The Way Home
by Eliana West
Release Date: May 18, 2021
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Book #2 in the Heart of Colton series
Number of pages: 224
Source: ARC from publisher
Contemporary Romance M/F
Read 5/16/21 to 5/17/21
A letter from the past will transform their future…
Taylor Colton always loved the crumbling plantation house passed down through his family for generations. Now he’s bringing his popular renovation reality show to the small town of Colton, Mississippi, so he can bring the plantation house known as Halcyon back to life for the cameras.
After an ugly breakup, Josephine Martin needs a new start to heal her broken heart in peace. A hidden letter reveals a family secret that leads her to Colton to protect her family’s history and honor a promise made before the Civil War…and to a house she didn’t know was hers.
Suddenly, Josephine must decide if she’s ready for the challenge of restoring a run-down mansion and its history, and Taylor’s facing a challenge he can’t charm away. Together, they must untangle a tragic history, a rocky relationship, and risk everything they love. Can they overcome the past to find their way home?
If you’ve been hanging around my review for a while, you may remember my review from The Way Forward, the first book in this series. While I was taken with the author’s story idea and characters, I was angry about the lack of attention her editors seemed to give that book. So much potential with so much disappointment. When the offer to review an ARC of this book came across my email, I hesitated. I have a full plate, but really want this author to be given a fair shot…by me, by her publisher, by her editor. So I decided I had to find time and hope this story was given the polish this author warrants. I’m so pleased to say this story was excellent in all ways.
It’s not really necessary to read the first book in order to understand and enjoy this book. It will definitely help the reader to understand the town and some subtle of the shifts that have taken place in the recent past. But this story can truly stand on its own.
Once again, as with the first story, I’m not sure if I would have forgiven the hero if I was Jo. I believe it’s mentioned a time or two that he seems to be willfully ignorant when it comes to certain people in his life. Yet he has a definite connection to Jo and to the house, Halcyon. And, to his credit, he eventually gets his head out of his ass and then seems to be genuinely appalled by the things he let slide by over the years. In the beginning, it’s easy to think of Taylor as a spoiled rich semi-celebrity who is just living the family role or entitled land owner. It becomes clear that he isn’t as he seems and he truly cares about the history of Halcyon, even when that history doesn’t paint his family in a very flattering light.
Jo is a spitfire. Not only does she not shuffle Halcyon’s racist past under the rug, she takes the time and effort to explain why certain things (plantation tours, using the grounds as a wedding venue) are hurtful to many people. It’s not her job to school Taylor, or anyone else, on racism. And often she’s so frustrated and hurt by Taylor’s actions that she doesn’t have the energy to spell things out for him. She shouldn’t have to, and she makes that clear. But she’s always open to talking things out with him and helping to guide him when he shows an openness to actually hearing what she is saying.
I’m kind of pussy-footing around here because I don’t want to give any spoilers. I want you to know that this book has an important message and it’s given in a way that doesn’t feel like a lecture. The underlying message of the book never took me out of the story or felt forced. Along with the message is a wonderful love story with chemistry and heart. While I hadn’t fully decided on if I’d keep up with this series after the first book, this book cemented my resolve to throw my support behind this author. It really showed me that I was correct in my assumption that the problems with the last story had more to do with the editing and not much to do with the author. At this point, I’m all in and will try to wait patiently for the next book, which I’m hoping will be Mae’s HEA that’s been being teased since the beginning.
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**