If you don’t like reviews of half-finished books (in this case up to chapter 7) then don’t read any further. Moving on. Picking a category book for this month’s challenge gave me a couple of false starts, the first one being Ms. Lee’s A Soldier’s Homecoming(2008) (A Return to Conard County).
The book started off great and the cover already gave me some idea of what to expect: angst, suspense, a reserved war hero returning home. It’s unfortunate this book broke down due to my incredulity at the events that place in this story.
Ex-soldier, Ethan Parish, has been released on medical leave from Walter Reed hospital after serving one tour in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan. He comes to Conard County in search of a father who doesn’t know he has a son. Ethan gets picked up for hitchhiking by Deputy Connie Halloran. She chastises him for his hitchhiking and then offers him a ride into town.
They make small talk and she hands him over to sheriff Gage Dalton. For Gage, Ethan looks…familiar. After a few pointed questions, Gage learns the truth behind Ethan’s visit. He even offers his help in tracking down his father.
Getting back to Connie, she’s a single mom who has recently moved back to Conard County. City living didn’t suit her much. Things get serious when her daughter is almost kidnapped walking home from school. The stranger even knows her daughter’s name. Connie immediately suspects the new stranger in town but that gets shot down quickly because it’s improbable.. Ethan had been meeting his father for the first time while all of this was going down.
Getting back to Ethan, his family reunion goes well. All of his nervousness about his reception was for naught. Even his father’s second wife embraces him into the bosom of the family. Everything goes swimmingly well. Not one word of hurt or regret, just a sense of acceptance. Since I didn’t finish reading this story, I can’t say if this was true throughout the story or if those feelings had changed.
Here is where the plot starts to deteriorate for me. Gage, the sheriff, decides to deputize Ethan in the wake of the near kidnap of Connie’s daughter. Not only that, he asks Ethan to move in with Connie and her daughter in order to better protect them. Huh? Connie embraces the idea despite the fact that a) he’s a stranger and b) she had suspected him to be the culprit at one point and c) he’s a freaking stranger d) nobody knows him from Adam considering this all took place within a day
My eyes rolled so much over the plot that I gave myself a headache and had to stop. I tried to move forward but just couldn’t. I just cannot accept that premise.
As readers we bring a lot of baggage to our reading. There’s no getting around that. I have zero tolerance for stuff that doesn’t make any logical sense let alone common sense. But hey, some readers enjoy a world where everything is golden and where everybody trusts everybody unless they’re given a reason not to but I’m not one of those people. You have to earn my trust. It is not given freely.
With that said, I’m sure my response to this romance is a minority one and my loss, naturally. Usually I enjoy Rachel Lee’s stories but not this one. I was well into half the novel before I had to stop and find something else to read. It’s a DNF. Other fans of this series would probably enjoy this more than I did.