The Last Days of Autumn by Donna K Ford is a heartwarming romance about living in the moment and choosing love over fear.
Autumn Landers is a successful landscape designer with her own thriving business. Between her company and her friends, she’s content with her life until one little word – cancer, changes everything. Rather than depend on her demanding and critical mother for support, she decides to hire a companion to help her through the surgery and the lengthy chemotherapy treatment.
Caroline Cross answers Autumn’s ad for a live-in caregiver and they instantly hit it off. Caroline’s newly divorced, and she recently lost her mother to cancer. Helping Autumn brings up emotions she still hasn’t fully addressed so she’s not in a place to risk her heart.
As the two women grow closer, they are reticent to begin a relationship complicated by Autumn’s life-altering illness. Neither one of them has had much success with love, but they can’t deny their feelings. Can Autumn and Caroline set their fears aside and choose to face an uncertain future together?
Both Autumn and Caroline are likeable, relatable characters. Autumn isn’t used to asking people for help. She’s always been the rock that her friends have relied on. But contrary to that strength is her inability to completely shake the emotional hold her mother still has on her. She’s let her mother’s narrow opinions keep her from committing to loving relationships in the past. Her cancer diagnosis forces her to reevaluate all the choices she’s made in her life and as a result she’s willing to change how she approaches life.
Caroline is at a crossroads in her life when the book opens. She’s been separated from her wife for a year and has filed for divorce. She’s been deeply betrayed, but with that betrayal comes clarity. She’s been drifting for a year and isn’t sure where she’s going to land so when she see’s Autumn’s ad for a caregiver it seems like the perfect situation. Helping Autumn through her surgery and chemotherapy allows her to finally experience the feelings over her mother’s death that she’s spent years running from.
The Writing Style
From the first page, I felt at home in The Last Days of Autumn. It’s told from both women’s point of view, so I got to see how each of them was dealing with Autumn’s diagnosis and the reticence they felt over becoming too close. Ford makes their falling in love feel 100% authentic with intimate and honest dialogue. She also does a great job in tackling a difficult subject. A romance involving a woman battling cancer seems like it would be a heavy read. The story shows Autumn’s fear and feelings of powerlessness as well as the physical side effects of her surgery and chemotherapy. It also shows the very sweet and uplifting love that blossoms between Autumn and Caroline. This makes for a perfect balance.
I’m always up for a good villain and Autumn’s mother, Meredith is a doozy. She’s cold and controlling. Ford did a wonderful job bringing her to life in all her vile glory with perfectly timed, passive aggressive behavior and outright mean tirades. Parents often make colorful baddies in romances, and Meredith is certainly topnotch.
Autumn is at the end of six months of chemotherapy. She’s extremely tired most of the time with little energy. The long nights of passionate love making between Caroline and Autumn felt off to me. It didn’t keep me from enjoying the story, but it did make me think, “Hmmm.”
The Last Days of Autumn is a lovely romance with a low level of angst. Normally I want boat loads of drama in the love stories I read but, in this instance, sweet, charming, and intimate felt just right. The tentative first steps Autumn and Caroline take when they realize there is something more to their relationship than just caregiver and patient are delightful. The vulnerability and honesty they bring to their relationship warmed my heart. The sexual tension is palpable, and I’ll admit I shed a few tears here and there. This is the first book I’ve read by Ford and it won’t be the last.
Excerpt from The Last Days of Autumn by Donna K Ford
Oh, Autumn. “Here. Let me.” Caroline reached for Autumn’s hand, slowly pulling the brush from her fingers. She crawled onto the bed, sitting at Autumn’s back. She gathered Autumn’s hair into her left hand and began long gentle strokes with the brush. Normally, she would run from these feelings of pain that struck her each time she saw the flash of fear in Autumn’s eyes. But this time, she had the overwhelming desire to be closer to Autumn. From the first day they had met, she had been taken by Autumn’s willingness to face her vulnerability. Everything else Caroline had seen about Autumn said that she rarely let anyone see her need, her fear, or her pain. To have Autumn so openly allow her access to those most guarded emotions made Caroline even more determined to protect her.
Caroline stilled her breath as Autumn leaned her head back into Caroline’s hands. Her fingers brushed the tender skin of Autumn’s neck, sending pleasant tingles through her fingers. Caroline loved the way Autumn allowed her to comfort her. She loved the look of tranquility that passed across Autumn’s face as Caroline’s fingers ran through her hair. Caroline watched the tiny lines around Autumn’s eyes lessen, her breathing slow, and the faint hint of a smile crease her lips. Caroline hoped that each stroke of her hand would chase away all thoughts of poison, cancer, and sickness.
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Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 9781635556728
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
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