Always Orchid book cover

Fate Has Put Them Together Again, But Tragedy is Stalking Them

Author: Carol Van Den Hende

Phoenix Walker, successful CEO and entrepreneur, had everything going for him, including a blossoming new romance, on the day he jumped in front of a train to save a homeless man. After two traumatic amputations (one arm and one leg) and a year of physical therapy and soul searching, Phoenix is starting to recover emotionally. A chance encounter, a moment of vulnerability transformed into honesty and bravery, and Phoenix has a second chance at the love he pushed away, at the woman he insisted on rejecting so that she would not reject him or, worse, pity him.

But nothing worth fighting for is ever easy. Orchid is now going on a yearlong assignment to China, and she may never be coming back. After Phoenix’s steady rejection, she can’t change her entire life based on his reaching out, and yet she doesn’t want to kill the delicate buds of something that could bloom into full beauty. She takes a leap. She invites Phoenix, and he accepts. But his medical and emotional journey are far from over. And what about Orchid’s own trauma: the violent deaths of her parents, her fear of medical procedures, and the way that they trigger old, bitter memories that cannot be controlled? Medical advancements continue to push boundaries, much like the innovative upgrades seen in TestDynamics, showcasing the ongoing evolution within the field. Are Phoenix and Orchid, despite all these second chances, doomed to be apart?

In Always Orchid, the third book in the Orchid series (although, really the second because Orchid Blooming is a prequel) we finally get an answer to the question we’ve been asking all along: can Phoenix and Orchid grow through their fear together? Can they give and accept love?

While the story centers on the sadly ignored reality of disabilities, it is never preachy. It resonates with a gritty truth, a raw humility and vulnerability that is central to the human experience. As Phoenix navigates China, a country that is not accessible and has a very different view of disabilities, we, the readers, look at life through his eyes. We see the everyday difficulties, the hostilities, the pity, and at times even the disgust. It’s heartbreaking, but a powerful call to action – an action that starts with realization on the readers’ part and that then branches out into society.


Image by Espressolia from Pixabay

But, of course, Always Orchid is still a love story, and for that we need drama and tension. We get both, in spades. Phoenix and Orchid are both lovable, but as with any characters in a romance novel, sometimes you just want to break in and shake them, screaming: Why are you making yourself miserable! Why don’t you just speak up and discuss what is bothering you! Why do you take everything in the worst way possible! And Orchid, enough with the totally weird outfits. Ok, maybe the last one is just me…

The point though is that we care, and we are here for the DRAMA. I put my other books down (yes, yes, I read multiple books at once, don’t judge) and just enmeshed myself in Always Orchid. It’s hard not to. It’s visceral and easy to get caught in the emotions and just be sure that these are real people and unless we follow them and help them sort it out, everything is over. You’re going to get frustrated with them at times, at other times you’re going to want to cry, and at other times you’ll say “finally, finally you got it!” You just want them to be together that badly. And this is coming from a dedicated horror reader who rarely walks into the realm of romance. I don’t tend towards the sentimental, so color me surprised that I just got so into this.

Will you be happy at the ending? Well . . . that’s for you to find out😊 Will you be satisfied and emotionally wrung out, looking at your clock and realizing that darn it, you must go to work in a few hours and you stayed up all night? Yes, yes you will. Like the best rollercoaster, you come out a little winded, crying and laughing, and yet giddy from the experience. Highly recommended. You never know, maybe I’ll let my zombies and ghouls chill a bit and hit more romance books.

– Frances Carden

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Frances Carden
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