A Place to Call Home
Sharon Sala is hit and miss for many readers, and I’m no exception. I didn’t finish her last Intimate Moments novel, but I had absolutely no problems with this one.
Detective Judd Hanna takes a leave of absence from the police department to get his head on straight after his partner is murdered. He ends up on a Wyoming farm where he saves little Rachel Franklin and her mother, Charlotte (Charlie), from a stampeding bull. Charlie lives with her brother, Wade, who happens to be the sheriff, and he and Charlie invite Judd to stay with them for a while. When a bizarre kidnapping occurs, Judd sticks around to help Wade win the case.
Charlie is very grateful to Judd for saving her little girl and herself. She’s also very attracted to him. Charlie hasn’t paid much attention to men since Rachel’s father ran off after finding out about the baby. One of the things I liked about Charlie is that she is straightforward and honest, and she’s not portrayed as some kind of country bumpkin. She knows what she wants and follows her heart.
Judd is certainly tortured, but he doesn’t have a dark cloud hanging around him. He’s bothered by thoughts of what happened to his partner and by how his father abused him when he was little, yet he still manages to bond with Charlie, Rachel and Wade. He desperately wants a home like the one he never had when he was growing up, but he’s afraid he does not deserve one. The reader can see through his actions that he needn’t be worried and that he has found his home with Charlie and Rachel.
Some of my favorite scenes were those with Judd and Rachel. She’s not one of those annoying children who dominates the story. Rachel is really a very sweet little girl, and she and Judd quickly bond. One particularly cute scene involves a breakfast of marshmallows shared by these two in the pantry. You can see the family feeling developing, and you’ll begin to wonder how Judd could even consider leaving.
The mystery wasn’t really much of one, but it gave Judd a reason to stick around and involved some interesting secondary characters, particularly Davie, a very child-like adult, and his Aunt Judith. Sala also portrays a good brother-sister relationship between Wade and Charlie and allows Wade and Judd to become friends without a macho big brother attitude interfering.
A Place to Call Home is one of those rare titles that actually fits the book. Sala creates a wonderful sense of family, home, and life in a small town. I enjoyed this story from start to finish.