Take Me Home
As with many books I read, Take Me Home is something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, I liked the characters and the setting. However, the Big Secret in this story took way too long to get uncovered and as the book went on, my annoyance with the hero’s secret keeping interfered with my enjoyment a bit.
Set in West Virginia, this book revolves around some of the traditional businesses that dominate parts of the state – logging and the sale of agricultural products. I spent a few years living not far from the state border, and I was familiar with the towns and cities mentioned throughout the story, and I have to say that the descriptions mostly rang true. Matt Shaw, our hero, grew up in West Virginia and one of the defining moments of his life came when his father lost his job and eventually ended up losing the farm which had been in the family for generations. The family was homeless for a time and the memories of that poverty filled him with shame but also spurred him on in his ambitions to be self-sufficient.
Now in a supervisory role as a forester for a logging company, Matt finds himself in charge of a new job – harvesting timber at his family’s old farm. When he first goes out to the property, Matt and the new owner, Kayla Edwards, are very obviously attracted to one another. Kayla takes the initiative and asks Matt out, and I suspect many readers will find her straightforward attitude refreshing just as I did. Flirtation turns almost immediately into something much hotter. This is definitely one of those relationships where lust and attraction take center stage first, but love and friendship follow closely behind. Matt and Kayla are both enjoyable characters, and Inez Kelley writes this dynamic between them very well.
Of course, there’s more to the story than just the relationship. Kayla has bought the farm, but now she has to keep it. In addition to her herb business, she dreams of bringing the remnants of the old maple syrup operation on the property back to life. Unknown to her, Matt’s family ran that same operation shortly before losing the property so her decision takes him back to all kinds of painful places in his past – which of course he doesn’t bother to tell her about.
And therein lies the problem. Matt and Kayla share a lot with one another and start building a high level of both physical and emotional intimacy, but somehow Matt just cannot bring himself to tell her about his history. And he just keeps on hiding it. Even stranger, the story takes place in a small town and many of the other characters have roots in that town. So, why does no one think to clue Kayla in about who she’s dating? That remained a great mystery. Readers know Matt’s secret from the very beginning, but it takes forever for the heroine to find out and the length of time that she remains ignorant in this small, gossipy town starts to strain credulity in a pretty major way. In addition, because the build-up to the conflict took so long to develop, the resolution felt a little light by comparison.
Aside from that issue, though, I enjoyed reading Take Me Home. It’s one of the rare books where I like most of the characters encountered, and both the background of the timber business and the setting itself make for interesting reading. This book is first in a trilogy and you can spot leads for the sequels from a mile away, but they’re such enjoyable characters that I really didn’t mind and I’ll definitely be looking for their stories.