He wasn’t looking to love again. But what he got was a woman who shook his lonely bitter world upside down, and touched him in a way no other woman could.
Emily Nelson, a courageous young mother, ends a loveless bitter marriage and strikes out on her own. She answers an ad as a cook and live in caregiver to a three-year-old boy on a local ranch. Ranch owner Brad Friessen hires and moves in Emily and her daughter. But Emily soon discovers something’s seriously wrong with his boy. And the reclusive difficult man that hired her, can’t see the behavior and how delayed his son is. So Emily researches, until she stumbles across what she suspects is the soft signs of autism. Now she must tell him. Give him hope, and help him come to terms with this neurological disorder—to take the necessary steps to get his child the help he needs.
As their lives become intertwined, it’s unavoidable the attraction—the connection that sparks between them. And just as they’re getting close, Brad's estranged wife Crystal returns after abandoning them two years earlier. In amongst the shock and confusion there’s one disturbing fact Brad can’t shake. How does she know so much of his personal business, the inner working of the ranch and Emily's relationship with his son?
Crystal must’ve had a plan as she somehow gains the upper hand, driving a wedge in the emotional bond forged between Brad, Emily and the children. The primary focus for care and therapy of three-year-old Trevor is diverted. The lengths Crystal will go—the lies—the greed, just to keep what’s hers are nothing short of cold and calculating. Emily’s forced out of the house. Brad fights to save his boy—to protect what’s his. And struggles over his greatest sacrifice—Emily, and the haunting question—has he ultimately lost her forever?
There is no slow beginning to The Forgotten Child, no "happy opening scene" in which the characters are blissfully unaware that their lives are about to come crashing down. No, this book begins right as a marriage is ending.
Emily Nelson is a brave, intelligent and loving human being who is entering a difficult phase in her life. She's just ended her marriage and now has to find a job in order to support herself and her daughter Katy.
Like all women who find themselves suddenly single with no job and young child to raise, Emily has moments of bone deep fear that she'll fail and her child will pay the price. She's such a well written character, and so real because let's face it, Emily represents every single mother in the world and every single mother in the world has a bit of Emily inside her.
That's what makes Emily such a strong and realistic character that I empathized with. Never having been a single mother, I was and still am the child of one and I was reminded of my own mother and her fears and anxiety when she too, left a bad marriage.
The Forgotten Child is so well written and so realistic that I felt like I was watching a very accurate, heart breaking documentary on divorce, autism and the hardships people face with both.
But let's not forget the romance! The light at the end of the tunnel! From the moment Emily and Brad meet there's sparks, even though Emily is a total klutz (come on, if your fantasy man opened the door you were knocking on, you'd be too).
What I loved about the romance between these two is that, as much as they wanted each other, they always put their kids first. I know, in the real world that's not always true but in this book it was and that was really great to read. As if trying to make a budding relationship work amid the chaos of single parenting wasn't enough, Brad's sneaky, manipulative ex, Crystal shows up and has Emily fired. From there both Brad and Emily need to work on what they want individually and together in order to have a chance of having a happy life together with their children.
As dramatic as it sounds, Lorhainne Eckhart did a fabulous job at making this plot work. Crystal is one of those characters that you love to hate. She's just so sneaky and has a round about way of making trouble that's so hard to prove, but you know what everyone says, the hero is only as good as the villain is bad. It's easy to love the heroes of a story, with their good intentions and poor executions, but it's a great writer who can take readers to the edge and back with a villain and that's what Lorhainne does with Crystal. Crystal, catty and sneaky woman she is, made me so mad at times! It's like watching a movie where you know what's going to happen and you're shouting at the hero "No! Don't do that, it's what she wants! You're playing into her plan you idiot!!" Never fear, the conflict doesn't drag on or get ridiculous at any time. It's done in a timely manner.
However, what I found really important about The Forgotten Child was none of the above, it was the attention Lorhainne Eckhart brought to autism. I've read only one other romance novel where I suspected the hero had autism (The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley) but this was different. There was more focus on Brad's son Trevor and how his condition affected everyone involved. This was a young child who's condition went unacknowledged until Emily walked into his life. Lorhainne Eckhart gave detailed accounts of Trevor's outbursts and wrote them in such a way as to make me feel the same frustration and confusion that Emily did. It is only a small glimpse into the world of an autistic child and those who live, work, take care of and love them.
Even though more and more children are being diagnosed with autism, it is still a mystery to many people, myself included. If you have never met a child with autism then it can be a very unnerving experience, but remember to be patient and as understanding as possible.
I didn't expect I'd fall for the four main characters as hard as I did, but The Forgotten Child is an amazing book, not just for a romance fan like myself, but for single parents who may or may not have a child with autism. It left me with a smile on my face but a small ache in my heart for all the Emily's and Brad's out there who don't always find each other. Overall a very sweet story that I could easily see as a movie one day.
Buy The Forgotten Child by Lorhainne Eckhart