Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Book Review: Return to Homecoming Ranch (Pine River Book 2)

Return to Homecoming Ranch by Julia London

Format: eBook via Netgalley
Publisher: Montlake Romance

About the Book: Curly-haired Libby Tyler never stops smiling…until her beloved boyfriend suddenly forces her out of their home and away from his adoring kids. When she learns he dumped her for his flighty ex-wife, Libby’s sadness turns to fury—and she very publicly smashes his truck with a golf club, earning herself a trip to a mental health center for some “rest.”
Handsome, hazel-eyed deputy Sam Winters has been sober for two years. Afraid of backsliding, he lives in the mountains and keeps his distance from people. Yet he never forgot Libby, his former colleague at the sheriff’s office whose charm and cheerfulness always warmed his days.
Now Libby’s back, ignoring the townspeople’s whispers (and her ex’s restraining order) while desperately trying to make Homecoming Ranch a successful event destination. She keeps causing trouble for Sam, but he finds her smile more beautiful than ever…and his touch gives her thrills she’s never felt. Could these two lost souls mend each other’s broken hearts?
About the Author: Julia London is the New York TimesUSA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of more than twenty romantic fiction novels. Her historical romance titles include the popular Desperate Debutantes series, the Scandalous series, and the Secrets of Hadley Green series. She has also penned several contemporary women’s fiction novels with strong romantic elements, including the Pine River trilogy, Summer of Two WishesOne Season of Sunshine, and A Light at Winter’s End. She has won the RT Bookclub Award for Best Historical Romance, and has been a four-time finalist for the prestigious RITA Award for excellence in romantic fiction. She lives in Austin, Texas.

I have been a long time fan of Julia London's Historical Romance novels, and only a few years ago discovered her Contemporaries. Well, it doesn't matter if it's an assembly in a glittering London ballroom, or a ranch house of a dusty country road; the woman can write. Her multiple awards are nothing to sneeze at either.

 Return to Homecoming Ranch is the second novel in the Pine River series (the first was Homecoming Ranch) I don't think it is necessary to have read the first book in the series to understand the characters and the dynamics, but it would help. (It's also lovely to know all you can about this wonderful cast of characters)

Both main characters are flawed, not in the "I have a chipped tooth but I'm still adorable" way or even the "I wear mis-matched clothes and can't cook" way. But in the "I flipped out and bashed my ex-boyfriends car with a golf club" way (I'm sure we've all had days like that.) This doesn't make them bad people, it makes them people, and they are all the more likeable for it. Libby was just so sweet and goodhearted, it's impossible not to like her or relate to her. I could feel myself cringing at some of the situations that Libby finds (and puts) herself in, but I could also feel how she really didn't see or feel that she had much of a choice. It was heartwarming to watch the relationship between Libby and Sam develop. 
Sam has demons of his own, in the form of an ex-wife and a drinking problem. But he is a strong character, doing his best to survive.
Watching these two picking up the pieces of their old lives and eventually building a future together was wonderful. It had ups and downs, and some very low downs, but in the end love prevails.
The book deals with many issues that are not standard issue; alcoholism and PTSD to mention a couple. Julia does a masterful job of treating these issues seriously, but respectfully and helps to provide the human side of what is all too often misunderstood.

And then there's Leo. You may want to read the book for him alone. He's a former football stud with a motor neuron disease, but that doesn't stop him. He's charming, witty, observant and manipulative (in the best way) and still very much the stud. 

I highly recommend this book.

Return to Homecoming Ranch is available for purchase on amazon.com, and at Barnes and Noble as well as other book retailers.

About Homecoming RanchMadeline Pruett has made up for a lonely childhood and being raised by an irresponsible single mom by creating a solitary world where timetables and highlighters are essential for the predictability she craves. But Madeline is shocked out of her carefully constructed life by word that a father she never knew has died and left her an inheritance and, surprisingly, two unknown sisters. Madeline hopes that she can fly to Colorado, meet her sisters, discover her inheritance, and return to Orlando in a few days to close the biggest deal of her budding real estate career and get back to what she knows best: a quiet life.
For years, Luke Kendrick has juggled school and career and rescuing his family from illness, death and financial crisis. But he has never lost sight of his goals: building and selling his own dream homes. Just when it seems that dream might finally materialize, Luke is called home to Pine River, Colorado to reclaim the ranch his father lost in a gentlemen’s agreement. He is not surprised—Luke’s family knows he will put his life on hold to rescue them...again. But Luke is surprised by a sexy yet uptight button-up woman in impractical shoes who thinks his ranch now belongs to her.
Madeline isn’t sure how to put order to a sprawling, rundown ranch, not to mention a pair of sisters who are nothing like what she imagined or hoped them to be. The only thing she’s sure of is that careful planning is useless in a place where roads have names like Sometimes Pass and men as ruggedly handsome as Luke Kendrick behave so unpredictably.
As Luke and Madeline go toe to toe over the future of the ranch, sparks fly as hot and fiery as their kisses. Madeline thinks she’s the expert, but it’s Luke who teaches her a thing or two—about breaking down walls, finding home, and the true meaning of family.

Homecoming Ranch is available for purchase on amazon.com, as well as other book retailers.

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