"School issues and a lonely single mother combine in this romance"
Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted March 26, 2015
Romance | Serial
The town of Gauthier, Louisiana is home to this series
called 'Bayou Dreams' with some continuing characters but
each book is a standalone. The town's school is examined
this lively and warm-hearted tale FOREVER WITH YOU.
Leslie Kirkland has two little girls whom she's raising
alone since her soldier husband died. She doesn't have
to get roped into community projects at the Baptist
putting in an appearance at the social hour for
sake. This time the good ladies have another topic in mind
though - they introduce her to Sawyer Robertson, having
first emphasised to her that he comes from good people and
he's divorced. Poor Sawyer doesn't want to be railroaded
into a date either, having recently returned to live in
town and with a new job. He wouldn't be disappointed if
lovely Leslie accepted his dinner invitation, on the other
hand, but she has the girls to consider, financial analyst
work, and no time.
I liked the school science class and the SmartBoard - the
teacher can email the homework assignment direct to the
parents. Gabriel Franklin, teaching this class, knows
Leslie already. She's on the Parents' Board. Gabe, a new
man in town, is currently the interim assistant principal,
and this dedicated teacher wants the promotion
permanently. He's going to need the support of the Board,
and asking Leslie out would not be smart, much as he wants
to. Then small-town politics arise, with a proposed merger
of two schools, and Gabe needs Leslie's backing more than
ever. Which is why it's a pity that the two of them have
just silently realised their mutual crush exists. How
inappropriate would that be?
I enjoyed visiting Gauthier and the atmospheric setting,
with lavender tea, pecan pie and jazz evenings. The
is changeable and the folks are respectable. Leslie's job
sounds high-powered, but she still hates the commute and
getting stuck behind school buses or tractors. With two
interesting single men in town, this lone parent has her
hands full. However, first she has to work through major
issues of her own, making her a rounded character and all
the more admirable. FOREVER WITH YOU is the latest book by
Farrah Rochon who loves featuring her fictional town. This
is a short adult romance novel with lots of heart, and
hot behaviour inappropriate on school grounds, I warn you.
New life. New love?
The tranquil bayou town of Gauthier is the perfect place
for widowed single mother Leslie Kirkland to raise her
daughters. Until she's elected president of the
school's Parent-Teacher Organization. Caught in a clash
between the community and progressive science-teacher-
turned-assistant-principal Gabriel Franklin, Leslie vows
not to take sides. But it's hard to be objective when a
sexy younger man is awakening such an irresistible
Years ago, a teacher saved Gabriel from a one-way path to
destruction, and now he is dedicated to his students and
the Louisiana town he calls home. But the chemistry
sizzling between him and Leslie could ignite a scandal.
And when the gathering firestorm threatens both their
dreams, Gabe is ready to take a stand. Can he convince
Leslie that it's time to move on and make a bright
The frenetic whir of post-Sunday service gossip floating through the Mop & Glo-
scented air of the New Hope Baptist Church hall intensified the throbbing behind
Leslie Kirkland’s eyes. She slid into a cubby between the water cooler and a
multitiered plant stand, her cheeks demanding a respite from the constant
smiling at well-meaning church members determined to impart their gratitude for
her singing at this morning’s service.
Leslie took a sip of lukewarm fruit punch, the drink of choice during the
church’s fellowship hour, and glanced at her watch. She was counting down the
seconds until she and her girls could leave without garnering judgmental stares
from the deaconesses who considered the fellowship hour sacred. She’d faced her
share of raised penciled-in eyebrows when she walked into the sanctuary this
morning after being absent the past two weekends. That was more than enough
censure for one day, thank you very much.
“Leslie Kirkland, I swear you are an angel sent down from heaven.”
Frustration at being discovered tightened the skin around her mouth, but her
expression softened when she saw it was Nathan Robottom, owner of the hardware
store in Gauthier, the tiny dot on the Louisiana map that Leslie had called home
for more than a decade.
Nathan clasped her hands between his roughened palms and gave them a gentle
squeeze. “That solo this morning was the loveliest thing I’ve heard since the
last time you sang a solo in church.”
“That’s so nice of you to say, Mr. Nathan,” Leslie said, her lips stretching
into a genuine smile. It was impossible not to love this old man. “How is Ms.
Penelope? I noticed she didn’t join you this morning. I hope everything is
“Aw, she’s fine,” he said, waving off Leslie’s concern. “Her gout flared up and
she didn’t want to come limpin’ in the church. She’ll be sorry she missed your
pretty singing.” He gave her hands a good-natured pat before heading to the
other side of the church hall where day-old doughnuts were doled out after
Leslie glanced at her watch again and decided that twenty minutes of
fellowshipping should more than satisfy the deaconesses. She left her safe cubby
in search of Kristi and Cassidy. Based on the trouble her daughters had given
her when she’d woke them for church this morning, they should have been
scratching at the doors to leave. As usual, they’d met up with friends and now
she had to play Find the Kirkland Sisters.
As her eyes roamed the crowded hall, Leslie spotted Clementine Washington and
Claudette Robinson sitting at the church ministries sign-up table. She averted
her gaze, trying not to make eye contact, but she wasn’t quick enough. The Two
Cs rose from the table simultaneously and started straight for her.
What would happen if she made a run for it? Just dashed right through the doors?
“Leslie!” Claudette called, waving her arms to get her attention.
“Ms. Clementine. Ms. Claudette,” Leslie greeted with as much enthusiasm as she
could muster. “How are you two doing this morning?” Please don’t ask me to join
the Ladies’ Auxiliary. “I hope you’re both doing well.”
“Oh, yes. And especially after hearing you sing,” Claudette said. “Girl, I know
the spirit was moving in you.”
“Amen,” Clementine added.
“Thank you.” She smiled. Leslie just knew her cheek muscles were on the verge of
staging a revolt after the workout she’d put them through today. “Well,” she
said, clamping her hands in front of her. “I really need to find my girls. We
have plans for this afternoon.”
“Oh, I’m sure they’re out there with the youth ministry,” Claudette said.
“Marsha and Lewis Marcel donated popsicles for the little ones.” She slid a step
closer to Leslie and leaned toward her, “And speaking of people who live out on
Confusion tugged at the corners of Leslie’s mouth. Huh?
“Did you notice the way Sawyer Robertson was looking at you while you sang this
morning?” Clementine asked.
Leslie couldn’t prevent her eye roll even if the Eye Roll Prevention Wizard had
granted her special powers. And her eyes were rolling. Hard.
She should have known these two had something much more intrusive up their
sleeves to ask her than joining the Ladies’ Auxiliary. In the month since Sawyer
Robertson had moved into the charming colonial on Willow Street—only a few
streets from where she lived in the residential area of downtown Gauthier—Leslie
had encountered no less than a dozen people who were all too eager to make
According to the gossip she’d overheard while browsing the produce section at
the supermarket last week, the handsome divorcee, who had left Gauthier about
three years ago, had just started a job with the state, though the gossipers had
not been sure in what capacity. He hailed from one of Gauthier’s more prominent
families, and both of the ladies had agreed that he probably didn’t have to work
if he didn’t want to.
Despite the town’s small size, Leslie had never had much interaction with Sawyer
in the years before he’d hightailed it out of Gauthier. She hadn’t seen him much
in the month since he’d returned either, though she sure had heard his name
“Sawyer comes from good people,” Claudette said. “Rich as sin, but not uppity.”
“Nope, never was uppity,” Clementine agreed. “I went to high school with his
momma, Cheryl Ann. Cancer took her a while back.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that,” Leslie said. “Didn’t his father die of cancer, too?”
She knew at least that much about him.
Clementine nodded. “Sawyer took care of Earl until he passed, then he sold the
house, married that girl from New Orleans and moved somewhere up north.”
Clementine clucked her tongue. “Don’t know what happened, but that marriage sure
didn’t last long.”
“You know what I heard,” Claudette started.
Leslie held up her hand. “This really isn’t the place for that, is it? And I
should really go—”
Claudette’s face brightened. “Well, speak of the devil.
Leslie turned and just barely held in her groan at the sight of Eloise Dubois—
another pillar of the church—and Sawyer Robertson walking toward them. Sawyer
looked as though he’d been hit by a hurricane.
Or three very determined deaconesses.
“Look who I found in the parking lot,” Eloise said.
“Why, Sawyer, you remember Leslie Kirkland, don’t you?” Clementine asked in the
most pathetic attempt at subtly known to mankind.
If only the floor could open up and swallow me…
Or, better yet, let it swallow up the deaconesses.
Leslie hid her frustration behind a smile as she stuck out her hand. “Nice to
see you again, Sawyer.”
The shimmer of understanding that flashed in his eyes put Leslie at ease. He
sympathized. Of course he sympathized. They were in the same boat, being thrust
together by a community of meddlesome, though well-meaning, people.
“It’s nice to see you, as well,” he said.
So, he had a really nice voice. And strong, yet soft hands. He wasn’t bad on the
eyes, either. His smooth dark skin was practically flawless, and those obsidian
eyes practically dared you to look away from him.
But a pretty face had never been a selling point for her.
“I was sorry to hear about Braylon,” he said. “All of Gauthier was proud of him
when he joined the military. He served our country well.”
Leslie nodded and smiled. The old nod and smile had become her rote response
whenever talk veered in the vicinity of her deceased husband.
“I really enjoyed your singing this morning,” Sawyer added, his tone lighter.
“It’s been a long time since I stepped foot in a church. Your voice was a lovely
He had that charm thing down pat. She was a sucker for a charmer, but still, no
“Thank you,” Leslie said with another polite smile.
He shifted from one foot to the other. So did she. The awkwardness was so
tangible that Reverend Allan would demand it add money to the collection plate
if it hung around much longer.
Of course, it was hard not to notice the palpable awkwardness when the
conversations around them had all but ceased, making it painfully obvious that
she and Sawyer were the focus of every eye in the church hall.
Where in the heck were her daughters? She needed rescuing from this charming,
handsome man before the dozens of people watching them—all of them failing
miserably at being covert—got the wrong impression. Leslie knew that if even one
person thought there was a spark between her and Sawyer the sweet, well-
intentioned matriarchs of Gauthier would wage an all-out campaign to get the two
of them together.
Why couldn’t the people in this town mind their own damn business?
It was as if a green light had been turned on the day after the first
anniversary of Braylon’s death. Once the acceptable grieving period had passed,
all of Gauthier had been on a quest to find her a man, as if she was on the
verge of collapsing from loneliness if she wasn’t paired with someone soon.
Because, of course, she had all the time in the world to be lonely.
She was a single working mother with two daughters determined to take part in
every extracurricular activity they could sign up for, and a full-time job that
demanded more from her than she had to give. She barely had time to breathe.
But that didn’t stop the fine people of Gauthier from foisting their single
friends and relatives on her.
Sawyer Robertson was just one in a passel of men who had been paraded before
her, all of them the perfect man to help her raise her poor little fatherless
daughters. But Sawyer had proven to be more dangerous than any of the other men
thus far. She had been introduced to her share of visiting nephews or friends of
a friend of a friend, but the full court press she’d faced since Sawyer’s return
And unlike the visiting nephews, Sawyer wasn’t just passing through town. He was
in Gauthier to stay. In a house just a few blocks from hers. All of Gauthier was
determined to see this love connection happen.
This town! These nosy, prying people! She needed a break from it all.
“Mommy!” Kristi, her youngest, who had just turned five and was no longer her
little baby, came running up to Leslie, the front of her white dress stained
with purple popsicle juice. “Mommy, are we still putting the swinging bed in the
backyard after church?”
“Yes, we are!” And Kristi would get extra dessert for rescuing her from this
painful situation. “Why don’t you get your sister so we can leave?” Leslie
turned to Sawyer and explained, “It’s a hammock. I promised the girls we would
finally hang it today. “
“Sounds like a lovely way to spend a lazy afternoon.”
Yeah, that smile was really nice. There was no way to deny it.
“Do you need any help hanging the hammock?” he asked.
“Oh, no,” Leslie said quickly. “The instructions are pretty straightforward. My
girls and I can handle it.”
A perfectly shaped brow arched before he asked, “Are you sure? I wouldn’t mind
coming over to help.”
Leslie heard an excited gasp come from somewhere just over her shoulder. Lord,
she needed to leave. Now.
“Yes, I’m sure,” she said.
More silence. More awkwardness. More reasons to get the heck out of here.
She pointed to the double doors of the church hall. “I should probably go.”
Sawyer nodded and stepped aside so she could pass. As she skirted around him, he
called, “Uh, Leslie?”
Her eyes darted to him and she held her breath.
Please don’t ask me out. Please don’t ask me out.
Sawyer stuck both hands in his pockets and quickly glanced to the side where
Eloise, Clementine and Claudette were staring openly. He lifted one shoulder in
an indelicate shrug and said, “I was wondering if maybe you’d like to grab
dinner some time?”
Oh, good God. He asked me out.
The effort to keep the pained expression from taking over her face was a valiant
one, but it was impossible to stop it. She mentally cursed every interfering
busybody in this town. Sawyer was a perfectly nice man. He didn’t deserve this.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t,” Leslie said. “I’m so busy with work, and my girls, and
I’m also president of the PTO at the school this year. I just can’t spare the
time. Thank you for the invitation, though.”
He did a fantastic job of hiding his disappointment, but Leslie still caught a
glimpse of it in the way his mouth pinched at the corners.
She hated this. She hated being this perpetual stick-in-the-mud who constantly
shot down advances from genuinely nice men. But finding a man was the very last
thing on her agenda. She didn’t care that the people in this town thought it was
time for her to jump into the dating pool again. She was not putting herself out
there until she was good and ready.
“Maybe some other time,” Sawyer said.
Leslie didn’t give him an answer, only another of those half-smiles before she
quickly made her way toward the door. She caught sight of Clementine, Claudette
and Eloise standing off to the right. All three looked shocked and agitated, as
if she’d messed up their well-laid plans.
That was too bad. She didn’t need a matchmaker.
Unfortunately, she was living in a town that was chock-full of them.
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