Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Review - - Come Home to Me


Come Home to Me
By Liz Talley
Publisher: Montlake
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Reviewed by Janga 



Fifteen years ago, three members of the Class of 2003 of Mangham High School, Moonlight, South Carolina, left their small hometown. Summer Valentine, a brainy girl with a gift for composing and singing, left for Columbia, South Carolina, where she had a full scholarship to the University of South Carolina. A short time later she was back home, pregnant, and dealing with her father suffering because they were targeted by the wealthy, influential family of her baby’s father. She kept her child against all advice, attending a community college to earn a business degree instead of the life she had planned. From the moment she made her decision, her child has been the most important person in her life. It was for David, now fourteen, that she left Nashville and her dream of making it as a singer-songwriter to return to Moonlight so that her son’s father could be part of his life in a way not possible with eight hours distance between them.

Rhett Bryan left Moonlight to attend college in California. He discovered his freshman year that he had a gift for standup comedy, and through hard work and compromise, he has parleyed that gift into A-list stardom as the host of a popular late-night television show. But when he accidentally kills a child who chases a ball into the street, his life changes. A pending wrongful-death suit and a public meltdown on his show have NBC suggesting he take a long break. He heads home to Moonlight, to his grandfather’s house where he grew up after his parents’ deaths. Maybe in his hometown he can find the boy he used to be and healing for the man he has become.

Hunt McCroy left Moonlight to attend the University of Florida and play baseball for the Gators. Baseball was his life, and when Summer informed him of her pregnancy, his only concern was not letting fatherhood interfere with his dream of a successful college career followed by playing professional baseball. He had little to do with his son for the first nine years of the boy’s life. That changed five years ago when an injury and subsequent addiction to pain medication destroyed his baseball career and sent him back to Moonlight to work for his controlling father. Hunt is determined to be a good father and to avoid repeating the errors his own father made, errors that left Hunt feeling as if he never measured up.

Summer, Rhett, and Hunt discover that the choices they made when they were only a few years older than young David are still impacting their present. Summer always saw Rhett as a golden boy without blemish, but she learns that he is as flawed and vulnerable and scarred as she is. Rhett must learn that Summer is a woman made strong and beautiful by her experience, far different from the teenage girl who tutored him. He and Hunt, once best friends, find out how little they knew about each other. And Hunt learns that to be the father he wants to be he must face the truth of his past and accept responsibility for his mistakes.

Talley uses multiple points of view and a narrative that switches between past and present to give her readers a compelling story that packs a powerful emotional punch. Although Summer and Rhett’s romance is essential to the story, this book is more a general fiction/romance hybrid than a conventional romance. There are really no heroes or villains here. While some of their mistakes are more consequential than others, all three of the central characters are faulty, deeply human creatures who struggle to make meaning out of their lives. Each of them grows during the story and eventually achieves new self-awareness and earned happiness. I liked Rhett and developed a degree of sympathy for Hunt, but Summer is my favorite character. Her love for her son and her capacity to forgive—which is NOT the same as forgetting—is amazing.

The secondary characters add more depth to the story. Rhett’s grandfather is a curmudgeon with a good heart, David is a credible adolescent with an endearing sweetness and the errors in judgment common to teenage boys, and Summer’s sister Maisie is an interesting and sympathetic character. Even Hunt’s father, although a jerk of the first order, is more than a stereotype. Additionally, Talley gives a clear sense of Moonlight’s low-country appeal, but she avoids making the town unbelievable idyllic.

I've been a Liz Talley fan since her Boys of the Bayou Harlequin Superromance series, and her Morning Glory books all earned stellar reviews from me. (I look forward to the fourth book in that series set to be released this summer.) Talley has never been afraid to push the boundaries of the genre, and she is particularly adept at weaving stories around the second-chance trope. This is one of her best. The ending left me sighing happily.  

If you like stories about flawed characters who fall down and get up--and ultimately grab their second chance, I think you will enjoy Come Home to Me as much as I did. I highly recommend it. One caveat: parts of this book may be a problem for readers for whom non-consensual sex is a trigger, and the cover copy fails to warn of this.


9 comments:

  1. Liz Talley sound like a new-to-me author worth trying ... thanks for the great review. I think I will try the Morning Glory books first as I rather like Brittany Pressley reading the audio books.

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    1. Q, my friend, it's been too long since we heard from you. I hope you enjoy the Morning Glory books.

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  2. Liz has mentioned the sensitive content for months on social media.

    denise

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    1. I know she has, Denise. I just think since the triggers are there that the cover copy should caution readers who might be affected. I am not faulting Liz, just wishing that Montlake had been a bit more sensitive to the issue.

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  3. Thanks for introducing me to a new author. I like stories that give people a second chance.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Liz Talley is a gifted writer, Pamela. I hope you give her a try.

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  4. Thanks for the review. This sounds like a powerful book.

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  5. Another new author for me to try! I like second chance stories....

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