Sometimes a simple, uncomplicated story is just what you need to hit the right spot. Mariah Stewart’s Coming Home is a story of starting over and finding love where one least expects it.
After two failed marriages and a life of insecurity, Vanessa Keaton is finally content with her lot in life. With the help of her half brother and his father, she accepted an opportunity to start over by opening her own successful clothing boutique. In three years she turned her life around completely. In the romance department, however, she’s not sure if she even wants to go down that road again, or at least not until she meets Grady Shields, her future sister-in-law’s brother.
Grady Shields, former FBI, moved to Montana to get away after the horror of his wife’s murder and his brother’s betrayal and the last thing he wants is a romantic entanglement. The only thing that can get him back east is family and this time it’s his sister’s wedding. However, his introduction to Vanessa during pre-ceremony activities sparks his interest and he realizes the week may be far more exciting than he anticipated.
With matchmaking friends forcing them together for various events, Grady and Vanessa eventually decide to act on their attraction. The fact that they act like mature adults when they make this decision is one of the things I really liked about the book. While the attraction develops, there is also a suspense element weaving its way into the plot that threatens Vanessa’s safety as the wedding festivities wind down. Always the agent, Grady decides to extend his stay until he knows she’s safe.
The story is essentially about two realistic characters rebuilding lives after disastrous past relationships. Though I found her past more realistically made up of really dreadful choices on her part and his simply manufactured for conflict, I felt both handled their relationship and the problems it presented with maturity as it’s difficult to give up what you’ve created for yourself for another individual. The heroine doesn’t have the best past and she’s remade herself with help from others and is grateful for that help. Plus, I found the interactions with secondary characters both humorous and meaningful.
The suspense plot, while light, drives the momentum of the second half of the book. I liked the fact that it’s not too terribly dark and angsty and, of course, allows the hero to act heroically.
Coming Home is a simple, yet heartfelt story that makes for a perfect accompaniment to a lazy afternoon. Loosely linked to other books by the author, it’s the first installment of The Chesapeake Diaries series and, while it’s my first of Ms. Stewart’s books, I’m sure it won’t be my last.