Book Title: Homebound
Author: Kata Čuić
Release Date: September 9th, 2020
Synopsis: This second chance romance follows Lenore Wheeler coming back to her small town after five years, with her kid in tow. Only to come face-to-face with the boy she left behind all those years ago. And now they’ve got to work through their issues, secrets and try and fix what they broke. But can they do it?
Review: I love me a second chance romance as much as the next person and this one was so angsty and so wonderful. It’s filled with small town drama, warm family feels and pain that can only be expressed in tears. Lenore and Jesse are a treat, but also so complicated.
“Your love is gonna get me through the impossible.”
My one issue with the book was keeping in line with the way the characters spoke. I understood the need to keep it authentic for the region, but it was really difficult to read and process. I struggled at points to not get caught up in the little details, but it wasn’t always successful. The other was the jumping to the past and back to the present. At one point, I wasn’t sure if we were seeing the past/present through Lenore or Jesse’s eyes and that was a little confusing. But all that aside, this book delivered all the feels and the pain and the desperate need to have these two main characters get their act together.
“You’re a bright shinin’ light in a world full of darkness, Nora. Don’t let anyone put out your fire. I’d miss it sorely if it were extinguished.”
Lenore and Jesse are childhood friends. It all starts with her defending him from a mean boy on the playground and it grows from there. Jesse is a proud boy and he doesn’t want anybody to help him. Even Lenore and her family. But she doesn’t care. When he starts sneaking into her tree house to escape his mother and her nightly activities, Lenore starts to keep Jesse company. And their conversations go from pretty girls to kissing to everything in between. It’s such an innocent friendship that blossoms into a beautiful relationship. But even then, Jesse refuses to let his guard down and let Lenore see past what’s on the surface. Lenore’s parents even take Jesse under their wing, making sure that he has food in his belly, money in his pocket and love in his heart.
The flashbacks take us through Lenore and Jesse’s relationship as they grow up. It’s really quite beautiful to experience, because you can see how they both grow as individuals and together. My favourite scenes were where Lenore and Jesse were learning together. All that pretending and learning really did pay off! I also love that Lenore is such a tough little girl, she fights Jesse at every turn, making sure he understands that she’s not doing anything out of pity, but because she loves him and he’s her best friend. Often, we’re reminded that mountain men are too proud for their own good and that’s very true for Jesse.
“Pretendin’ is just dreamin’ with our eyes wide open. And I’m dreamin’ about the day ya don’t have to work your fingers to the bone in the mines like my daddy. I’m pretending enough money will make your mama all better. I’m imagining our babies growing up with the love of a mama and a daddy.”
So Lenore is now back in town and she’s taking over teaching at the school where she studied. It’s a little run down and a little backward and kids are not getting proper education – include sex ed – and she wants to make a difference. Enter the new principal – Jesse Yates. And you hit the ground running with how intense the love is between these two. Lenore keeps trying to ignore what she feels for Jesse and he, on the other hand, keeps wanting to get a second chance. I love that we got to see how much work the two of them put into making the school a better place, because that’s why they’re both home. And this town clearly runs on gossip, so Lenore having a little girl out of wedlock becomes everyone’s favourite topic, while an old school friend is trying to snag Jesse as her new husband, causing more chaos. It’s all so entertaining, though.
Jesse is determined to be in Lenore’s life and I love how he does everything under the sun to make that happen. Including being a part of Lenore’s daughter – Anne’s – life. He’s so certain that that’s where he’s meant to be that he won’t let anything come in the way of him finding his one true love again. There’s a lot of back and forth and Lenore pushing Jesse away as he pushes back. And then her parents get involved where they shouldn’t. It’s quite something to read and experience. But it all comes full circle to right where Jesse and Lenore need to be. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions and feelings and by the end, you’re just so relieved.
Thanks to Kata Čuić and Wildfire Marketing Solutions for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.