SEEKING CAROLINA                                    TERRI-LYNNE DEFINO

Seeking Carolina (Bitterly Suite, #1)Johanna Coco is finally home in Bitterly, Connecticut to attend her beloved grandmother’s funeral—only to be confronted by the very reason she’s stayed away to begin with—Charlie McCallan. Her high school sweetheart is now divorced, and no longer the skinny boy Johanna once loved. Hometown handsome and dependable as always, Charlie is the kind of man she needs to lean on as she and her sisters grapple with their grief—as well as the mystery of their long-missing mother, Carolina. But Johanna’s heart isn’t only haunted by her ghosts; it is haunted by what happened between her and Charlie…

Charlie is determined to do things right this time, and he has to do it before Johanna vanishes from his life again. First he needs to prove to her that the past is past, and they can overcome it—no easy task when he’s up against the ghosts lingering in her life, trying to convince her that happily-ever-after is not in the cards for any of the catastrophe-prone Coco sisters, least of all Johanna. But her fearless first love is ready to do whatever it takes to win her back—ghosts be damned.
     Dealing with those you love who have mental health issues from the very simple chemical imbalance that can cause anxiety issues to severe like bipolar and schizophrenia.  All can be treated by medication and some with just therapy.  But mental health is fearful to the ones that have it run in their family.  As the fear is there for Johanna Coco and her three sisters Nina, Emma, and Julietta.
     Their mother was bipolar and their father was the schizophrenic.  Leaving them to each wonder alone when it was going to happen to them.  You see the 4 girls eventually went to live with their mother’s parents.  One day their Gram received a phone call from the police saying Nina the eldest and Johanna had been taken into custody.  That their parents were in need of mental health care and being put into the hospital.
     All along their grandparents loved and cared for the girls.  They were enrolled in school but first records had to be established.  At this point they were no ones.  They had no birth dates or birth certificates nothing.  At school she made a dear friend that never thought Johanna odd.  Charlie Mc Callen was someone she could count on.
     Eight years later her grandparents received another call saying their parents were in a terrible accident their father had died and their mother seriously hurt.  The twist was the girls had two new sisters that were also in the accident.  Emma was unhurt and Julietta who suffered some minor injuries.  This time just Gram went to get the girls.  Their mama didn’t come back with them.  The fact of the matter is she escaped their custody of the hospital that they had put her in at the time of the accident.  So no one knew where she was at or maybe they did?  Charlie and Jo date the summer of their junior year the best summer of their lives.  Then the worst happens…
     Twenty years later Jo’s Gram has passed on like her Poppy (grandpa.)  She did not make it home in time for the funeral due to the storm.  She walks to the cemetery from the train station in the snow thinking her sisters are mad at her for not making it on time so that is why they don’t come to get her at the train station.  But due to the coverage they never got the calls or messages so Charlie offered to go pick her up and she wasn’t there so he happened to go to the cemetery.  She stood there in the snow soaking wet.  At first she doesn’t even know it is him but when she does her grief increases.  Charlie was the one that left her behind giving up on her.  Married with five kids one of the many reasons she had only been home a few times in 8 years.
      For Charlie who is now divorced and extremely happy one he has full custody of his kids and two he is free to openly love and win back the girl that took his heart when she left town.  His true love.  Jo Coco…
     This was a great family saga.  I loved that fact that there was so much pain to overcome but that they did it together and even when it hurt that they never really took it out on each other they gather together as a family and held on tight.  Mental health issues is so very hard to live with weather you are the patient or the loved ones that are on the outside looking in.  You feel so hopeless because you can’t do anything.  But pray and give them to God and make sure that you get them the best care you can.

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