“It’s like a substantial part of me is missing — and that part of me is her.”
My love for Winter Renshaw began with her P.S. series. She has this way of creating characters that melt your heart into a puddle with their love for each other, even those characters who begin as enemies. Her current book, For Lila, Forever reads a bit different than her previous books, in my opinion.
This is a story of a forbidden, second chance at love. Thayer and Lila, the two main characters, meet on Thayer’s family’s island. Lila’s grandparents work for Thayer’s grandfather on this island, and Lila joins them after the death of her mother. She too becomes a servant for Thayer’s grandfather. At first glance, Thayer begins to fall for Lila. Initially, Lila is wary because Thayer comes from a family of privilege, and that is a life unknown to Lila. Thayer’s grandfather has hung his hopes for the family’s future on Thayer, and his grandfather makes it clear that he is to leave Lila alone. Unfortunately, Thayer sees a strength in Lila and her grief, and he befriends her. He is drawn to her. Likewise, Lila is drawn to them, and over a short time, they fall deeply in love with each other. However, when the summer ends, Thayer must return to Yale. They agree to forgo communicating with each other, as communication is terrible from the island. They commit to each other even in this absence.
The next summer, Thayer returns, and Lila and her grandparents are gone. He is devastated, but refuses to lose hope. He spends the next ten years of his life searching for her, loving no one else. Does he find her? Will she still love him as he loves her? Even more, why did she leave without a trace, without a letter for him? That is the mystery of this story. It is the impetus for charging forward.
Usually, Renshaw’s story’s are decadent in character development. As I mentioned at the beginning, the characters drive a story line that isn’t necessarily offering a new take on a romantic trope. You can’t help but fall in love with her characters, hoping for them to find their HEA. However, For Lila, Forever is different in this sense.
“There’s a gentleness about him, an easiness that I didn’t anticipate. It’s the smoothness of his voice, the way his eyes crinkle when he smiles. He never talks about himself — even during meals. He’s always asking everyone else what they’re doing or what’s going on in their lives. And it’s plain to see he’s the clear favorite among the three grandchildren.”
Thayer is a good guy. We know that, while he grew up with wealth, his father insists in living more simply. Thayer isn’t overly spoiled, and he sees Lila’s grief and wants to help ease her into the life of the island. There is a sensitivity about him. He isn’t a bad guy. Similarly, Lila’s strength comes from being raised by a single mother. She knows who she is, and she doesn’t initially jump into Thayer’s arms, yet she is attracted to his nature. She is guarded for good reason. As a reader, you can’t help but like both of these characters. Yet, they are fairly one-dimensional, not Renshaw’s usual fare. They might be the reason to read the book, but, really, the story is the creative monster of this book.
This story has several twists and turns. Renshaw switches between the past and the present, so we gain the depth of the story. It’s full of secrets that you don’t necessarily see coming, and the ending is perfection, a true HEA. It makes you swoon as Renshaw perfectly creates an emblem of Thayer’s full love for Lila. To be honest, it was my favorite part of the book.
What I struggled with the most in this book is the love affair between Thayer and Lila. As the character development was different in this book, I wanted to understand the reason Thayer was so drawn to Lila initially. We know they make eye contact for the first time and he knows: she is his soulmate. And in romance, this is usually acceptable. However, I’ve come to expect more from Renshaw, I think. I wanted a bit more development of that love affair. There are certain authors whom I’ll accept “love at first sight” and quickly jumping into bed, but Renshaw oftentimes takes us on a more twisty, turny journey towards that end. In this book, I was left a little disappointed by how quickly they come together. Again, I think this book is more about the creative nature of this story, and I easily forgave her for this.
“From the moment I saw her, something called to me. I believe now that it was her soul calling to mine. She’s my soulmate.”
If you love a side of angst with a sweet hero and strong heroine in your romance, then you will absolutely love For Lila, Forever. Winter Renshaw has written a story that captures you and pulls you through Thayer and Lila’s story over time. In the end, you will be fully satiated by their “happily ever after.”
In love and romance,