No Ordinary Home
I’ll give the author credit for taking risks. The lead heroine – because yes, there’s a strong secondary romance – has been homeless and on the run for the last six years. This isn’t a glossed over homelessness, she genuinely suffers the afflictions one would expect from living that type of life. But despite interesting characters, No Ordinary Home ultimately has too much going on, with too many serious problems resolved very quickly at the end, and I can’t recommend it.
Austin Trumball and Finn Caldwell – residents of the small town of Ordinary, Montana – are on a “buddy” road trip/fishing trip. The trip is disrupted when Austin catches a ‘boy” stealing his wallet while the two are waiting for a table in a Wyoming diner. As Deputy Sheriff of Ordinary, Austin’s had a lot of experience with criminals and quickly chases after the criminal, only to discover the thief is actually a woman.
This is the first time Gracie Travers has stooped to stealing in the last six years, but she’s starving. The author describes in full, realistic detail, the extent of Gracie’s hunger and obsession with food. It’s no surprise then that she’s willing to go with Austin when he offers to feed her in the diner. We learn quickly that Austin is a sucker for women in distress, and Gracie is definitely that. Almost despite himself, Austin continues to offer help to Gracie.
But Austin doesn’t know that Gracie isn’t what she seems. A former child star of a wildly popular show, she went underground six years earlier, and plans to resurface on her upcoming 30th birthday when she gains control of her money. Throw in every horrible story you’ve heard about Hollywood parents, and Gracie’s are probably 10 times worse. I found Gracie intriguing, and Austin’s backstory interesting as well, from his troubled childhood to his current issues with his mother. That would have been plenty for the story, and would have kept me entertained. Unfortunately, we get a lot more.
It turns out that while Finn is furious with Austin for feeding and then later letting Gracie join them on their trip, Finn’s actually on a secret mission. Finn’s been mourning for years since Melody, a young girl who suffered horrific injuries in a car accident, disappeared from Ordinary. Finn and Melody have had a secret correspondence for the last 10 years and Finn plans to meet up with her and take her to Texas on the “buddy” trip. Oh, and Finn has lied to Austin about his plans to see Melody.
When Melody’s story was introduced it was just too much for me. I felt that Austin’s and Gracie’s story was shortchanged by the introduction of this secondary story. Oh, and of course Melody has secrets as well. There were too many coincidences, and just too much going on here, with no single story given its full due. We have two heroes who are helping women in distress – and each criticizes the other for doing so.
I didn’t hate the book. The characters – especially Gracie – are quite interesting. All four of the main characters have a large number of major issues that are resolved far too quickly in the end. Do I believe that each of the couples is in love? Yes, I definitely do. But I wish the author had focused more on Gracie and Austin, and had saved Finn and Melody’s story for another book.