My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
Ramona Flightner’s Undaunted Love: Part Two (Banished Saga #3.5) is a direct continuation of Part One. This is why my review will also continue from where I left off in Part One. To read what happened before please consider reading my review of Undaunted Love: Part One (click here).
In this part, we find Savannah reconsidering her decision of breaking off with Jeremy with much regret. It seems a couple of months have passed and she’s now certain that if there’s anyone for her, it’s him. Savannah then decides to meet up with Jeremy to ask for forgiveness, to know if he’d take her back or if she’d burned the bridge where they were concerned. Even though a heavily pregnant Florence, who is very protective of her BIL, is rather curt with Savannah, she finds that Jeremy hasn’t far any better than her. It takes a few kisses and making love and they’re reunited. But they also have to accept the reality. Savannah still has no interest in a divorce from Jonas but Jeremy now wants her to move in with him, which would be a difficult task in itself seeing she’s going be termed as a fallen women (of sort) if she does. At Sophia’s advice, Savannah has been thinking about selling her story to the newspaper in hopes that the true story is revealed rather than the mangled up lies. It’s also going to give them some financial leverage. And though her heart wants to agree to Jeremy’s invitation, even if it means they can’t marry as long as Jonas lives, her mind is telling her to think it over. For Jeremy, he’d do just about anything to have her in his life.
Meantime, we find Clarissa travelling to Boston with Colin to attend her father Sean’s funeral. She knew she’d once again have to face her horrid stepmother, Smythe, but that wouldn’t have stopped her. The only regret was that Gabriel couldn’t join her. The day they arrive, they find that the funeral is on its way alrea, thanks to that b!tch who wanted to prevent her step-children from attending any way possible. That doesn’t work, and Colin and Clarissa barely escape a scene at the cemetery. The b!tch is still as venomous as she was before and doesn’t forget to poke and jibe them both, wanting them to feel guilty of their father’s death; as in, Colin and Clarissa left Sean to man the forge all alone. He had to do everything himself and the stress of it caused his heart attack. Of course, it wasn’t true because Smythe was enough to give any man heart attack.
Clarissa finds a home with her long standing elderly suffragette friend, Sophia, with whom Savannah was still living after her split from Jonas. They enjoyed being together once more, trying to remember the good times they spend before life had taken such bumpy roads for them both. Colin joins Savannah’s parents’ home since they weren’t welcome at their own home any longer. It’s then Colin and Clarissa find some negative news regarding the fate of the family forge. It seemed that Smythe, with her greedy ambition for social status and money, has spent almost everything Sean has earned. Now she’s in debt and is going to sell the forge that should be Colin’s by birthright. While confronting the disgusting woman, Colin and Clarissa discover the fate of their youngest, and the only half-sister, Melinda’s sad fate. The child was living in a loveless house where no one showed her a little bit of affection, not even her mother! It broke my heart to see how the baby girl wouldn’t speak out loud as she’d been forcibly trained since birth not to speak up, no thanks to Smythe, when a 2 yrs. old should be laughing and making all sorts of baby noises. This scenario didn’t bode well and Colin and Clarissa decide that they need to do something for Melinda and soon.
At the same time, Clarissa also discovers a wonderful news of her own. Finally, after so many months of wanting and trying, she’s pregnant! She begins catching up with the McLeod brothers Jeremy and Richard, also with Florence. With everyone knowing Savannah and Jeremy’s relationship, it seemed like the best sort of reunion one can hope for. Then Aidan McLeod, Gabriel, Jeremy and Richard’s uncle, joins them in Boston. What more can one hope for? I can tell you that these family scenes with all of them together, were one of the best in this book. The author has that ability to portray these scenes in a very heartwarming way. Thankfully, I was in for more surprised in this part, as Ramona lives up to the challenge of introducing us to the lives of all the important characters involved. She made sure to give everyone a hope in life, even if they thought that their time has come and gone.
For example, I have to talk about Aidan, who has been a secondary character since book 1. He is a man in his mid 50s, basically a loner. He married once but shortly afterwards, his wife died in childbirth. He has been a sailor for a long time before giving up that life, but travelling is in his blood. He travels all over the States for conduct deals for his very successful business. Though the McLeod brothers are not as prosperous, Jeremy and Gabriel being carpenters and Richard a blacksmith, Aidan has made it in life. But the brothers have too much pride and won’t ask for any kind of financial help from their uncle, but not for the lack of trying from Aidan’s part. He has been living on and off in Missoula where Gabriel and Clarissa have now settled. Now that he’s in Boston again, Aidan decides to stay until his grand niece or nephew’s birth as Florence was ready to give birth at any moment. At the same time, seeing how Savannah was suffering the loss of her baby, he decides to step in to help.
Savannah had all but lost hope of finding her baby daughter again who was given away by the a$$hole we know as Jonas, plainly because she wasn’t the son he was expecting. All of Savannah and Jeremy’s search to the orphanages went in vain. When the news reach that Melinda has been given to the closest orphanage by her self-centered mother, she goes in hope to get the child back. But the proprietor of the orphanage, one Mrs. Maidstone, is very cruel to her because of Savannah’s current state of living (without a proper husband, living with a lover). Savannah is hurt beyond measure and somehow makes it to the McLeods’. This is where Aidan takes it up on himself to pay a visit to the woman to see if he his big donation can change her tune. But what he finds blows him right away! It was Delia, his Delia, whom he left years ago, right after his brother Ian burned to death with his wife. When Aidan thought his nephews were dead and he had no one else in the world. He was romantically involved with Delia but circumstances, alongside the grief of losing his family, made things harder for them. They fought and Aidan left, never to return again.
Now facing his past, Aidan feels that he doesn’t want to pass up this opportunity to reacquaint with his old flame, most especially when Delia confirms that there’s no Mr. Maidstone; at least not living any longer. After a gentle scolding from Aidan, and learning the truth behind Savannah’s life, Delia feels ashamed. But we know later on why she was so venomous to Savannah, also to Florence and the rest when they visited the orphanage in search of Savannah’s baby. For now, Delia’s first step in improving the situation was to reunite Melinda with her family. But even if she knew about Savannah’s baby’s whereabouts, she couldn’t divulge it. Jonas had already bullied her with something so that Delia is completely shut about this particular matter.
Though old bitterness rears its head, Aidan doesn’t give up his perusal of Delia. Now that the truth of what happened in those days 16 yrs. ago is out in the open, Aidan wants one last chance at happiness, if Delia would consent to it. The reason behind all of Delia’s reluctance, her lifelong secret, is revealed soon enough when one day, Aidan pays a surprise call, only to find a young woman sitting with Delia. Someone had the astonishing good-looks of the McLeods; tall for a young girl with dark hair and beautiful blue eyes. No one had to explain it to Aidan, his father’s instinct knew that the girl, Zylphia, is his daughter. Delia explains why she couldn’t tell him about their daughter, why she had to assume the identity of a widow... and lastly, we knew how she was bullied by Jonas to keep his daughter’s whereabouts a secret. It was all because Delia didn’t want Zylphia to know she was illegitimate, to bear the brunt of judgment. And now, when Aidan very adamantly states that he wants to know his daughter, Delia isn’t sure what to do. On one hand, he had every right and Delia wanted Zylphia to know her father. Yet, on the other, what if Aidan up and leaves the way he did before? Delia had made peace with life the way it had been. Even if Aidan’s return is tempting her beyond endurance, she must think of Zylphia. She can’t let Aidan make Zylphia’s hopes high, only to be hurt at his abandonment. But a true McLeod, Aidan has loved only once, and now that he’s found her once again, he’s not giving up. Most especially, now that he knows they have a child together, there’s no stopping Aidan. Only he now has to convince them both that he won’t break his promises again. That he won’t hurt the family he’d found after so many years of stark loneliness.
While still in Boston, Clarissa comes face to face with her nightmare once again; the specter of Cameron. Well, not a specter, but the man himself! When everybody else knew he died of that fire in Missoula, now Clarissa knew from his boasting that all were staged. Not only had he boasted of killing a harmless drunkard to stage his death and get away from that ‘back water’ but he indirectly also acknowledged of stealing the money. Poor Sebastian took the brunt of it all and the implication only serves in enraging Clarissa. She, Colin and the rest came up with a plan to set him up too, so that the truth is finally revealed. The plan works fine and Cameron is later arrested for his misdeeds. When Clarissa confides in Gabriel about all these, Cameron’s awaiting trial for murder. That was one character to whom I gladly bid ‘good riddance’ to!
Clarissa was already missing Gabriel too much. Christmas was soon and she promised she’d be home before that. She was also dying to share her wonderful news with him, so she decides to leave Boston. But Colin remains behind and takes over Melinda’s care. By then, to keep the forge among friends, Aidan has bought it from Smythe, with Richard running it. Colin was welcome to help him anytime, so there was that consolation. Gabriel, on the other hand, wasn’t handling Clarissa’s absence well. He was worried sick, and definitely missing her real bad. So when she arrives rather surprisingly, without notice, he’s overjoyed. Then she imparts the news, which they proceed to celebrate in bed... ;) I was so happy to see them finally looking forward to the family they’ve been hoping to create ever since they married. Oh, it was wonderful!
While Savannah and Jeremy begin planning their move together, Delia again imparts news that brings Savannah the most joy she’d had in the past year. It seems her daughter is alive and Delia has requested her adoptive parents to bring her over to meet her mother. That has to be another, most evocative, scenes of the story as Savannah had been looking for little Hope for so long! But knowing recent events, the adoptive parents refuse to give Hope over to Savannah’s care; excuse, her living outside of marriage is going to make Hope the center of negative attentions. Though Savannah is again heartbroken over the whole matter, she soldiers on. Besides, Hope is more attached to her adoptive parents by now, so anything to make sure her little girl is happy. At the same time, Savannah and Jeremy also begin considering moving to Missoula to live close to Gabriel and Clarissa. Living in Boston was becoming even more difficult, so that seemed like a good solution.
As they were considering their options, there’s the most unexpected development! Jonas, in another of his hate-filled rage, bursts into Savanna’s parents’ home. What was supposed to be a Christmas celebration, however reluctant, turns into a bloody day for Savannah and her family. Nothing help Jonas calm down as he demands over and over again for Savannah to go with him, also threatens the family. A scuffle ensues and in his clumsiness, Jonas injures Savannah’s father Martin and elder brother, Lucas. To save her family, Savannah does the unthinkable. She stabs him with a letter opener in self defense. After that, chaos ensues, with Lucas fighting for his life and Savannah behind bars. Though Jonas’ ignominious departure from her life should’ve made Savannah feel relieved, she has no idea what the hell just happened. But thanks to Sophia and her expert and reliable lawyer, they manage to free Savannah citing self-defense.
Though Savannah was finally free on one nightmare, another becomes reality. She wouldn’t have ever imagined the pain life would deal her with the next. I wasn’t ready for it myself and it simply broke my heart. Hope’s adoptive father stops by to give Savannah the devastating news of her little girl’s demise in typhoid. She was doing sickly for a while but Savannah was looking forward to see her when she recovered a bit. But that wasn’t meant to be. I was in tears thinking why little Hope was even introduced in the story, making us all hope for a grand reunion between the mother and the daughter, then taken away so quickly. It was simply.......... I can’t even tell you how sad I felt. :’( Before that, Savannah was hoping to convince these people to move to Missoula with Hope so that they can all have something to contribute in her upbringing. Now, nothing can keep Savannah here. Boston always seemed to be causing too many bad memories, bringing too much pain. Making sure that Martin and Lucas are going to be fine, at last, Savannah and Jeremy begin their journey to Missoula. They hope to marry there in the presence of Gabriel and Clarissa. They’re already aware of Aidan’s relationship with Delia, and the existence of Zylphia. The McLeods have welcomed their uncle’s family with open arms. Aidan also decides to remain behind but offers his home in Missoula to Savannah and Jeremy.
In Missoula, it’s been quite a few months and Clarissa is expecting to give birth any day now. It’s then, the letter with the news of Savannah-Jeremy’s arrival catches them by surprise. There was a lot to catch up on since Gabriel and Clarissa weren’t aware of what was happening in Boston since she left. When Savannah-Jeremy finally reach there, what felt most rewarding to me, was Gabriel meeting his youngest brother after 5 long years. Even though I’m yet to see all the brothers together, this felt close to solace.
I mentioned of Amelia and Sebastian’s love story in Part One. They certainly didn’t have it easy, much like the other couples of the story. After Cameron’s arrest, Sebastian may have gotten back his good name but his job was already taken, which is why he was being sent off to a different place, as a foreman to another mill. Sebastian is looking forward to the challenges of a new place but he doesn’t wanna leave Amelia and the children. Amongst all the heartache, they only have hope of a future together to guide them through. It’s my ardent wish that they find happiness when they’re finally together.
The story ends on the beautiful note of a bright future for our original couple Gabriel and Clarissa, when Rissa gives birth to a baby girl. The whole scene simply brought tears to my eyes. I felt like a friend witnessing their triumph. A friend who has accompanied them to their journey, watching them come this far after weathering so many hurdles. You can’t even imagine how good it felt!
I can tell you that by the time you finish all the installments of the Banished Saga, you’d feel just like me. I love this series and the characters that we’ve been introduced to throughout (with the exception of a few). It truly does feel that you become a friend and a member of the clan, accompanying them as they journey in search of love and happiness. When I started this series, I didn’t know what to expect but Ramona has exceeded my expectations. I’m extremely happy to learn that the series continues on with another book on the way. Personally, I’d be heartbroken to see it end because I’m not ready to let go just yet. 4.5 stars.
PS: I found this pleasant surprise on the acknowledgement page of Undaunted Love. I feel honored to have supported your writing so far Ramona! It was no tough job, trust me... and thank you. :)
I received a review copy of Undaunted Love from the author in exchange of an honest review and I'd like to thank her for it.