By Holly Jacobs
Publisher: Harlequin SuperRomance
Release Date: December 7, 2010
Holly Jacobs is one of my category auto-buy authors. I always enjoy her books and her characters, usually ordinary people like you and me who face life’s trials and triumphs with the love and support of their friends and family. In her new book, Homecoming Day, that network of support has been broken, leaving Seth Keller and Laura Watson feeling very much alone. They have both learned first-hand that life is fragile and, sometimes, not fair…
Less than a year ago, Laura Watson was happy, in love, about to get married and celebrating her newly discovered pregnancy with her wonderful fiancé. A few days later, her fiancé was on life support, his mother refusing to honor his wishes to die with dignity and, in her grief, ordering Laura from his hospital room and their lives. Laura’s life is in pieces, the man she loved with all her heart gone, the family she thought would be hers gone, her heart filled with anger and pain. With no family of her own, Laura is left alone to go on, to make a life for herself and the baby she carries.
Abandoned by his mother at a young age, Seth Keller was adopted into a wonderful, loving family but has never been able to erase those early feelings of abandonment, feelings that were once again brought to the surface when his parents refused to support his teenage marriage. Seth and Allie married anyway and though the odds were stacked against them they made it, finishing college and basking in their love for one another. But three years ago, tragedy struck and Seth lost his wife and the twins she carried. Filled with anger and grief, Seth has been essentially living a life of isolation since then. The gentle, giving police officer loves his large, loving family and needs their support but has never been able to bring himself to forgive his parents for opposing his marriage.
When one of Laura’s high school art students, Jillian (J.T.) Thomas is detained by the police, she calls Laura to come to the police station to be with her until her mother can be located. A rebellious teen, J.T. is neglected by her mother, failing in school and hiding a humiliating secret. The only class in which she excels is art. She’s in danger of dropping out and desperately needs someone in her corner. She finds the support she needs in Laura and Seth, the newly appointed liaison between the police department and the school system. The two meet at the police station and decide to team up to help J.T. As they work together, they build a warm and supportive friendship that very gradually begins to deepen into something more substantial, more lasting, more frightening.
As anyone who has lost their spouse to death, as I have, knows, moving on can be a terrifying experience. There are dangerous emotions to navigate - guilt, anger and fear - emotions that Jacobs captures realistically and compassionately. Seth and Laura, especially Laura, must acknowledge and conquer these emotions before they are able to begin a new chapter in their lives. But perhaps the most important emotion they have to acknowledge is forgiveness. Unless Seth can make peace with his family, Laura can make peace with her fiance’s family and they can both forgive their loved ones for dying and leaving them behind, they have no hope of moving forward together.
I’ve enjoyed all of Holly Jacobs’ books but Homecoming Day is going straight to my keeper shelf. I think it’s the best writing she’s ever done. Seth, Laura and J.T. have all found places in my heart and I have no doubt I will be revisiting them often. I have hopes that we might see J.T. again someday when she's older. She's a compelling character and I'd love to know how her story ends. It was great to catch up with the entire Keller family and be present for the latest Homecoming Day as they welcomed yet another child into their lives. I first met them in last year's Unexpected Gifts and am looking forward to seeing them again when Holly publishes Tucker's story. For those of you who have not read Jacobs' books before, Homecoming Day is part of a series but stands well on its own. However, if you're like me, once you meet the Kellers, you won't be able to get enough of them!