You can change your future but you can’t escape your past.
Life is good for Richard VanRyan.
His family is growing. His life is rich. He has everything he could desire, and he is blessed with all he never knew he needed.
Until the day his past shows up and tosses a grenade into his future.
What happens when the man you used to be casts a shadow over the man you are today?
Can the two worlds merge in peace, or will one cause the other to splinter?
Can forgiveness be earned or does it come with too high a price?
|The Contract (Book 3)
|Category / Genre(s):
|Marriage in Trouble
|Point of View:
|First Person, Past Tense, Multiple Viewpoints
|✔ 🚫 (Yes, but you HAVE to have read other books to understand this one)
|17th October, 2022
The final fling for Richard and Katy?
Oh how it pains me to give a Melanie Moreland book – especially one featuring the beloved Richard VanRyan – less than 5 stars. But before we delve into my personal pain – let’s get the important bits out the way. This is not a standalone story. At the very least you need to have read The Contract to understand this story – but you’ll truly only get the most from it if you’ve read all books in the Contract series, (at least) the first three books in the Vested Interest series and also the spin-off series Vested Interest: ABC Corp.
Having hugely enjoyed Ms Moreland’s more recent books and becoming a new fan of hers, it’s only this year that I’ve delved into her back catalogue and into the world of Richard and Katy VanRyan. From there, I’ve branched out into the original Vested Interest series of Bentley, Aiden and Maddox having already read their childrens’ stories. So what I’m saying is that for the last couple of months I have been living with this family, and their friends, and am 100% invested in their stories and lives. I see them more than I do my own family, if I’m honest.
Having all the characters together again was wonderful. Richard is days from retirement and he and Katy are getting ready to spend more time with their kids, grandkids and friends – and to spend more time with each other. Their love is still as strong as ever and I felt like I was being wrapped in a big ol’ hug. It was sheer perfection.
Then something occurred that made me think there were games afoot! I was wracking my brains to think who this person could be – a daughter of a previous enemy of Richard’s? Someone out for revenge or money? Who was going to be kidnapped? Who was the target of the nefarious interloper? It seems rather ridiculous to state after the fact, but not once did it even cross my mind that Ashley would be who she turned out to be.
Even though it’s hardly going to be a secret if you’re reading reviews – the following paragraph is a SPOILER!
SPOILER: When Ashley turned out to be Richard’s daughter, I was as shocked as our characters. And, I’ll admit, angry. From the moment we find out, we then start to get Ashley’s point of view as she becomes part of the narrative, alongside her boyfriend, Luc. As Ashley didn’t start off on the best foot with me (or the family) – and as protective as I am about these characters – I just didn’t like her. Didn’t understand her motivations, was angry at her for messing up my lovely family and just a whole lot of nope. I was determined not to like her and that held true throughout the book. Luc was only there for Ashley so I disliked him by default. Because I’m just that petty. SPOILER ENDS.
My book heart broke as Katy and Gracie found their places in the family irrevocably changed and as they dealt with their grief. Katy and Richard’s relationship hit a massive snag, as you can imagine, and even though I knew they would be fine – it’s Richard and Katy VanRyan, after all – it was still quite difficult to read. I just wasn’t here for this unnecessary trauma or the emotions it brought out in me. Another thing to lay at the feet of Ashley. Who I still didn’t like.
While I mentioned that it was a struggle for me to give this less than the full 5 stars, had it not been Richard VanRyan and had it not been Melanie Moreland, this book would likely have received 3 stars or – gasp – even less! But it IS RVR and just seeing the enduring love between him and Katy and the beautiful relationships between family and friends makes this book more than worthwhile if you’re a fan of the series/group. And it IS Melanie Moreland and she always delivers a richly emotional tale that is nothing but a sheer delight to read.
And I never did like Ashley. The family might have brought her into the fold and embraced her – I did not as not only am I petty but I’m the current grudge keeping champion of the world. And I’m not even ashamed.
This was a difficult book for me to review but in the end I can’t but recommend it. Assuming that you’ve read all the books and series noted above, and you’re a fan of them, you’ll want to read this story. Even if, like me, you then pretend it never really happened as if it was some shower induced dream sequence.
* I received this book in exchange for my honest review *
New York Times/USA Today bestselling author Melanie Moreland, lives a happy and content life in a quiet area of Ontario with her beloved husband of twenty-seven-plus years and their rescue cat, Amber. Nothing means more to her than her friends and family, and she cherishes every moment spent with them.
While seriously addicted to coffee, and highly challenged with all things computer-related and technical, she relishes baking, cooking, and trying new recipes for people to sample. She loves to throw dinner parties, and also enjoys traveling, here and abroad, but finds coming home is always the best part of any trip.
Melanie loves stories, especially paired with a good wine, and enjoys skydiving (free falling over a fleck of dust) extreme snowboarding (falling down stairs) and piloting her own helicopter (tripping over her own feet.) She’s learned happily ever afters, even bumpy ones, are all in how you tell the story.