Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: contemporary romance
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Date Released: March 31, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository
Clare Wilson is starting over. She’s had it with her marriage to a charming serial cheater. Even her own son thinks she’s given his father too many chances. With the support of her sisters, Maggie and Sarah, she’s ready to move on. Facing her fortieth birthday, Clare is finally feeling the rush of unadulterated freedom.
But when a near-fatal car accident lands Clare in the hospital, her life takes another detour. While recovering, Clare realizes she has the power to choose her life’s path. The wonderful younger police officer who witnessed her crash is over the moon for her. A man from her past stirs up long-buried feelings. Even her ex is pining for her. With enthusiasm and a little envy, her sisters watch her bloom.
Together, the sisters encourage each other to seek what they need to be happy. Along the way they all learn that it’s never too late to begin again.
I say precursor because Never Too Late was originally published in 2006, and is being reissued in the wake of Four Friends’ success.
Instead of four friends, Never Too Late features three sisters. Clare, Maggie and Sarah have each come to a crossroads in their lives, and are in different places but possibly the same set of ruts. Then Clare has a life-altering automobile accident and in the stress of re-working her own life, all three sisters find themselves taking a sharp look at their own.
At the time of the accident, Clare and her husband Roger were separated. Again. Roger has a problem keeping his pants zipped, and Clare has left him. Again. She usually takes him back. Eventually. There have been a lot of good times in their marriage, and they have a teen-aged son they both love. Roger isn’t a bad husband, he just isn’t a faithful one, and never has been.
Clare stops by their house, which Roger is still living in, to drop off a birthday card and pick up some of her kitchen stuff. Roger said he was going to be out of town on his birthday. Instead, Clare finds him in their old bedroom boinking some blond. Or being boinked, since the blond is on top.
It’s finally enough to break Clare’s cycle of discovery, separation, reconciliation. In a strange way, Roger isn’t totally wrong this time. They are separated and have been for months at this point. But he lied about being out of town, and he’s doing it with someone else in their bed. It does blow away Clare’s willingness to reconcile – it finally makes her witness that he is never going to change.
She speeds away from the “scene of the crime” only to get stopped by a handsome young cop who clocks her 15 or 20 miles over the speed limit. He’s too smitten to write Clare a ticket, and Clare feels a boost from having a younger man hit on her.
It all goes to crap when she gets T-boned in the next intersection by a distracted driver who totally blows through a red light. Clare wakes up in the hospital in agony, shattered in more places than she ever imagined.
Physical therapy is going to take months, and her entire life is thrown out the window. Her sisters Maggie and Sarah rally round, along with their Dad, as they all pitch in to take care of Clare while she needs it.
But as Clare gets back on her feet, she makes changes in her life that will have far reaching consequences. And that handsome young police officer provides a much needed boost to her ego as well as a friend she can confide in, while Clare recovers and waits to see if there’s anything there beyond friendship and some really hot chemistry that her fractured pelvis won’t let her act on – yet.
At this point, it seems like the story is going to be about Clare moving into a new future with her hot cop, but instead, the story shifts.
In the middle of her divorce from philandering Roger, Clare discovers that she’s not ready to get into a serious relationship with someone new. She’s still getting her life on track. Unfortunately for Sam the cop, he’s fallen in love and wants to start a serious relationship right now.
But Clare’s sister Sarah is totally smitten with Sam, and when Clare moves out of her way, Sarah swoops in.
Meanwhile Maggie finally realizes that her perfect marriage isn’t really perfect. She can’t even remember the last time she had sex with her husband. Is the spark just gone, or is there a medical cause that can be fixed?
As Clare plans on a future without her ex, she looks for a job. She’s been a substitute teacher for years, but now she needs to go back full-time. Where she knows she’ll have to work with a former flame. She’s felt guilty for 19 years about her drunken one-night stand with Pete – because at the time she was engaged to his brother. A brother who later died in an Air Force training exercise. She’s never gotten over her guilt and regret, and Pete’s never gotten over her.
Escape Rating B: I enjoyed Never Too Late quite a bit. It was a good antidote for several excellent but scary, sad or just plain disturbing books that I read recently. You will finish Never Too Late with a smile on your face, and that’s always a good thing.
I’ll admit that I didn’t identify with the characters in the same way that I did Four Friends, so it didn’t quite “sing” for me.
The sisters make for interesting contrasts. Maggie is always organized and on top of things, Clare is always forgiving, and Sarah is always retreating into her own little world. After Clare’s accident, everything changes.
Clare has always been too accommodating. It’s not just that she sees the best in people, but she always tries to take care of everyone. And she’s too self-effacing about it, because she never takes care of herself. That she took Roger back over and over (and over) drove her family crazy. It also made them think less of her.
Her willingness to forgive Roger stems from her own need for forgiveness over her long-ago indiscretion. She feels like if she can’t give it, she can’t be worthy of it herself. What she needs to do is forgive herself, and for that she needs some closure with Pete.
Sarah’s pursuit of Sam comes a bit out of nowhere. As a teen, she was a wild child, and their mother was always after her about it. When their mother died, those issues were unresolved. (There are lots of unresolved issues in this story). In grief, or as penance, Sarah flip-flopped from being a wild child to a complete frump.
When she meets Sam, she falls into insta-lust, if not insta-love. But frumpy Sarah goes unnoticed. She finally steps out into the world, and celebrates herself again, in order to have a chance at sweeping Sam off his unsuspecting feet. The poor guy is on the rebound from Clare and doesn’t stand a chance.
The entire story wraps up a bit suddenly and a bit too easily at the end, but I really enjoyed my visit with Clare, Sarah and Maggie.
Robyn and the tour organizers are giving away a copy of Never Too Late to one lucky U.S. winner.
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