Maria's Reviews > Home Again

Home Again by Mariah Stewart
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Mar 23, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: romance
Recommended for: series romance, beach read
Read from March 18 to 19, 2012 — I own a copy , read count: 1

My main comment about this novel is that it reads like a soap opera: The plot focuses on a group of core couples, with a bunch of supporting characters on the periphery that the reader can already tell will get their own stories. The reader is supposed to be following movie star Dallas MacGregor as she returns to her hometown and reconnects with the family and friends she left behind in search of fame and fortune. Dallas is in the middle of a divorce from her scandal-plagued director husband, and the stress of his actions is too much for their young son, so Dallas retreats to the peaceful St. Dennis to clear her head and gain perspective.

This peace is threatened by the discovery that her first love, veterinarian Grant Wyler, is also in town. Grant is now a divorced single father himself, and it looks like this star-crossed pair might finally have a chance to live happily ever after. But, as in real life, old hurts don’t just fade away, and Dallas and Grant have to figure out how to settle old disagreements before they can move forward. But then the unthinkable happens: Dallas’ son goes missing, her ex-husband descends on the town, and her relationship with Grant is put under incredible strain.

The story is a little cheesy, but once I was hooked I wanted to find out what happened next and couldn't stop watching. The plot even moves with the slowness of a television serial: The reader gets to spend time with the inner thoughts of at least a half a dozen characters, and the shifting POV further detracts from the focus on what is supposed to be the primary couple. This definitely waters down much of the emotion and connection to these characters and, while it's good for building a series that will soon include a fifth book, it didn't feel like the main characters ever really had much of a chance to stand center stage. Despite this, I really enjoyed Stewart’s exploration of how our teenage years stay with us—we don’t just ‘get over’ our youth, and it shapes us in permanent ways that are important. I also appreciated her measured introduction of characters: By the time another supporting character gets their book the reader has already had a chance to learn about them, and the novel can spend more time on plot development.

I will also add that I’m still not a fan of the diary aspect of the novel, as written by Grace Sinclair, an elderly character who has lived in St. Dennis all her life. The entries felt like a rehash of everything I had just read, and screamed "JUST IN CASE YOU WEREN'T PAYING ATENTION DURING THE LAST COUPLE OF CHAPTERS!" These diary entries would have been a lot more interesting if they had offered some insight or secret insider knowledge, that is, after all, what diaries in novels are for, but they never seem to function in a productive way in this book. The little surprise twist Grace offers in the first book of this series isn't explored further, and it makes me wonder if that was an anomaly and if ‘Gracie’s’ back story will be explored in an interesting way in future books.

Another somewhat forgettable aspect of the narrative is the near tragedy involving Dallas’ son: This event takes place so close to the end of the novel and over a span of so few pages that it was difficult to be too worried. When the climax of the story finally does arrive, it happens quickly, and there is very little suspense or question about how everything will be resolved.

Although this story never truly moved me, it did catch my interest enough to want to know what happens to the citizens of St. Dennis. I like Mariah Stewart's writing style, and the characters she has created feel real; I am compelled to return to St. Dennis to find out how everybody else's story goes. This is the second book I’ve read and I find that it isn't a series that has managed to rise above simple 'like’ that will send me rushing to recommend it all my fellow romance lovers. It's a good story, however, set in an interesting community, and would be an entertaining read for a lazy weekend or beach read. I would recommend this series to those readers who like series romance with a strong sense of community.
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