Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
At first glance, there is a seeming simplicity to Melanie Harlow’s storytelling. In looking at the Cloverleigh Farms series, you find this family of characters who love, trust, and care for each other to the edges of their beings. Five women with five different stories, yet the thread of family and hope runs deep through all of them. This is the tie that binds all of the stories together, and nothing in this series best illustrates the truth of the Sawyer family than Harlow’s newest book, Unforgettable.
Yes, it would be easy to reduce this book to its trope: second chance romance. Yes, it would be simple to say it’s a story about two people needing to let go of their pasts in order to set upon a journey into the future. Yes, I could further reduce it to a grumpy, disillusioned hero and an emotionally-gripping, intelligent heroine who complete each other to their very depths. Unforgettable holds all of these characteristics and more. Yet, the essence of Unforgettable, the heart of it, lies in the depth of family. This book above any of the other ones, I think, cuts the deepest in showing the power of family to love, sacrifice, and empower. Unforgettable beautifully articulates the message of adoption and its ability to bring people together. For me, this book became my favorite Cloverleigh Farms story because it takes hurt people and heals their wounds through the unbreakable spirit of family.
I refuse to give the secrets of this book away to the readers. What I want to note is Harlow’s ability to craft these exquisite stories that reflect the human spirit. In Unforgettable, April and Tyler need to “let go” of their pasts in order to move forward. While April has achieved professionally, her personal life feels meted out in tiny moments. She seems suspended yet ready to move forward to find love. For Tyler, professionally and personally, his life has been derailed. He has lost his purpose and sense of self. Like April, he needs to examine and move beyond his past so that he can find new professional and personal purpose. With the help of family and their own profound connection, April and Tyler allow love to move them forward away from the hurts and disappointments of their pasts. The depth of this message relates to any of us who have felt trapped, disillusioned by change, or disappointed. In April and Tyler, Harlow helps us see the ways we intersect with their stories and encourages us to move forward, letting family and love guide our way forward.
Harlow’s storytelling draws you in. When I began Unforgettable, I had been impatient to start it. April and Tyler’s life choices are powerful ones. It isn’t that the other books in the series aren’t. However, April’s sacrifice illustrates the capacity to love beyond yourself. As their journey progresses, you simply cannot set this book aside. You need Tyler to determine that he is more than baseball; you need April to move past her guilt, and you need these two to realize their souls’ connection. As Harlow crafts moments of dissension and chemistry and humor, you simply need more. Once I began, there was absolutely no stopping my read. And in the end, Harlow’s epilogue brings the sweetest of moments. When I finished Unforgettable, I already felt nostalgic for the stories of the Sawyers. In giving us April and Tyler’s ultimate happy ending which offers a Tyler who is finally complete in himself, an April who has been blessed beyond measure for her sacrifice, and a family that exudes love, you can’t help but wish there were more Sawyers.
There is something sweet that whispers through Melanie Harlow’s writing. While the idea of “family” is the foundation of the Cloverleigh Farms series, it is really Harlow’s care and quietude in her writing voice that impresses. It’s the reason that so many of us need more of her books. Unforgettable is no different. Second chance, small town romance with a grumpy hero confounded by life and a self-reflective, intelligent heroine ready for more for herself might not be your thing. If it isn’t, then it should be.
In love and romance,