Upon the death of her grandmother, Ashley returns to sell the family home. There she discovers Matt comfortably ensconced in the guest house, taking care of the family estate.
His love for the architecture and past grandeur of the old mansion tempers Ashley’s memories of neglect and abuse at the hands of the matriarch, and the town. As she and Matt work together, they begin to get the place, and their lives, back in shape.
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RATING: 4 Stars
On the surface, Donna Steele’s ‘Homecoming’ is a very familiar story. Ashley Winsted, an orphan raised by her disapproving grandmother, returns home after the woman’s death to prepare the family house for sale. She meets Matt Taylor, whose aunt was the grandmother’s caretaker and who is now interested in fixing up and possibly buying the old house. They begin to work together on the house, falling in love along the way.
Yes, it’s a very familiar story. But Sommers weaves a variety of less interesting elements around and through this basic plot, making it very interesting to read. Ashley, who went to college on hard-earned scholarships, now earns her living as a popular romance writer. Matt had built a successful cosmopolitan career as a building designer and contractor, only to realize he wasn’t very happy in the city, so he came to this small town to live with his aunt and build a smaller career, working as a laborer remodeling and rebuilding old homes.
The couple starts working on the house together. We get to know more about them, as they learn about each other. Ashley’s childhood was difficult and unhappy, with her grandmother making sure the girl knew that her illegitimate birth was a disgrace, and she would always be on the outside. Gradually, as Matt hears of the pain in Ashley’s past, his protective instincts, learned growing up in a solid, supportive family, begin to take over. And the way her background is revealed is built into the couple’s efforts to fix up the old house, with different emotional experiences woven into discoveries made going through piles of old trash – and also learning about the high value of the antique furniture and ‘dustable’ knick-knacks. This pulls the reader all the way into the story, loving the characters and hoping for a happy ending.
‘Homecoming’ doesn’t have any tense, suspenseful sub-plots. There are no murder attempts, no shocking violence, drug use or suicide. But the emotions of the characters are still strong and true; their developing romance is interesting and believable; and all this makes the story very entertaining. Quite simply, reading this book made me relax and feel good. I believe it deserves 4 stars.
I’m grateful for the free reviewer’s copy I was given.
Reviewed by: Roberta