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Returning Home

(Freedom Lake #1)

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  116 ratings  ·  67 reviews
Jo Ellen Baker is shocked to find out that the boy who teased her mercilessly throughout high school, has returned to their hometown of Freedom Lake, and he’s missing a leg. When his mother asks her to renovate their carriage house to give him a place to gain his independence back, she wants to say no. But one look at him brings a rush of forgotten feelings.

Evan Carter ca
Paperback, 294 pages
Published September 26th 2017 by Toni Shiloh
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Average rating 4.46  · 
Rating details
 ·  116 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Toni Shiloh
Jul 22, 2017 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Dear Readers,

I hope you enjoy a walk in Freedom Lake as you visit Jo and Evan in the first book of the series.

Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Returning Home

Toni Shiloh

Received from CelebrateLit for review

RETURNING HOME is the first book I've read by Toni Shiloh but it won't be my last. It is the first book in the Freedom Lake series. Once I started reading, I was emotionally invested in all of the characters and what they were going through. They are all facing struggles, both past and present, and are all pretty stubborn. Jo Ellen can't believe that the boy who teased her in high school is back in Freedom Lake. When his mother reache
Becky Smith
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have enjoyed every novel that I have read by this author. All are well-developed with well-developed characters that are easy to love, and easy to feel like I personally know them. Like the others, this novel is filled with tidbits & jewels that are inspiring. There are the wonderfully fun phrases like: “her thoughts … they resembled a jumbled-up Rubik’s cube.” And: “Her varying emotions were worse than a Chutes and Ladders game.” And: “words seemed to dance in the air…(like the) floating word ...more
Beth Erin
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Full review on Faithfully Bookish

Grief, loss, trials... they are part of living regardless of who you are, where you are from, or what you believe. At its core, this book is about life and faith and love and the TRUTH.

Jo Ellen Baker was bullied in high school, is nitpicked by her mother daily, and misses her deceased father dearly. Although Jo is blessed to have dear friends and her beloved grandma nearby to love and encourage her, she can't shake the feeling of being alone.

Evan Carter was just
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Returning Home is the first book in a new series. It is also the first of this author’s books that I have read. It will most definitely not be the last! The author created characters that I felt immediately invested in. And the community of Freedom Lake, well, I’m wishing that I could go visit there!

The main characters, and even the side characters, faced tough situations both in their pasts and in the present. These various events shaped their beliefs and oftentimes resulted in simmering anger
Mikal Dawn
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Such a sweet story of forgiveness, working through anger, and growing in faith and trust. Toni Shiloh is a beautiful author who can have you laughing in one sentence and tearing up in the next. Well done!!
Sarah Monzon
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you're in the mood for a sweet, Hallmark-type story, then this is the book for you!
Carrie Schmidt (Reading is My SuperPower)
Every book I read by Toni Shiloh is heartwarming and engaging, with a gentle romance and a sweet message of faith. Returning Home did not disappoint!

Two flawed, hurting characters struggling in both their faith in God and their trust in each other. I loved that Shiloh didn’t just stick a band-aid on their pain. Instead, she wrestled through it with them and therefore so do we, the readers. It’s an honest look at the tendency to turn our disappointment with life into anger at God.

One of my favori
`Returning Home` is a Christian romance novel by author Toni Shiloh. Toni dedicates this novel to God, the Author, and Finisher of her faith.

The prologue begins with a head-on collision. Then Chapter one is two months later. Evan is missing a leg because of the accident and is wheelchair bound. At thirty years of age, he is back living with and depending on, his parents. The deciding factor is should he continue living with his parents or move to his own place.

I was able to sense the feelings
Melissa Henderson
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful story of love, trust and faith. Heartwarming and inspiring. How we deal with our circumstances in life can affect us in many ways. This story gives encouragement and hope. Another excellent story by this author.
Debb Hackett
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a tremendous book. I loved every page and am dying for 2&3 to come out. From the clearly written characters to the cleverly infused spiritual growth and the really twisty plot, oh with the beautiful love story to boot. Win win and win. ...more
Marguerite Gray
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This contemporary novel introduces many interesting, deep emotional characters who live in Freedom Lake. The action is fast-paced with real-life dilemmas, thoughts, hopes, and dreams. Thank you Toni for another great read.
Andrea Boyd
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Strong characters with lots of chemistry, Returning Home is a sweet romance full of healing and forgiveness and well worth the effort.
Jan 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Returning Home

This was a hard review for me to write. "Returning Home" is a good story; it's inspirational, wholesome, and filled with forgiveness and healing. These are the things that make it stand out, but I struggled with this book because it was very predictable and formulaic. There were a few times that I groaned in frustration because I knew what was going to happen next. Is this a book I would tell others to stay away from? No. Would I read other books by this author? Yes. What I will sa
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-reviewed
Returning Home is a tender story of forgiveness, healing and love.
Has it ever been hard to forgive someone who’s deeply hurt you?
Have you ever felt so broken both physically and emotionally that you don’t want to move? Well, both characters in this story are right there.
They knew each other years ago, they were even friends, yet, high school years can be hard, and often cruel.
Jo knows this first hand because Evan was that one boy who hurt her soul deeply, and she thought she’d never see him ag
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this story of forgiveness and love. While the story is fiction, the truths in here are very real and can be applied in our own lives daily. Jo Baker is one of the the main characters and I just found her loveable and sweet. Evan is another main character and I found him to be quite an amazing man. I loved seeing the spiritual growth in the characters lives, as well as a blossoming relationship between Jo and Evan. This book was hard to put down! I'm looking forward to book 2 in ...more
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh man. What a story of love, forgiveness and redemption. It really tugged some heart strings and I had legitimate tears pooling in my eyes on several occasions with such moving moments. Good tears! I was so involved with the characters that it got me right in the feels.

The chemistry between Evan and Jo was just amazing. When Evan's smile was described, I could almost see it just lighting up the page. It was so easy to imagine the story in my mind because of the descriptive language. This was t
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Returning Home by Toni Shiloh is the most delightful Christian romance. It is the first book in the Freedom Lake series and I cannot wait for the rest.
The novel deals with loss - the loss of a planned future that creates a hardening of the heart towards God. "He and God weren't on speaking terms." A belief that God has abandoned us is a lie from the enemy. God is always with us and walks alongside us in our pain. He waits for us to return. "Until you turn back to God, you'll have no peace... bit
Carole Jarvis
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reviewed at The Power of Words:

I enjoyed this story very much and am glad to have discovered the writing of Toni Shiloh. On the surface, Returning Home seems like a sweet contemporary romance, but there’s a lot of emotion, complexity, and spiritual depth to explore. Set in the picturesque lakeside community of Freedom Lake, this relationship-driven story has appealing leading characters in Jo and Evan, as well as strong secondary characters.

I loved that we’re not given “per
Fiction Aficionado
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well, the sparks sure do fly in this novel—once the frosty atmosphere lifts for long enough for them to light up, anyway! Jo Ellen Baker and Evan Carter seem to have enough angst in their lives without adding each other into the mix, but that’s exactly what happens when Evan has to return home and Jo is asked to do the renovations that will better accommodate his new situation. What’s more, neither of them is happy with God. Evan is angry about his accident, and Jo resents the fact that she’s lo ...more
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thought that the author did a fabulous job of putting her characters in the right time and place.
I enjoyed this novel because it was a sweet and clean read. It also kept me burning midnight oil because I enjoyed it so much!!
I could tell that this author's heart was pouring out her love for God in her awesome writing. ( I hope there's another book after this one cause I want to see what happens to Guy) by meaning if he accepts Christ.
I accepted Christ a long time ago but sometimes I feel myself
Courtney Clark
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Returning Home is a poignant story of healing, faith, and friendship. More than just a sweet and naturally-progressing romance relationship, the intertwining relationships of the characters, including Jo, Evan, and their close friend group, are a testament to the ways you can choose to react to life changes and challenges.

There is a prominent thread of faith I loved in this story. It's fleshed out in both Evan and Jo as they deal with forgiveness and relying on God's never-changing strength in c
Tanya M
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Returning Home is a story of love, forgiveness, and perseverance. It kind of reminds me of a Christian version of the sitcom, Friends, if you can imagine that. There's never a dull moment. I'm looking forward to reading the next installment to find out more about the residence of Freedom Lake.
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance, ownedpb
This was a book to which I could really relate. When Jo didn't see the chair, but the man in it...WOW! I was in a wheelchair for ten years...I still have to use one. When people ask me how I ended up with my husband ( who married me, disabled and all), I always tell them that he was the only guy I ever met that really saw ME! He didn't see the chair, and he has never viewed me as handicapped.

It's somewhat difficult to find books that have heroes or heroines that aren't perfect...nice looks, perf
Caitlyn Santi
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Yet another fabulous read by Toni Shiloh! I loved both Jo and Evan and it was a such a joy to watch their relationship come about, as well as see their faith in God strengthen. Speaking of which, the faith story is always my favorite part of Toni's books and this one was no exception. The awesomeness of this story's faith thread left me in awe of Toni's amazing writing and was just exactly what my heart needed to hear right now! I loved the town of Freedom Lake and look forward to visiting again ...more
Author Toni Shiloh has written a beautiful and touching Hallmark movie style novel that readers will thoroughly enjoy. From page one, readers will fall in love with the strong spirited characters. This story is about a friendship gone wrong and wounds from the past opened fresh; but it is also about finding a way to mend an old friendship. Shiloh brings life and voice to her charming characters and delightful story. This is a sweet, fun, emotional, inspirational, and romantic novel that readers ...more
Jessica Baker (A Baker's Perspective)
Returning Home is so much more than a book about a character returning to his home town. It is about growing, working out the struggles in your faith, and returning home to the Lord. Okay, and there's a little romance in there too, but it is done so softly and slowly that I felt it was really more about the characters connecting as friends. And rightly so, I might add, as their past was kind of a colorful one.

Ms. Shiloh had me hooked right from the Prologue. I imagine about fifty different ways
Marie Pinkham
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Returning Home is a novel full of deep emotions, ones that speak to the hearts of its characters. Evan is bitter and angry about the accident that took his leg and the woman he loved. Jo is dealing with her own hurts after the loss of her loving dad, and trying to cope with her difficult mother.
Though friends in grammar school, when high school began, Evan chose instead to make Jo an object of his teasing and ridicule, leaving her hurt and angry at the change in Him.
Now, years later, they meet a
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Toni Shiloh has a sweet way about her writing. Even when she designs characters that are struggling, she has the ability to make the story surrounding them sweet. I really enjoy diving into her stories, and Returning Home was a pleasant read. I thought that Jo Ellen and Evan were a dynamic pair, even when they didn’t see it.

Full Review:
Abby Breuklander
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Love this story!! Trusting God can be so hard when it seems like our world is spinning out of control, with one hit after another. It's in these moments where leaning on Him and believing in His promises are the only thing that can keep our heads about water. But once we know that He is always with us and for us, turning horrible situations into something good for His glory, all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place and we can see that He had us in His hands all along.
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Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

Other books in the series

Freedom Lake (3 books)
  • Grace Restored (Freedom Lake #2)
  • Finally Accepted  (Freedom Lake #3)

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