Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review & Giveaway! FINALLY & FOREVER by Robin Jones Gunn

First introduced as a minor character in Robin Jones Gunn's A Whisper and a Wish, Katie Weldon eventually earned her own series.Finally & Forever, which released last month, is the fourth book in the series that bears Katie's name.
After a spontaneous decision the night before, California girl and recent college graduate Katie Weldon finds herself on a Nairobi-bound plane. When she wakes from a doze, reality crashes in and Katie realizes that she is not only sitting next to Eli Lorenzo, her ex-boyfriend's former roommate, but she's headed to Africa with no plans to return home anytime soon. Overwhelmed by what that decision might mean for her future and for her blossoming relationship with Eli, she heads to the bathroom, where a mini panic attack ensues.
Can you blame her?
Once back in her seat, she's calmed by Eli's steady presence and, after the warm welcome she receives from his family and the wonders she glimpses in this ancient land, Katie begins to realize that perhaps Africa, Eli and the Lorenzo family are just what she needs to help discover what God wants her to do with her life.
Absolutely lovable and relatable as a protagonist, Katie Weldon is just the sort of girl you would want your daughter to hang out with — which could be why she was such a hit as Christy Miller's best friend in the original Christy Miller series. Now grown, Katie is the sort of heroine you root for, even when you are as confused as she is as to what exactly it is that you're rooting for her to accomplish.
Katie is all sorts of fun and has no trouble laughing at herself. She's spontaneous and quick with humor even though her jokes sometimes fall flat with those around her; but she's also the kind of girl who quickly bounces back from uncomfortable situations in which her words might get her into a little bit of trouble.
Eli is fairly serious but has a dry sense of humor that makes him more believable than a lot of "career missionary" characters in fiction. The conflicts that arise between he and his missionary parents are quite believably written and universal to the parent-child experience, even if the landscape is a little more exotic than most of us are used to. He is romantic but also a total guy. Sometimes he doesn't grab the opportunities he should to clarify the details he assumes Katie will naturally understand.
Clearly, he's husband material.
Gunn weaves the romantic thread of the story through some surprising events, and Katie and Eli must deal with communication issues and process the "what if" scenarios attached to the different paths their futures could take in Africa, whether they wind up together or apart. As would be expected by the title, Katie does get a nudge toward her HEA in every area of her life, and I must say that Robin Jones Gunn has penned one of the most touching and lovely proposal scenes that I've read in a long time. Actually, I'm sighing just thinking about it — and maybe wishing, just a little bit, that my hubby and I could get a do-over ... in Kenya … with hundreds of candles … and some picturesque tea fields in the background.
Even readers who've never thought of visiting Africa might long for a Kenyan stamp on their passport after seeing the beauty of this country through Katie's eyes. In fact, Kenya itself almost becomes a character within the story. The descriptions of the landscape, the cuisine, the culture and the people are so vivid — and Katie is so filled with wonder at it all — that the reader experiences falling in love with Africa along with Katie Weldon.
The Katie Weldon series is a spin-off of Gunn's hugely popular multiseries Christy Miller saga. Adult readers may remember meeting Katie at a Christy Miller slumber party back when book two of the original series was released in 1989, but I'm sure this book will appeal just as well to Gunn's established readers as it will for those who haven't read any of her previous YA titles.
Katie Weldon and her cohorts have aged with enviable slowness since the book in which she first appeared. (I had skyscraper bangs, shoulder pads and a thing for big-haired drummers in 1989. Now I have crow's feet, a teenage daughter and a standing appointment with my colorist!) But Robin Jones Gunn has done a fabulous job of not dating her books by keeping her characters familiar to original readers while adjusting subtle details to make their vocabularies and settings contemporary for today's teens. It was fun to see Katie Weldon, a character so many girls have grown up with, as a young woman; and it was a treat to go along with her on an adventure to Africa with the guy who could, finally and forever, be The One.

(This review originally appeared at USA Today's romance fiction blog, Happy Ever After)
Serena's Rating:

The proposal scene in Finally & Forever has inspired me to give you all a chance to dream up your perfect marriage proposal. In a few lines or a short paragraph, describe your idea of the ideal, romantic marriage proposal. Maybe it's even the one one you got! Or, maybe it's the one you dream of or the proposal you hope for your own daughter. In any case, leave your thoughts on the "perfect" romantic proposal in the comments below. One winner will be chosen at random (thanks, random.org!) to receive my copy of Robin Jones Gunn's Finally & Forever (thanks to Robin Gunn and Candice at DJC Communications for the copy!) Contest runs though 7/24/12 -- don't forget to leave me your spam-free email address(jane dot doe at jmail dot com) Good luck!


  1. My dream proposal would include a lot of Scripture, a picnic, and candles!

  2. The way my husband proposed was pretty romantic. We were on a hike at up at Mt Rainier. He proposed while we were at Paradise. :-) Yes, that is its name. We stopped for our lunch break, and while the pasta was cooking, he pulled out the ring box and opened it. Then he asked me to marry him. He said, "You like going on adventures with me, right? How about doing it for the rest of your life?" We'll be celebrating our two year anniversary in a couple months.

    chalainam at gmail dot com

  3. Robin Jones Gunn's my favorite author!

    My ideal proposal is anything that's well planned and thought out, like Eli's. I'd prefer for it to be small, in a scenic place, and filled with laughter and happy tears.


  4. My dream proposal happened when my then boyfriend was visiting from his job in New Zealand for the Holidays. He brought me back to one of our first special date spots: Where a river literally came out of a mountain. it was new years day and the ground was covered in snow. He set up a camera on timed shot and took a couple pictures of us and the view. Then he said, "One more," started the timer and ran up to me where he got down on one knee in the snow.He said, "I don't know what the future holds but I know I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?" It was the first time he'd told a girl he loved her. He quit his job and moved back a few months later. A few months after that we were married

    1. Whoops forgot to leave a profile!

  5. Awww. Can't wait to read more of these stories!

  6. The perfect marriage proposal in my mind is the one I got! :D It's a long story, but I'll try to sum it up. My now-husband had took me on a wonderful, meaningful walk which was punctuated by attacks from ninjas (our friends dressed up)! He valiantly fought them off, and, at the end of the walk gave me a bouquet of my favorite flowers and a BEAUTIFUL ring (both delivered by ninjas) and asked me to marry him!! The whole ninja thing was kind of an inside joke between us, so that made it hilarious, meaningful, and memorable! He also included many small things that were meaningful just to us. It was perfect! AND we have it on video!

    1. took*
      e-mail: mrs.sarahnicholson@gmail.com

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  8. As a kid (I'm only sixteen years old), I haven't thought a lot about how I will be proposed to. I have, however, thought of romantic moments that could turn into a proposal. One of my favorites is at sunset or sunrise. The Earth is so still, the animals are just awakening, and the Sun is just right. it is beautiful and not overbearing. It would be so romantic if your beloved took you to a park, or natural place (could even be your own yard), that's memorable to you both. He wouldn't need any candles because the Sun's right there. You and your beloved would be holding hands, watching the Sun. Then you would both turn towards eachother because you would both just know. Your beloved would take your hands in his, kiss them, and then.... pop the question; "Will you marry me?" It would be completely natural. No human props (except the ring, of course). God would provide all the ingredients for the perfect proposal.
    email: sbethnel@gmail.com

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  10. My hubbys proposal to me was perfect. He had me compeletly surprised. Set up a cinderella type theme set and all. Had me a fairy godfather who picked me up in a convertable. He did have a horse snd buggy reserved buy the man never showed up. The car was plan b. There was the cinderella rogers and hamerstine music playing when i got there and he read from genesis about how God created woman then proposed. It was all really sweet one over 11 years ago now.

  11. Oh. Email address jlcandrews at gmail dot com

  12. My perfect marriage proposal is he would take me out to dinner and romance me. We would go to a romantic movie and then head to the beach. It would be a beautiful night. The sky full of stars and a full moon. We would have romantic music and we would slow dance. He would tell me how much I mean to him and that God bring me in his life for a purpose and then he would get down on one knee and ask me if I would do the extraordinary honor of becoming his wife. That he will love and cheris me forever. Tore923@aol.com

  13. My boyfriend now husband bought a picnic and spread it on a blanket by a small pond and then right after we ate he proposed to me in a nearby gazebo. He was so nervous that I knew what he was going to do! johanna25 at ymail dot com

  14. My ideal proposal occurred, but unfortunately the marriage has since ended. But this is what it was in a nutshell.

    We were at a very fancy dinner near Disney World. We had been dating for six weeks. We went over to a portion of Disney World where there was a 3-story ship that normally is a restaurant. We went up to the third floor. So there we were. It was about 11 at night, and the setting was perfect. We were on the third floor of a fancy, Southern-style ship overlooking the lake. He dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him. I said Yes, and we had our first kiss. We were married for almost 10 years. But at least I have a proposal story that I shall never forget.

    ruthaw_1974 (at) yahoo (dot) com

  15. My ideal proposal would be a picnic in the mountains, near a lake, sunset ..music of bird songs...

  16. My ideal proposal for my daughter would be for her to be in church and her boyfriend would be a the student preacher for the night.He would do his sermon on marriage,and then he would call my daughter up front and propose.Thanks...jackie_tessnair at yahoo dot com

  17. My ideal proposal would occur in mid-spring night at my favorite place in the world London on The London Eye Ferris Wheel the view is abosolutly amazing. The view + your loved one + The proposal = Wonderful Bliss :) KrystaMonkeyToes@gmail.com

  18. I would love to win this book!!!
    Enter me!!
    Sarah Richmond





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