CAN’T BUY FOREVER, BY SUSAN LAFFOON
PUBLICATION: PAGE PUBLISHING; MAY 17, 2015
About the book:
In the early 1950s, Odessa Drake (Dessa) is rescued from a bleak existence with a single mother. She takes a chance on the unknown to work in a boarding house owned by a widowed great aunt in Mineville, New York. Dessa is devoted to Aunt Flo and especially a young man, Nicholas, who appears and takes shelter in the attic, the only available space. Four years pass. She looks forward to each day because of his presence, in spite of the tedious work. Dessa is now eighteen and knows little more of Nicholas than the day he arrived to work the mines. She knows only he is a remarkable man who has a limp and she trusts Nicholas explicitly. There is a familiarity both recognize and an unshakeable bond develops. Nicholas has reasons to keep his past buried. Dangers loom and become evident when Nicholas gets too close and exposes their bond. What is the mystery behind this threat? To discover the answer, they escape by railway heading West, colliding with treachery and uncovering secrets, mile by mile. Their journey is impossible, but, they are supported by friends who risk their lives to make sure a great love and lineage is preserved. Or is it? None will forget their odyssey as they proceed to their destiny farther than they imagined.
Can’t Buy Forever is a story set in the 1950’s about a girl named Odessa and a young man she meets in her Aunt’s boarding house, Nicholas. The two have a quickly developed bond between them and obviously love one another, although at first it is just implied, rather than said. It starts out appearing as if it is a coming of age/historical romance with ice fishing dates and planning for prom, but the story quickly shifts when a multi-generational feud is brought to light. Odessa faces many, many challenges – both emotionally and physically – in order to be with Nicholas. Nicholas is mysterious and it takes some time before his past is revealed. The two share an emotional and sentimental love but breaking the curse that Nicholas has been under for so long changes everything.
Odessa was a somewhat complex character in that in some ways, she seemed wise beyond her years, but then other times seemed very immature. However, I do know for sure that she was very accident and illness-prone! The poor thing was sick or injured for 90% of the novel, yet she pressed on. Nicholas seemed very charming and romantic but was a bit too mysterious at times, leaving both Odessa and the reader dying for some details about his life and history. Their friends Elise, Scout and Gregg were all likable and engaging characters that could remind you of their young age and impress you with your wisdom all within the same page. I think my favorite character was Mick, who unfortunately doesn’t appear until the end of the novel, but I loved his charm and compassion. Roark – who is quite a prominent character, started as a nasty villain but went through a wonderful transformation over the course of the novel.
Can’t Buy Forever was both entertaining and at times, suspenseful, but I’m not sure that I loved it. The premise behind Nicholas, his family and their history was definitely unique and original, but I also found myself confused at various points about who was who and what they were doing. Without giving spoilers, I was even more hesitant about the part right after the funeral and the pseudo-reincarnation. Even when I made peace with that, deciding it was not so silly after all, then there were more challenges and obstacles making me think, “o.k., this is just a bit much.” Regardless, I did enjoy this creative story, which is unlike anything that I’ve read. I found it to be heartbreaking at times but there were also joyous moments that made me smile.
I enjoyed Susan Laffoon’s writing style although I did have to occasionally stop and remind myself that the narrator was an 18-year-old girl in the 1950’s. Some of the wording seemed almost too simple and/or innocent, but I admire the author’s ability to realistically tell a story from that point of view. I saw in other reviews on a retailer site several complaints about needing editing and grammatical errors, however, either I read I different edition or have serious grammatical weaknesses of my own because nothing significant stands out in my mind. Even with moments that were too far-fetched for me, this was an enjoyable read with a surprisingly perfect blend of historical romance, coming of age, and paranormal/mythological. The love being Nicholas and Odessa was beautifully portrayed without anything sexual or inappropriate, and showed a riveting depth of emotion. I’m not sure if I consider the ending happy, sad or just bitter-sweet – but it was well worth reading. I believe there may be a sequel coming next year, which I will most definitely want to read and learn more about what happens with Odessa!
*Thanks to the author for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I received the paperback copy of Can’t Buy Forever from the author, thus the 2015 publishing date, however, the Kindle version was released February 2017.
Purchase Can’t Buy Forever on Amazon.
Learn more about Susan Laffoon by visiting her web page.