Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
As I fell into Catherine Cowles’s forthcoming book, Reckless Memories, the idea of love wound its way through my mind. In reading romance, we oftentimes only think of the definition of love equated with romantic relationships. However, when you look at the word love, there are multiple ideas behind it. Depending on the book you’ve read, the Greeks believed in 6 – 8 forms of love, the most common of them being eros (romantic), philia (brotherly love), and agape (unconditional love). While I was reading Reckless Memories, I found these three “loves” illustrated beautifully through Ford and Bell’s journey. This carefully-turned story encapsulates the power of these types of love towards meting out forgiveness, compassion, and enduring love.
Reckless Memories tells the story of Ford Hardy’s and Isabelle “Bell” Kipton’s journey through pain and trauma to forgiveness and love. Yes, the blurb for Reckless Memories offers a small sense of this book, but it doesn’t really show its depths. There is more to this story than its blurb allows, so I recommend reading this poignant story to discover its power.
For me, Cowles’s ability to render a story that grabs you from the first page and pulls you through the end is impressive. I picked it up yesterday, thinking it would take me a couple of days to read it. However, as has happened with her past books, I simply couldn’t put this story down. Ford and Bell’s story is powerful. It articulates beautifully the difficulty of the mind to move beyond trauma. Cowles shows us the mental fiction we create after a difficulty that prevents our healing. As Ford and Bell encounter each other after a decade apart, they are forced to face the truths of their past. In doing so, they realize that their thoughts were lies. It’s here where I found myself in Cowles’s book. Like Ford and Bell, I create stories around moments that simply don’t exist. Instead of asking for clarity or facing the truth of a situation, my mind overrides all sense. Cowles aptly crafts this in her hero, Ford. We learn quickly in this story that when we face the truth and accept forgiveness we can move forward. Until we make that choice, however, we stagnate at some point. Ford’s travails and acceptance of his love for Bell is the power in this story. For me, he undergoes the biggest transformation, and Cowles writes him well.
In comparison, Bell is the best kind of heroine. Unlike Ford, Bell is hit from a variety of sides when tragedy strikes her and Ford’s life. Ford runs away as his defense mechanism, while Bell is forced to face the consequences. It is here in the story where Cowles shows us the power of philia or brotherly love. Yes, this story is a romance between a hero and heroine. Yet, it is also a love story between friends. Cowles asserts, through her powerful storytelling, that our friends can evolve into a family. When our family from birth is unable to love us as we are, we can create a family of friends who loves, sees, and accepts us, no matter the case. This is one of the most profound ideas of Reckless Memories. With her friends by her side, Bell is able to reinvent herself post-tragedy, and her life is complete until Ford returns. She doesn’t need Ford to complete her, necessarily; instead, he simply adds a layer to her life that makes it more complete. As Cowles acquaints us with Bell, it is clear that her strength lies in her self-knowledge and the love of her friends. It is her fortitude and integrity that make Bell the most heroic, I think.
As Ford and Bell acknowledge their feelings for each other, Cowles articulates the power of eros. From the “Prologue”, it is clear that these two are fated even though complications exist. Cowles has a challenge (I won’t divulge it here) in this story that a writer without the ability to plot a story could find themselves in trouble. However, Cowles meticulously guides us through the potential landmines of her story. In doing so, the reader easily accepts Ford and Bell’s love for each other. Without her careful craftmanship, this could have destroyed the story; instead, their love affair underscores the book’s message.
Lastly, as she does so appealingly, Cowles whispers her prose over the pages of Reckless Memories in a poignant mix of tragedy, suspense, and romance. All of these conspire to build a story that keeps her readers engaged. When you turn to the last page of her book, you want more. More Ford. More Bell. More Anchor. Thankfully, there are more books coming in this series because you simply want more of this story.
Reckless Memories is set on an island, and the ocean that surrounds it represents possibilities. When Ford or Bell need respite, they turn to the beach to find it. Much like Ford and Bell, this book is also a perfect place to journey for respite. While its suspense will keep you turning the page, Catherine Cowles’s careful storytelling will help you escape into a world where anything is possible if you simply embrace love and family and friendship.
In love and romance,