My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts...
Resilient Love, book 7 of Ramona Flightner’s epic Banished Saga, is quite aptly titled as we find our favorite characters going through ups and downs like any normal couple will, weathering incidents bound to test their love for each-other. This is one of the more unique attributes of this Saga, that the story of a couple isn’t finished with the HEA. As we find new things to appreciate in this series, the Saga continues as it should showcasing their lives with all its glory, as well as its difficulties.
The Banished Saga, when it began, was onset of suffragist movement of Boston 1901. Along the way we met many characters, including our favorite, the first couple of the series Clarissa and Gabriel in Banished Love. Their story was ongoing in books 2 and 3, Reclaimed Love and Undaunted Love. They still make appearances in the latest installments. We also met Clarissa and Gabriel’s family. Clarissa’s own brothers Colin, and Patrick who wasn’t introduced until much later. Her cousin Savannah and best friend Florence, both avid suffragettes and worked with Clarissa throughout. Gabriel’s younger brothers Richard and Jeremy were also introduced, as was their long lost uncle Aidan.
The story started to veer away from the original couples when it jumped 10 years in book 4, Tenacious Love. The spotlight had shifted onto the second generations of McLeod/Sullivans. New characters and couples their contemporary were introduced. By then Clarissa-Gabriel, Savannah-Jeremy, Richard-Florence were married with children. Aidan had his long lost love Delia back in his life, bonus with a daughter, Zylphia whom he didn’t know existed (he was a sailor and had not been around Boston for years). Each had come through a long, arduous journey to find their own standing in life and the men or women they loved. I’ve been a fan and had loved every single moment of it because it always felt like I’m a friend, and not just a spectator of their lives.
There were new developments as well. One of Zylphia’s friends, Parthena, a budding suffragist against her family’s wishes, gets entangled with Savannah’s younger brother Lucas. Lucas had also been a part of this series for long, since he was a young man. Now in his mid 30s, he’d garnered a much deserved successful career in music. He’s a maestro pianist and people simply adore him. Everyone in his family supported him in his endeavor, except for his mother, who was extremely conservative and thrived on being a blight on others’ lives. There was nothing important in her life other than her social status. She had already tried to sacrifice her own daughter to that status. Savannah escaped with her life intact in the nick of time (it’s a story you will find in book 3 and you wouldn’t wanna miss it). And now, Lucas was another disappointment to her, which she never failed to vocalize IF ever Lucas visited his parents. Their father, Martin, however was polite and had always been by his children’s side.
Lucas and Parthena’s budding relationship didn’t go very far as Parthena’s mean father married her off (sold her to be precise) to another man; someone with money and influence, Morgan Wheeler. Even though Parthena hated Morgan and didn’t wanna be married, she didn’t wanna marry Lucas either. I understood some of her dilemma. She had 3 younger sisters and knew one of them would be sacrificed if she doesn’t marry Morgan as her father was desperate for money. But I also felt that she wasn’t as ‘in love’ with Lucas as he was with her. Besides, it didn’t take Morgan much to convince her of his own affection after a confession of harboring a secret tendré for her for a long time. It kinda proved my point of her not having any strong feelings for Lucas. Needless to say, I wasn’t much fond of her, but I’d give it that she loved her sisters. All these can be found in books 4, as well as 5, Unrelenting Love.
In the middle of the series, Clarissa’s long absent brother Patrick returns to his family all of a sudden. His reunion with his brother and sister was quite emotional to behold. As the story progressed, we learned of how his life has been thus far. We read about his life at present and his tendré for a woman he worked with, named Fiona. When Fiona is abused by one of the owners of the company they worked at, and left to pick up the pieces of her life, Patrick steps in with an offer of marriage. Fiona was suffering from a form of PTSD and their married life was no bed of roses. In fact, after having a child, result of that abuse, Fiona simply started disappearing inside herself, not letting Patrick have any part of her. He accepted it all knowing what she’d suffered, yet secretly couldn’t help hoping that she’d have a change of heart someday. This was one of those relationships where you simply feel awful for the couple knowing life can sometimes be extremely unfair to those who don’t deserve any of it. Both Patrick and Fiona wanted each-other for so long, yet now married that dream of togetherness remained elusive.
Book 6, Escape to Love is the story of Lucas and Genevieve, Parthena’s younger sister whom Lucas sort of rescued from a horrible marriage. Parthena was destined to marry the same lecher that their father later tried to foist on Genevieve. They escape to Butte to be off the reach of her father. Helping her was so instinctual for Lucas, who had seen Savannah’s suffering first hand. He always felt guilty of not being helpful when she needed it. Since I knew of Lucas and Parthena’s relationship, TBH I was in doubt of this whole thing. There was a bit of an ick-factor for me too. However, Ramona proved her mastery by giving us a sweet story where Lucas needed to find himself and with Genevieve’s help, he finally did. Genevieve needed to know she’s wanted, and Lucas made certain that she knew. There were many emotions at play but all was worth it.
I needed to recap because now, by book 7, the Saga mainly revolves the lives of the characters we’ve met along the way, rarely introducing anyone new. But I’m not complaining at all as I love any and all updates of their lives. We revisit all our friends in Butte (Patrick/Fiona and Lucas/Genevieve), in Missoula (Gabriel/Clarissa, Jeremy/Savannah, Collin, Arminta, Melinda... the list goes on) again in this installment. In Boston, we get a visit from Zylphia and Teddy, Parthena and Morgan. I like how each installment gives emphasis on one set of couple(s) and the happenings of their lives, surrounding it all with glimpses of other the characters. Then again, they’re all related to each-other one way or the other. Resilient Love is more of an update of all of their lives than anything else.
We already knew Zylphia and Teddy’s relationship wasn’t a smooth sailing from the beginning. More than a few times, Zylphia had almost botched everything with her rash behavior and extreme stubbornness because Teddy could’ve been lost to her, first by her rudeness which made him leave her alone and second, because of the war when he joined the Army to get himself away from Zylphia. He was declared MIA for quite a long time. I thought she’d come to realize her foolishness, accepting that Teddy, her best friend, was also the love of her life. Unfortunately, it seemed like she hasn’t learned much from those experiences. Now, within 2yrs. of their marriage, we find her doing it again. But then, you read about her passion for Women’s suffrage, their freedom to express themselves as they wish, and last but not the least, their right to vote and you can’t but also try to understand her stance on the whole thing. It was such a big dilemma for her that even with Teddy’s full support things were becoming shakier between them each day for her cause took over her life. The more involved she became, the more Zylphia started ignoring their marriage, with no time for Teddy at all. You can only guess the inevitable. :(
Ramona, once again, quite admirably incorporated historical aspects into the story. When she married Teddy, who is a British citizen, Zylphia didn’t know she was going to lose her own American citizenship (explained in Author’s Note). But because of a certain law, she does. And that is what initiates the latest discord in their already tumultuous relationship. She wanted Teddy to become an American citizen but he had no interest in it. And it went on and on and on....... until finally, Zylphia ended up doing something she late badly regretted. Her very active stance with the other Suffragettes lands her in jail, then a workhouse. The condition of the place, alongside the hunger strike initiated by the women, causes her to lose her baby. I was so scared that this latest rift between her and Teddy can’t be repaired at all but thankfully, true love comes to the rescue. I’m still waiting to see where it goes and how Zylphia works to regain Teddy’s trust.
Meanwhile, Parthena and Morgan’s own turbulent relationship comes to a happy ending. She also had gotten caught up with Zylphia’s suffragette activities, then was taken to the same workhouse. Her stay there made her realized what a charmed life she has been living so far. Parthena realized just how many things she’d taken for granted, including Morgan’s feelings for her. Despite everything, when she thought of being with someone, it wasn’t Lucas that came to her mind, but her own husband. I could tell you these two were long overdue for a much needed ‘talk’. Parthena’s ordeal revealed Morgan’s softer side, which he liked to hide away under his tough exterior. And when that ‘talk’ finally happened, there was no turning back for them. I was quite glad TBH. Even if I wasn’t initially fond of Parthena, I think she may have redeemed herself. :) I just hope their marital harmony remains the same when they visit Lucas and Genevieve in Butte soon.
At another part of the story, Patrick and Fiona’s relationship wasn’t improving. It was as distant as ever and I was beginning to despair for them. Fiona couldn’t overcome her fear of men completely. Though she felt relatively comforted by Patrick’s presence, she couldn’t relax as the perpetrator of her own misery was still around. And he was a wealthy, powerful man who had set his mind on making her miserable too, having an eye on their daughter whom Fiona named Rose and Patrick loved as his own.
Then the break comes, when after a terrible mining accident, Patrick is called away to work as one of the “helmet men”, volunteers who went down in that precarious condition to bring out the survivors, then the dead. The possibility of losing him finally shocks Fiona out of her blank state of mind. She started feeling again, knowing quite clearly that without Patrick she’d have no life to speak of. And it’s not just because he takes care of her and Rose but because she can’t go on without him. I was the happiest to see them coming together, trying to mend whatever damage the distance wrought between them and finally, living a full married life.
However, that fragile marital bliss will be shaken by the arrival of Colin with a most disturbing revelation. Their step-mother, the author of many of their miserable memories before and after their father’s passing, Mrs. Smythe is back. And this time, she’s in Missoula doing what she does best; trying to rile up old ghosts to cause pain to her step-children’s lives once again. This time she’s got an even more fantastical claim that she could ever come up with. This twist in the story rather threw me off guard. It also finally revealed to us the reason behind Patrick’s sudden fall from the grace and banishment from his own home. Previously I had thought he left cause he had a rift with his father. It was all correct but not for any of the reasons I might’ve associated it with. I won’t reveal what it is, but Patrick and Fiona had to travel to Missoula to deal with Mrs. Smythe’s latest shenanigan.
In Missoula, it was another chaos, something that needed the families to come together, and stand against Mrs. Smythe to show her that despite her regular assaults on them, the McLeod/Sullivan family will not break under her pressure. They won’t be defeated by her Machiavellian plans concocted with various other people who wanted to bring discord their lives.
I was a bit disappointed not seeing the unfolding of Colin and Araminta’s relationship. She is being courted by someone else and I can’t say I hate that guy so I’m not sure where this is going. But no matter what it is, I always eagerly await for another installment of the Banished Saga and the next one won’t be any different. Ramona promised at least 2 more installments until the Saga is at an end. I can only thank the Lord for that because I will really miss it and the characters. 4.25 stars and highly recommended. Also recommended that you read the Saga in order to get the most out it.
Review copy received from the author in exchange of an honest review, thanks Ramona! x