Silhouette Special Edition #1194
MILD SPOILERS 😉
Reviewed by Introvert Reader
Meant To Be Married by Ruth Wind (aka Barbara Samuels) is a powerful romance that brought tears to my eyes. This second-chance-at-love story is underscored by superb characterization and a sensitive writer’s hand.
The Characters and Setup
Meant To Be Married begins a decade in the past when Elias Santiago and Sarah Greenwood defied their families to become lovers. The teenaged Romeo and Juliet were precisely that: two youths from feuding clans who fell in love with one another and had to keep their relationship secret. For over a century, Santiago and Greenwood blood has been shed via lynchings, murders, and suicides. Legend says the feud began when a Santiago male violated a Greenwood female. The Greenwoods hanged Santiago, and in turn, the Greenwood woman killed herself. Was it due to shame, or could it have been heartbreak?
Whatever the reason, the enmity between the families has grown stronger over time.
The high school sweethearts are on their way out of state to elope. Then a change of heart makes them turn back to contact their parents. Sarah’s father is a police officer, and to their dismay, they are met on the road with sirens and flashing red and blue lights.
Elias, who is a couple of years older than Sarah, is taken away and arrested. Sarah is whisked off to a home for pregnant girls. There she languishes for months, with no word from Elias. But how can he contact her when he’s trapped in jail for months before being released and has no idea where Sarah is? After she gives birth, Sarah’s parents put the baby up for a closed adoption.
Sarah goes to New York to become an acclaimed photographer, snapping pics of models and celebrities. Elias stays behind in their hometown of Taos, New Mexico, and opens a thriving tea business. Time and distance separate them, but they have a bond that will unite them.
After Sarah’s father has a heart attack, she receives a call from her mother, begging her to return home. Through the years, Sarah has visited her parents, but never for more than a day at a time. However, it’s time to put old ghosts to rest. Sarah returns to Taos. It’s no surprise when she sees Elias again, and their attraction is as vibrant as it was in the past. Even more so in the present time.
Years ago, there had been many obstacles in their way. They were too young. Their families were involved in a generations-long feud. The Greenwoods were upper class, and the Santiagos, although upwardly mobile, weren’t quite there at the time. The Greenwoods are Anglo-European, the Santiagos are Hispanic from a mix of Spanish and Amerindian heritage.
Now, some circumstances have changed, while some things remain as they always have. But fate will play a guiding hand, forcing Elias and Sarah to cross paths. Elias has a teenaged niece with aspirations of being a model. He reaches out to Sarah and pays her to photograph the girl and help her create a portfolio. As the two meet up again and again, they cannot deny their feelings for one another. How can they mend the wounds of the past when the wounds are still raw and gaping open?
Ruth Wind’s beautiful prose had me immersed in the semi-tragic love story. There were points when the suffering was overwhelming. She had me hissing at the contemptuous attitudes of the senior generations. I was enthusiastically rooting for Elias and Sarah to make it as a forever couple.
Final Analysis of Meant to Be Married
The ending of Meant to Be Married was a bittersweet conclusion. For although Elias and Sarah are finally reunited, theirs is an incomplete joining. A vital piece is missing and their happy ever after is not a perfect one.
And then the epilogue comes along and gives them a ray of hope. That was a real punch in the gut moment, and I truly felt Elias and Sarah’s joy and pain.
This book was a beautifully written romance. Meant to Be Married is so close to perfection. It’s a keeper, although, at times, the anguish was too much to bear. I get misty-eyed simply thinking about Elias and Sarah’s torment. Regardless of what they endured, the power of love proves paramount. Even if the ending isn’t wrapped up in a pretty ribbon, the pair have found each other again. They will finally get married, as was meant to be.