A Mother's Homecoming by Tanya Michaels
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I think it's clear by now that series titles aren't my thing. The rigid and short page counts often leads to a compressed story that fails to satisfy me. A Mother's Homecoming is not necessarily exempt from this as this would have been a five star book if there had more meat to the ending.
This is a unique book because, from the get-go, the reader is not predisposed to like the heroine. A recovering alcoholic, Pamela Jo abandoned her husband and daughter. She's returned to her hometown to make amends, but she thinks Nate and Faith now live elsewhere. She's wrong.
What I loved about this book is that Pamela isn't necessarily apologetic about her actions in abandoning her family. She felt she had her reasons and that she made the best possible decision. When I started the book, I was not inclined to be sympathetic towards Pamela Jo at all. However, as the book progressed and I got to know the character, I warmed up to her. Going in, I had a negative outlook about a mother abandoning her child. By the end, I could understand why Pamela Jo felt she had to leave.
I also liked that the relationships between Pamela Jo and Nick, and Pamela & Faith, were developed as naturally as the constrained book format allowed. Nick was understandably hostile and protective of his daughter. Even by the end, he was still referring to Faith as 'his' daughter. Faith is naturally curious about her mother and acts out, but she's smart enough to go the 'model child' route after a brief detour in 'troublemaker' zone.
Even the ending was more of a 'happily right now' than 'ever after.' It was a more abrupt ending than I would have liked, but I think Michaels did the best she could with what she had. Overall, this book was excellent. So far, I think this is my favorite series title out of all the nominees I've read so far. I leave you with a bit that tickled me.
"[Leigh] glanced past Dawn, and the smile wobbled slightly when she spotted her former sister-in-law. '[The cookies]'re sort of a housewarming gift, I guess. I understand you had furniture moved out to Mae's old place this week.'
"'Thank you.' Pam was touched. And deeply suspicious. Maybe she should have a lab in one of the bigger cities test the cookies before she ate any" (pg173).
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