Thursday, April 12, 2012

HOME SWEET HOME by Bella Riley

An Emerald Lake Novel
Publisher: Forever
Date published: October 1, 2011
ISBN 9780446584210
Contemporary Romance
Reviewed by Lynne
Obtained via publisher.

Andi Powell, born and raised in the beautiful town of Emerald Lake, in the Adirondacks of upstate New York, left her cherished home to pursue her big city dreams, leaving behind the boy she loved, right when he needed her most. Ten years later she finally returns to her quiet, secluded haven, but only because she has a job to do, not because it has anything to do with Nate Duncan, her former love. At least part of her keeps telling herself that.

When she arrives home, she learns that Nate is now mayor of Emerald Lake and more handsome than ever. Unfortunately, he has the power to destroy all of her well-made plans, possibly ruining her career in the process, just as she broke his heart all those years ago. But as their feelings for one another resurface in a blazing way, both cannot deny how incomplete their lives are, as the truth behind Andi’s real reasons for leaving Emerald Lake come to light. Since both have failed to forget the love they once shared, they soon realize how important they are to one another. Andi, above all, also discovers how important her family is and how much Emerald Lake is a part of her, whether she wants to admit to it or not.

HOME SWEET HOME by Bella Riley is a heartwarming romance and a pleasant read. It will make readers yearn for a place like Emerald Lake to call their own.

The characters in HOME SWEET HOME quickly wiggle their way into your heart, especially our hero and heroine, Andi and Nate, who the reader can quickly tell still care for one other. Nate’s sister, Madison, is a sweetheart, and it doesn’t take long to feel her sneaking into your heart as you realize this poor little thing was raised with only a brother to fulfill all of her parenting needs.

I really like HOME SWEET HOME, especially the tragedy that led to Nate having to raise Madison on his own, despite all odds. And it is especially heartwarming to learn how wonderful the inhabitants of Emerald Lake are, knowing they care for their own and are willing to step up to the plate when needed. Helping Nate raise Madison was a sure-fire way for the town to show their true colors. Ms. Riley’s plotting here was a good way for the reader to get to know both Nate and the people of Emerald Lake, despite their faults and shortcomings. It isn’t hard to see how wonderful a man Nate Duncan is, especially after all he has been through, and it makes it easy for the reader to care for him so completely.

It is easy to empathize with Andi, too, as she struggles to keep her job, help out her family, despite dealing with town resentment and Nate’s feelings over her having returned with questionable motives toward Emerald Lake.

This well-written story quickly draws the reader in. I especially love the Lake Yarns knitting supply store owned by Andi’s family. It is easy to connect with some of the women of Emerald Lake who frequent the Monday night knitting group, so they can gossip and share knitting ideas. When Andi is forced to help manage the store, it seems inevitable that the knitters will affect her in a positive way at some point, especially when the town becomes aware of her on-going romance with Nate. The group itself makes the reader want to become a part of it because it charms you so thoroughly with its camaraderie and caring attitude.

HOME SWEET HOME is well-paced, with some interesting twists and turns, especially when Ms. Riley filters in Andi’s grandmother’s love story with Carlos. I love how the carousel seems to have affected the entire town in one way or another, adding some charming history and romance to it.

HOME SWEET HOME is an endearing story of community spirit, love, family values, and the romance of living in a small town like Emerald Lake. The charm of Emerald Lake is simply infectious, and I would recommend this story for anyone yearning, if only briefly, for a nice place to call home.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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