A Small Town Homecoming
Heroines who want to be in charge of it all are usually heroines who test my patience – greatly I may say. But for a heroine to drolly, yet truthfully, admit more than once “I am a terrible person”…well, there must be something there to like.
Architect Tess Roussel is trying to make a go of her new firm in a small town without much need of her skills. She’s designed a waterfront project that could give her all the professional recognition she so longs for, but funding must be obtained and the zoning battle won. When her grandmother tells Tess that the final go ahead for the development has been given, Tess is ecstatic until she is informed that the general contractor has been hired as well – with no input from Tess. Considering the project hers alone, she is shocked by both the decision and the clear reminder that her grandmother is the one in charge.
Quinn is a recovering alcoholic who’s trying hard to raise his ten-year-old daughter, Rosie, although she is proving difficult in every way imaginable. He’s also attempting to rebuild his career after walking away from a job he managed six years ago when one of his men was seriously injured. Now he’s been given the opportunity to prove himself worthy once again of overseeing a large construction project, and he is not going to waste it.
Aggravation doesn’t begin to describe what Tess feels when she thinks about Quinn going straight to her grandmother for any needed permission rather than through her. While Quinn is a pretty mild-natured guy and does consult with Tess as the project’s architect, he also knows they’re equals and sees no need to keep her informed on other aspects of the job. I thoroughly enjoyed watching his serene confidence as Tess still attempted to be in charge.
It’s obvious that someone is attempting to sabotage the project and Quinn spends a great deal of his personal time watching the site and keeping it safe for his workers. The vandalism almost seems personal in nature and Quinn has to wonder if he will ever make a break with his past. I felt great sympathy for Quinn with each of these incidents (I feared he would be blamed) but I thought the town and media’s reaction to the problems on the job site, as well as Quinn’s past unfinished project, was both unrealistic and contrived and, therefore, irksome.
Tess is best described as the live wire to Quinn’s steady calm. At times I saw her as unprofessional and at other times a brat insisting on her own way – and then there was the constant need to have the upper hand professionally and romantically. But then, much to my surprise, I found myself thinking she’s refreshing, downright cool, and pretty darn snazzy personality wise. Her dealings with Rosie, a child she prefers not to know, were particularly unique, as well as entertaining.
Quinn shows himself to be quite the strong hero with his multitude of challenges and he endures it all with a stoic quiet determination. He recognizes Tess for the challenge she is and resolves not to allow her to wrest control from him in their personal relationship, no matter how hard she tries. If they become involved, it will be on his terms – not hers.
Secondary characters, particularly those from the book’s prequel, worked to lessen my enjoyment as the author lapsed into “telling” about their past, seemingly insignificant history and it did little but drag down the running storyline.
It was the very thing that bothered me the most in the beginning of A Small Town Homecoming that gave me the greatest satisfaction in the end: Tess with her self-deprecating sense of humor and sheer orneriness. Yes, Quinn ultimately proves his strength both to himself and the townspeople but Tess, well – she simply grows up (some).