Ten-year-old Olivia Chandler has a school she loves, good friends, a nice home, a talented mom, and a successful father she adores. Tragedy rips all of this away from her, and plunges Olivia into the foster care system, where for eight years she is neglected, humiliated, abused, and nearly raped.
Fate smiles on Olivia shortly before she ages out of the system, allowing her the means to attend college and law school.
Years later, Olivia is a successful child advocate attorney, giving a voice to children who are so easily ignored by those claiming to act in their best interest. She has little time for personal relationships, and her lifelong fear of abandonment reminds her never to get too close to anyone.
The successful attorney stumbles though when she’s assigned a case by the court that too closely mirrors her own haunted childhood. Olivia never gives her minor clients less than her all, and the only way she can help her eleven year old client is to face down and acknowledge her demons. This same case also brings a man into her life who sees her for who she truly is, and will not allow Olivia to push him away.
Title: In The Best Interest of The Child
Author: Felicia Denise
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Psychological/Romance
Rating: 5 Wholehearted ♥‘s
I want my own Bellamy! Before you get any ideas, it’s not just for the man, himself – but his entire cray-cray, laugh-out-loud, we do everything with passion family! Grab your box of Kleenex, you’re going to cry, especially when you laugh. Grab your beverage of choice and a guilty pleasure kind of snack, because oh yeah…it’s that kind of book.
Olivia Chandler has been through more than any person should ever have to go through and all of it prior to her eighteenth birthday. As the product of a broken foster care system, Olivia has taken what precious knowledge and resources her late father has given her, her own brains and a spine of steel to forge a career for herself as a Child Advocate of the Court. An attorney who prides herself on specializing in keeping children out of foster care by any decent means necessary. Unfortunately, this has resulted in years of hard work as an excuse not to deal with her own childhood trauma and to keep people at arms length no matter what.
When she gets a new case that closely mimics the childhood tragedy that forever changed her life–too much for the worst–Olivia finds herself facing a frightened, abandoned, haunted and betrayed little girl whom no one seems to give two cares about–and it’s not her new client, Rena Averest. It’s Livvie Chandler, herself. That girl still thriving inside of her, unable to heal.
Bruce Bellamy knows all about abandonment, and not just his own. When his wife walked out on him and their young children it did a number on him in many ways, making it difficult to trust in second chances. The first time he lays eyes on Olivia Chandler, though, all that changes. He can see right through her professional facade and down into the sad, yet genuinely compassionate woman bound and determined to stand for Rena Averest–a little girl who means a lot to him and his family.
Let me tell you, Bruce is pure charm. I have never read a male lead with more sincere charm than this man and Felicia wrote him so well, that it doesn’t come across as pretentious or nauseating. Even his persistence is charming! He made me laugh–and swoon–right alongside Olivia. I won’t spoil anything, so you’ll have to read the book to know if all his fast-talking persuasion does him any good! “That man.”
Then you have the Bellamy family – strike that, they’re a clan. I think I counted no less than three or four generations of Bellamy under their roof at one time. They are the big, loud, boisterous and loving family taking care of Rena Averest, and as soon as they recognize Olivia’s intentions to do the same, they adopt her as one of their own. I can’t even begin to describe these characters, they’re the kind of relatives you’d love and dread having at the same time, because I doubt anything gets by them!
Most of the time during reading this book, I had tears in my eyes. From living through Olivia’s horrid past, the frustration over what Rena’s being put through due to sheer incompetence by so-called professionals, all of the amazing supporting characters and from the truly fantastic humor Felicia weaves into the plot in all the right places. The dialogue was a little confusing for me at first, having one person speak and another person react all in the same sentence could make it hard to tell who was doing the talking, but once I got used to that pattern, it became easy to read.
I loved how genuine all of these characters came across, whether they were good or bad, they were written wholeheartedly. I wasn’t left feeling any disappointment at all in the end. Even though this story is going to continue – (Yay! Does the happy dance) – everything that was a plot point in this book was tied up by the end, with the exception of what is to continue, but that’s explained immediately. I was very, very grateful for that! I can’t wait to read the next installment, and I highly recommend this book to everyone. I don’t care what your preferred genre is, read it. I also recommend that it be made into a movie, pronto. I want to curl up on my couch with my coffee, Kleenex and snacks and watch it asap.
♥ Connect with the Author, Felicia Denise ♥
♥ This is an Honest Review of a book that I purchased. I have not received anything in exchange for this review from the author, to include an ARC.