Publication date: March 5, 2013
Series: The Sullivans #8
The long-awaited story of Lori Sullivan, talented dancer of the Sullivans marks the last of this branch of the Sullivans. It tells a tale of forgiveness and learning again to trust in love.
Lori Sullivan, nicknamed "Naughty," really isn't all that naughty. She's easy to trust and easy to give out love, which gives this tender-hearted beauty such an innocent, endearing nature underneath the tough act she puts up. After a devastating emotional betrayal, she abandons her show in Chicago and flees to a random location, and decides to try being a farmhand for a while, at the farm of our hero, Grayson Tyler. Grayson feels responsible for a tragedy that occurred three years ago, and has since then attempted to shut everyone out of his life; his seemingly impenetrable barrier now being tested with the arrival of a passionate and determined Lori Sullivan. Of course, we know from the first moment that Grayson doesn't stand a chance against Lori's easy charms, incredible beauty, and vivacity for life and people. As she becomes more determined to create a warm hearth in the coldness of his heart, Grayson learns to forgive himself and completes the missing piece in Lori's puzzle - by showing her the meaning of true love.
Aside from the palpable sexual tension in Bella Andre's works, there is a great amount of depth to her characters. Neither character is close to being perfect, but that only serves to complement the perfection in their being together. Lori lives the glamorous life of a dancer, but having grown up with 7 siblings she knows about real work and is not afraid to go the extra mile to achieve something of value. Underneath her determination and hard work is a heart of gold, one who grieves over a dying cat and makes friends with farm animals. At the same time, there is a hidden vulnerability to her that Grayson notices, which makes him all the more endearing. For all that the Sullivans are amazing, Lori brandishes her moniker and tough facade like a shield; for fear of going unnoticed she hides a part of her true self from public view. Grayson, naturally, is our resident tortured hero. For most of the novel he contends with past ghosts, yet as he slowly succumbs under Lori's spell, he polishes the diamond within her which in turn helps to erase the guilt in his own heart.
This is a sweet tale of two touching and realistic characters, both full of injuries that are slowly healed by each other. Personally I feel like this story could do with a little less sex, but with all the underlying emotional content it isn't a great complaint. Always On My Mind comes off with resounding sweetness and love, a trademark of Bella Andre's writing. The ending is especially worthy of a Disney film, as we wave good-bye to the happy couples of the 8 Sullivan siblings and move towards the Seattle Sullivans starting with cousin Rafe, whose story was released this September.
Rating: 4.5 tulips
My review for Come A Little Bit Closer (The Sullivans #7)