All Right Here – Carre Armstrong Gardner – The Darlings #1 – Tyndale House Publishers – Published 16 May 2014
Ivy Darling can’t have children of her own, and her husband Nick’s resentment is forcing them apart. And while Ivy has the support and love of her large, close-knit family, Nick’s family has never welcomed her into the fold.When the three children next door are abandoned by their mother, Ivy and Nick take them in for the night. One night becomes several, and suddenly Ivy and Nick find themselves foster parents to the only African-American kids in the town of Copper Cove, Maine. As Ivy grows more attached to the children, Nick refuses to accept their eclectic household as a permanent family. Just as Ivy begins to question whether or not she wants to save her emotionally barren marriage, Nick begins to discover how much Ivy and the children mean to him. But is his change of heart too little, too late?
I have passed over this book a few times, intrigued by the premise but never sure if I would really like it. The main problem was that this was going to be a series about the Darling family, which I assumed was Nick’s family, who in the synopsis of this book are described as standoffish and unloving. Who would want to read a series about a family like that? But the Darlings are actually Ivy’s family (she kept her maiden name when marrying Nick Mason), so the series is actually about a big, loving, slightly crazy family. And that is definitely my kind of book.
All Right Here is both a marriage breakdown/rekindling romance and a story about a family who take in three foster children. Nick and Ivy cannot have children and the void between them grows everyday. Ivy has worked so hard to hold her marriage together, constantly belittled and rebuffed by the aloof Nick. When three children are abandoned by their mother. Ivy and Nick take them in. The children and Ivy learning to mother them is the focus of the book. The three kids are so … well, it’s a mix between heartbreaking and heartwarming. I loved reading about them joining Ivy and Nick’s family, and the everyday line of laughter, love and disaster that families tread. As the kids settle into the Mason/Darling household, they slowly melt Nick’s hardened heart, but his realisation of his neglect of Ivy may just come a little late.
Entwined in Ivy and Nick’s story are the Darlings. This loud, loving family provide the perfect backdrop to the story and great possibilities for future books in the series. They also provide a stark contrast to the shocking-in-their-levels-of-self-absorption Mason family.
Faith plays a great part in this story. Ivy and Nick are Christians, but putting those beliefs into action, caring for orphans, love and forgiveness, are sometimes easier preached than done.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this story. The gentle themes of faith, forgiveness and restoring love are carried by great writing and vibrant characters. I can’t wait to continue this series, both to see how Ivy and Nick and their three kids continue and with new main Darling characters.
Genre: Christian contemporary.
Themes: Family. Faith. Foster children. Marriage. Forgiveness. Love.
Published: 16 May 2014 by Tyndale House Publishers.
Format: Paperback, ebook. 393 pages.
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