The Way Home

Grade : B-
Reviewed by Mary Skelton
Grade : B-
Book type : Contemporary Romance
Sensuality : Warm
Review Date : November 1, 2013
Published On : 2013/11

This book is a slight departure from Cindy Gerard’s typical romantic suspense novels and I had a bit of a difficult time deciding how to categorize it. There are elements of suspense in the book, but it was not really a suspenseful novel. So, I just decided to go with the more inclusive and generic contemporary category and will let each reader decide the matter. I was also a little conflicted about grading this book. It is a refreshing novel in some ways, but it lacks that certain something extra that can take a solid book into DIK territory.

When Jess Albert’s husband was killed in Afghanistan, she left her life as a nurse and retreated to the family home in Minnesota in order to grieve. For the past four years she has been running the family store in a rural area that turns into a tourist Mecca in the summer and leading a life that is more existence than living.

Jess Albert first met Tyler Brown when a kidnapping brought him to Jess Albert’s town. She assisted his team in thwarting the kidnappers and each felt a romantic spark begin to kindle during the high stress rescue attempt. Jess expected Tyler to call her after everything returned to normal, but a year passed and Jess never heard a word. Suddenly Tyler shows up with no warning to see if that spark can be fanned into a relationship that is special. Jess is torn between letting go of her grief for J. R. and trusting a man who left her high and dry. She is also hesitant to get involved with another male who places himself in danger and puts duty before family.

Tyler Brown felt a connection with Jess Albert from the beginning. Why he took over a year to act on it is something the reader must discover over the course of the book. Once he decided to reenter Jess’s life, his mind is pretty much made up. He wants a future with her. Now he just has to convince Jess that he is a solid bet.

Thousands of miles away, an unnamed American soldier has escaped from years of imprisonment and is rescued by a widowed Afghan woman very entrenched in her Muslim faith. Rabia begins as a reluctant rescuer, but over time comes to respect her American soldier. As more time passes, her feelings grow stronger, but Taliban patrols threaten the life of this soldier and Rabia knows she needs to find a way to contact Americans in Afghanistan and let them get her soldier out of the country.

While there is some suspense about the eventual plight of the American soldier, much of what happens in this story is revealed to the reader early on. The characters are left in suspense, but the readers are not. I would also hesitate to call this book character driven because it falls a little short of that. What we have in The Way Home is a combination of the two that almost works.

This book is not so much a love triangle as a love square and that takes both a little of the mystery out of the story and leaves too little time to develop all of the relationships involved. I liked all of the characters and their stories and that is what made the book for me. I think Cindy Gerard does romantic suspense very well and for the most part I did enjoy the book. However, I was left a little wanting because the focus was split to such a degree that there was not sufficient depth of character to really get to know any of them as well as I would have liked. Either the book needed to be a little longer (and at 336 pages this could have easily happened) or the stories each needed a separate book. The ending was never in doubt, but the writing was good enough that I wanted to get to it anyway. The secondary characters could have been much more interesting if more time had been devoted to their development and J.R.’s brother begins as a character that impacted the heroine in a major way and then he just fizzles in the latter part of the book.

If my review is a tad schizophrenic, then I think that is related to how this book plays out. All of these criticisms would seem to add up to a much lower rating, but the book despite its flaws was still worth my time. However, if I had paid the retail price of $19.99 I do not think it would have been worth my money. But if it’s on sale, I would encourage Cindy Gerard fans to give it a try.

Mary Skelton

I am from Alabama where I live with my husband of over 30 years in our now empty nest. Our three adult children have flown the coop and my husband and I are getting ready to build that retirement house in the next few years when I hope to have even more time for reading. I am a lifelong reader and while I read primarily romance, I enjoy most genres. If an author can tell a good story, I will read it.
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