Between Now and Forever is the 4th book in the Callaways Series by Barbara Freethy.
Remember that this series is about the Callaway family, all 8 kids!!
I found Between Now and Forever to be a more complex story than what this series is so far.
This one is much more of a mystery (a romantic suspense) while still having romance in it.
It's classified as both a contemporary romance and a romantic suspense.
Yes, the romance between Nicole and Ryan is intense and poignant as they've been married for several years and have been fighting and become estranged.
And of course, there's another book cover for this, but it's almost the same.
You'll find this book to be a full length novel with no cliff hanger. There's a problem to solve that they work together to solve.
And yes there's also story loops for future stories and pieces from previous characters so that we know how they are doing.
And while this is a romance, the mystery is the bigger part of the plot. And it's while they're solving that they mend their relationship and come back together.
Part of the mystery has to deal with their son Brandon. He's only 6yrs old and he gets kidnapped.
This is Nicole's story. Her and Ryan have been married for several years and have a young son, Brandon, 6yrs old.
But things are not good between them. And it hasn't been good between them since their son got sick. But he wasn't sick. He developed autism.
The author does a good of describing the pain and anger that parents can go thru when they hear this type of diagnosis of their child. The pain, anger and the sense of loss that they feel along with the hopelessness that they'll feel.
This is what Nicole has been feeling. She's been fighting for her son for so long that she's forgotten her husband and even herself.
She desperately wants her son to "wake" up and be normal again. Which I'm sure that that is a desperate feeling that a mother would feel in this situation.
But when her son gets kidnapped, things take a different angle.
She's no longer fighting for her son to be normal, she's fighting to find him and keep him safe.
Of course, her estranged husband comes home when he hears. And together they embark on a journey they didn't see coming.
You see, they find out that not only was their son kidnapped but another boy was also kidnapped and he happens to be their son's identical twin. An exciting twist!!
They join forces with the mother of the other boy in the search for boys. And the story that they uncover is amazing and complicated and interesting.
And it's along the way that Ryan and Nicole are forced to come to terms with how things have developed in their relationship. They talk things out. They find each other again. They actually "see" each other.
It takes the majority of the book to reconcile, but they do and she also comes to terms with her son's condition and learns acceptance.
So while the story was about who took the boys, the story was also about learning to love the one you lost and learning to accept things for how they are and not wanting something to be different.
And Nicole learns that her son is not broken, he's perfect. And they also learn that the brother, Kyle, is an essential part of Brandon's health. They bond after being kidnapped and rely upon each other.
There's also a connection to book 5 as Sean, Nicole's brother, comes to help them find Brandon and support them in this very difficult time.
And during that time, they all get to know Jessica Schilling, who just happens to be the mother to Kyle. You'll find that when we get to book 5, All a Heart Needs, it's about Sean and Jessica.
But before we get there, we get to read a short novella, book 4.5, Nobody but You, where Spencer Harrison gets his story. If you remember he's Max's brother.
Between Now and Forever was poignant and touching.
The dynamics between Nicole and Ryan was moving and memorable. They had lost each other so badly and then came together like they needed to to find their son.
Was this typical of a couple that faces this type of challenge? I don't know, but the author does a good job of describing the levels of emotions that they must have had to go thru when dealing with this.
And we feel it right along with them. It's very much a "true love overcomes all obstacles" kind of feel to it. Even Nicole's behavior or attitude changes completely by the end. Is it realistic? I'd like to think so. Having my child kidnapped would definitely change my perspective and my whole being, no matter the outcome.
I did enjoy this story. I enjoyed watching how Ryan and Nicole both had to be vulnerable and open to finally talk and reach the other.
It was also touching to see the relationship develop between the two boys. Being separated by birth and still being able to connect so deeply is a phenomenon that I don't begin to understand but still love to see.
This is definitely a story worth reading!
Check out the other books in the Callaways Series:
If you liked Falling for a Stranger, you might like: