Monday, April 6, 2015
The Road Leads Back by Marci Boudreaux
Kara Martinson and Harry Canton weren’t exactly high school sweethearts, but they did share one night neither will ever forget. Twenty-seven years later, Harry surprises Kara at an art gallery opening and discovers he left her with more than just memories when he went away to college. Desperate to connect with the family he never knew existed, Harry convinces his son to move to Stonehill—and pleads with Kara to come, too.
Kara hasn’t stepped foot in their hometown since the day she was sent away to a home for unwed mothers. Now Harry’s back in her life and as they put together the pieces of his parents’ betrayal, old heartaches start to feel anew. She wants to be near her family, but returning to Iowa means facing some things…and some people…she isn’t quite ready to.
Can Harry convince her to forgive the people who betrayed her so they can embrace the future they were robbed of so long ago? Or will the pain of the past be too much for Kara to overcome?
Where to Buy
This is a rather sweet, yet realistic story about a couple that gets a second chance at love. While there is a certain amount of starry-eyed romance and some situations work out just a little too easily perhaps, for the most part the story deals with the uglier, more difficult side of coming home again. For while some people might be happy to have you in their life again, and you're happy to see them again as well, it's not going to be all sunshine and rainbows when the past has been full of betrayals. Forgiveness might come, but probably not easily, and when events in the past have so strongly shaped your life they can never be forgotten. All that can be done is to try to find a way through the pain so it can be left behind and you can move forward. The story of how Kara and Harry figure out how to do just that is told here with compassion, acknowledgement of the fact that there aren't going to be any easy answers or fixes in this situation, healing won't come overnight, and some wrongs can never be entirely forgiven -- or can they?
Kara made the best of the hand she was dealt when she found herself pregnant and alone barely out of high school. She built a good life for her son and herself, and now does the the same for her granddaughter as well. But while she has gotten to live life largely on her own terms and has accomplished more than many single mothers living an often hand-to-mouth existence, she hasn't ever been truly happy. She doesn't really realize this fact, however, until she's forced to confront the truth that her coping mechanism has largely involved running from her problems and ignoring them rather than dealing with them. And once she's forced to deal with a part of the pain she's been bottling up from her past, it all eventually comes pouring out, insisting that she finally deal with it instead of running or sweeping it under a rug again. It's a heart-wrenching experience, but she proves time and again that while she may be battered by the things of her past, she's not yet beaten.
Harry has had the advantage of living a fairly normal life free from the sorts of hardships that Kara has had to face. It hasn't been idyllic, however, as a failed marriage can attest, and he's been experiencing a vague discontent with his life for some time, though he probably doesn't fully realize it until he meets Kara again and learns that he has a son he never knew about. His reaction to learning about this and the role that his own mother played in concealing it from him all these years is at times harsh, and also a bit heavy-handed perhaps in some ways, but the emotions behind it are totally understandable and his actions largely forgivable. He may not be very good at dealing with his own emotional turmoil, but he proves time and again that he's more than capable of dealing with Kara's and seems to have a pretty good feel for when to push her to deal with things and when to back off and let her find her own way through.
While this isn't, generally speaking, the sort of story I normally go for, I found that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one. It captivated me pretty much from the beginning, and though there were a few slow spots at around 60-70% or so, overall it easily held my attention through to the end. The characters are all so vivid, their emotions very realistic and tangible, and you just can't help but get pulled into caring about them and what happens to them. And although this is a romance novel, and thus it's pretty much a given that there will be an HEA at the end, the road that these two must travel to get there is full of so many twists and turns and pitfalls that you often wonder if they truly will be able to find their way through to it. For as we all know, love isn't always enough, and romances don't *always* have happy endings.
Overall this is a book that I'd definitely recommend, particularly to fans of contemporary romances. This recommendation does come with a caveat that if you require some hot and heavy sexy times, or edge-of-the-seat action and suspense of some sort, then this may not be the book for you. The lovemaking here takes place behind closed doors for the most part, and the conflicts they face are predominately emotional ones, not physical ones, and the pace is often a bit slow. If you're ok with sweet, emotion-heavy romance though, then definitely give this one a try. I doubt you'll be disappointed. 4 solid stars to an excellent book. I'll be intrigued to see what the other stories of Stonehill bring.
Note: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.