci T. Monroe ~ she is nothing short of mystifying in her way of thinking and quirky behaviors. She has seen a lot in her short life and despite the evil she has seen in people, she still looks for the good in everyone and everything. She is kind by nature and is always looking for ways to hep others; even if they have no idea she is actually helping them. Darci applies what she calls her True Persuasion to people and events in an effort to influence outcomes to the way she wants them. She genuinely and naively believes that anyone is capable of such a thing. She needs a job fast and she needs a lot of money so she applies to work for Adam Montgomery. The dark and dangerous journey she begins with him exposes her to horrors she never knew existed which is periodically quelled by her attraction to Adam and the goofy antics she cooks up to make him want her. Their attraction is a much needed respite from the unspeakable truths they uncover. Along the way, they develop a closeness and even discover many facts abut Darci's heritage that she could never have imagined.

Adam Montgomery has experienced indescribable horrors and survived them; at a cost. He has always felt the outsider despite his enormous family that took him in. Fueled by a fierce determination to find the truth of his tortured childhood, he discovers Darci and finds that she is the key to his success of unlocking many unanswered questions that have always hovered far out of his grasp. Hardened against allowing himself luxuries such as relaxing, enjoying almost nothing; especially not something like love, he finds his defenses challenged continually by the little snippet of a girl now in his employ. Her carefree attitude and silliness eventually wears him down and before long he is almost envious of her ability to enjoy life and longs for more from her. But he knows something she does not and can not, under any circumstances, allow himself to act on the feelings he develops.

I had no trouble at all rooting for this couple and wanting to see them succeed in their quest to bring evil to justice. And it truly is evil. Several parts are a bit confusing given Darci's penchant for leaving out details and embellishing half truths, but everything eventually comes to light and makes sense. Adam is a bit of a stick in the mud, but Darci compliments his deficiencies almost to an extreme, albeit in an entertaining way. I ended up wondering what her next stunt would be and how she would try to pinch more pennies along the way. Her obsession with saving money becomes almost comical given Adam's deep pockets. My only problem with the story was that the end hit quick and wrapped up neatly with a serious lack of detail. It was like, oh, the face off! And then, what the hell? It is over? Seriously? That bugged me. And it very nearly ruined the whole book. But the epilogue saved it because it gave me a glimpse of what was coming next. Or at least I think so. One thing that surprised me was that there was no sexual encounters to speak of. There were several comments made by Darci in her attempts to snare Adam, but never the actual act, which was unexpected given the previous stories I have read from Ms. Deveraux. And of course there was Adam's moments of temptation, but I have to say I was a little disappointed with that as well because I really wanted Adam to let loose and get the past off of his back, then jump on Darci and show her what he was really capable of.

Overall, this book was a good read if a bit dark what with the evil witch that Adam and Darci have to go after. And with the lack of descriptive sex, I can recommend it to others that I know wouldn't read that sort of thing. I just hope I see a little more of the Deveraux style I have come to love in the next book. Had I not known she wrote it, I wouldn't have guessed it otherwise. I can't call it one of her best, but I still found it enjoyable and entertaining.

(Paperback purchased for personal library.)

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