I have been eager to try Harlequin’s new NEXT line of “relationship novels” regarding women and where their lives will “go next.” In Come October, Claire Sherman is a happy woman who has been raised by her beloved (and wealthy) Uncle Richard since the age of twelve, after Claire’s parents died in an accident
and left Claire with no family except her uncle, with whom she is extremely close.
Claire finds romantic love after meeting Tucker (“Tuck”) Sutherland at a work convention one evening. Claire and Tuck immediately hit it off, and they share common interests – a love of participating in sports, reading, a desire for several children. Within six weeks, the two are engaged to be married, and Claire’s future has never looked brighter.
When Tuck bids a temporary goodbye to Claire as he boards a plane for a retreat to Nepal, lives change forever when Claire is in a horrific car accident on her way home from the airport. Claire’s injuries are significant, if not devastating. Her appearance has radically changed and her mobility is greatly reduced due to her injuries. After emerging from surgery and the brink of death, Claire receives the worst news of all from her doctors – in order to save her life, the surgeons had to perform a hysterectomy. Claire falls into a deep depression; her dreams of having children with Tuck are dashed forever.
Claire’s devastation over her injuries and the fact that she will never have children lead her to form a plan with the reluctant consent of her Uncle Richard, who agrees to help her. Claire and Uncle Richard “fake” Claire’s death, enabling Claire to assume a new identity, and the two move to a small Californian town where Claire can lead a quiet life with her uncle. Tuck returns from Nepal to learn that Claire, his soulmate, is dead and gone forever from his life. Tuck unsuccessfully attempts to move on from his loss over the years, but he still pines for Claire.
The main characters form new relationships – Claire in the new town she calls home, and Tuck in his brave attempts to move on in life. Come October explores issues of love, loss, disability, family and betrayal, and the main characters have to come to terms with Claire’s decision to permanently alter her life and Tuck’s when she makes that fateful decision to stage her death. I highly recommend Come October; author Patricia Kay does a fantastic job pacing the novel, which was suspenseful, engrossing and filled with heartwarming characters. I look forward to reading more in Harlequin’s new NEXT line.