The Long Way Home
Even though I review a lot of small town romances, I can say that the pull is not the small town, but the time spent building relationships and the sense of community. That is something that Ms. Stewart does very well. So even though I have forgotten more characters in St. Dennis, Maryland than I remember, I still feel compelled to read each new release in this series.
Ellis Chapman’s life has dramatically changed in the last year. After her father and fiancé’s Ponzi scheme is exposed, suspicion falls on her. Even though ultimately she is able to prove that she knew nothing of the scheme, she still loses everything – her savings, her apartment, her car and of course no one wants to hire her.
She always was a daddy’s girl and since her father thought St. Dennis unsophisticated and provincial, she spent her vacations in exotic locales with him and eschewed spending time in St. Dennis when her mother visited. Discovering that she has inherited a house from her mother couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, especially since this asset can’t be seized. However, her inheritance comes with conditions: she must live in the house for six months before she can sell it. Since the house has been empty for so long, it needs major renovations and repair. Since she is un-hirable, she plans on doing more of the simple projects herself in hopes of increasing the resell value of the home. So Ellis becomes Ellie in order to avoid more gossip about the scandal, and moves to St. Dennis.
For Cameron O’Connor, the house on Bay View Road has special memories. He is notably upset and let down when he discovers that it has been sold out from under him to an out-of-towner, when the attorney handling the former owner’s estate knew that he wanted the house. Still he can’t stay angry at the new owner. However, he doesn’t understand why Ellie doesn’t sell the house to him now if she’s planning on selling it anyway in six months, especially since as an experienced contractor he is not put off by the many needed repairs.
But Ellie is firm on the time limit. Since she obviously doesn’t have any experience in flipping houses, he offers to help. If he is going to buy the house then he doesn’t want to have to come in and redo shoddy work.
Something about Ellie’s situation and her secretiveness is not right. Cameron knows about secrets, particularly since he has his own.
This is the sixth book in the Chesapeake Diaries series, but this book can be read as a stand-alone. There are numerous characters from previous books that come in and out of the story, but it is not truly necessary to know their background. Although as someone who has read all the books, I feel like I should remember all the particulars of their stories, the names all run together. Part of the reason is that even though I love Ms. Stewart’s amiable and likable characters, they are not truly unique. The conflict keeping the couple apart varies from book to book but the personality traits, not so much. Since many authors do this, and since I like their personality traits, I do keep reading the books.
One of the nicest parts of this book is how it exemplifies how doing the right thing, and not turning a blind eye, can dramatically impact another individual’s life. Perhaps I am a little more sensitive to this because of all the scandals this past year, but this message struck a chord.
Of course part of the story is about Ellie learning to trust again, that not all individuals pre-judge her based on gossip and news reports. Her recognition of this fact and her acceptance into the community is low key but nice.
Ellie starts doing some renovations to the house. Simple things really, like taking down wallpaper, painting kitchen cabinets, pulling up old flooring. Still, I found it interesting. Plus, while not all items in the house have special significant to her, she is appreciative of their history.
Fans of this series will no doubt enjoy this latest release even it seems fairly predictable.