The Homecoming is my type of romantic suspense. While there is a mystery, it never dominates the story; the focus is almost completely on the hero and heroine and their relationship. I enjoyed this one from beginning to end.
Kara Conway and Sax Douchett knew each other growing up in Shelter Bay. While Sax was attracted to her as a teenager, Kara was in love with and married one of Sax’s friends.
Sax (yes, I hate that name) is a former Navy SEAL now back home in Shelter Bay. I’ll have to admit that the minute I read Navy SEAL, I assumed Sax was going to be a super-macho hero. I was wrong. Sax is recovering from his experiences in Afghanistan, and not only dreams about, but sees his dead comrades at inopportune times. When his dog finds a human bone on the beach outside his house, Sax doesn’t try to investigate, but instead does what any intelligent person would do – he calls the sheriff’s department.
Turns out, the temporary sheriff of Shelter Bay is Kara. A lot has happened since those childhood days. Kara married her high school sweetheart, had a child with him, and is now struggling to get on with her life after her husband’s death. When her father – the former sheriff of Shelter Bay – died, Kara accepted the position as temporary sheriff, happy to move to a safer environment with her young son. Kara and her son are living with her mother, a surgeon with whom Kara never had a close relationship.
The author does a wonderful job with character development. While we get a mystery right from the beginning, the focus remains on building character, and establishing the relationship between Sax and Kara. Both Kara and Sax have experienced loss, and are dealing with grief in their own ways. However, rather than feeling heavy, the book, and the characters, felt sweet. Rather than wallowing in their grief, Kara and Sax are both both about working through their grief, and moving on with their lives.
Kara and Sax are well suited to each other. They’re each intelligent, brave, tough, and basically nice people. I especially appreciated that Sax respects Kara as sheriff, and doesn’t attempt to push her aside and do her job. I felt that the development of Sax’s relationship with Kara’s son was realistic.
There’s a nice secondary romance involving Kara’s mother and a deputy sheriff, but it never supplants Kara and Sax’s story.
If you like more emphasis on the suspense than romance in your romantic suspense and like a lot of grisly details, this is not the book for you. The suspense plot is solved fairly quickly and matter of factly, at the end of the book, with nary a single episode of villain POV.
A few of JoAnn Ross’s older contemporary romances have a special place on my DIK shelf. I haven’t read a lot of her books in recent years, as her romantic suspense novels have been a bit hit or miss for me. I’m glad I took a chance on this one, as I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am looking forward to more entries in the Shelter Bay series.