Jea Hawkin’s immersive contemporary/historical novel delivers a blend of romance and discovery as storylines alternate in time. Peyton’s and Brooke’s marriage is in a downward spiral. Clear and honest communication is ancient history and grievances keep piling up. Standing amidst the dilapidated farmhouse of Brooke’s deceased great-aunt Marty Bell, all Peyton, an engineer by trade, can see is a money pit. All Brooke can see is her wife saying no, yet again. However, they discover secrets buried in the Hudson Valley, deep in the bones of the house, that force them to confront more than just their own ailing marriage.
Marty’s cache of letters and diary entries transport the women back to 1939. It was a precipice for the world, the country, and a young woman in rural upstate New York. Her life changes forever when she meets Vera, an intriguing woman in trousers who works for a traveling circus. Romance blooms, forcing them to grapple with outside social demands and personal desires that allows for only a piecemeal paradise. As much as my sappy heart wanted smooth sailing for Marty and Vera, I appreciate Jea Hawkins ability to draw out the nuances in their relationship.
While the faults in a marriage often go both ways, and in this instance Peyton and Brooke are no exception, Brooke’s childish behavior, often manifesting in literal foot stomping, makes it difficult for me to empathize with her plight. However, as they continue exploring the story left behind by Marty and repair the farmhouse, the couple begin to better understand each other, as well. I found myself just as eager as they were to discover what happened to the older women. Did they get a happily-ever-after? What happened to Vera? And how did Marty end up with a rogue elephant?! Read with a box of tissues close at hand.
As Long as Love Lasts by Jea Hawkins
Wicked Hearts Publishing, August 2018