The Road Leads Back, Stonehill Romance Book One, Marci Boudreaux
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction
Well, there’s a slew of five star reviews for this story so I really expected to enjoy it, and I did but….in a kind of underwhelmed way. It’s one of those that seemed perfect for me, but in practice just didn’t really work. Its a good book, a great book for many, many readers, just not a great one for me.
Kara, oh how I felt for her, pregnant, abandoned by her own parents, and cruelly deceived by Harry’s parents. They gave her some money, sent her away to a mum and baby unit on the other side of the country, promising to pass on letters to Harry and that soon as he’d graduated he’d send for her, but in reality told him nothing. She’s struggled, living by bartering her art, clothes making, gardening, anything to keep them fed, clothed and a roof over their head. Its 27 years on now and baby Phil is grown and a dad himself.
I was pregnant at 17 – mum’s reaction “Oh no! What will the neighbours think!!” and rush upstairs to bed. The following days were constant guilt trips and trying to persuade me to get rid of or hide the baby somehow. So I understand a little of how Kara felt, but my boyfriend was with me all the way, and we’ve now been married 40 years. Poor Kara though – what happened to her happens even now, and it scarred her in ways she doesn’t even see. I really liked her strength and determination but Phil’s grown now, Harry knew nothing and yet she still holds very tightly to a grudge. She can’t get past being abandoned, and the years have simply strengthened that. There were times when she annoyed me the way she was to Phil and Harry. Then Phil, he too holds a grudge, he hated the communes, always moving, living in other people’s homes. He wanted his own room in his own house, and to have a stable home and even now that he relies on Kara to help him with his daughter Jessie he still never seems to miss an opportunity to push her about his upbringing. When she’s going through Harry’s cupboards, junking his food and giving lectures about what he should or shouldn’t be buying and eating, she was just short of being a bully in a way. I am careful over what we eat, try to go for unprocessed food, animal welfare meat and eggs and yet her stance bordered on dictatorial. It reminded me of a day out at a local animal sanctuary where every pen seemed to have a “meat is murder” sticker, or posters of horrific images of how some animals in the food industry are treated. When we ate out picnic ham ( British!)sandwiches I felt a little frisson of satisfaction, even though I agreed with many of the messages. No one wants it rammed down their throats. The coffee, hot chocolate and Ice-cream were all awful, even the kids wouldn’t eat it. I’ve had good milk substitutes but that was just foul. Cheap and nasty stuff. If you want to persuade people harassing them, and then charging a fortune for sub standard produce isn’t the way to go. Kara’s stance just brought back those memories. She’s just plain rude about what is essentially another persons choice, trying to force her choice on them. She doesn’t want it done to her, why can’t she give some respect to their feelings too?
Harry, he’s perfect. Though he was a jerk to leave Kara they way he did, and I never really understood why he went from two years of plucking up courage to approach her for a date, to that one night and then leaving. Maybe it was covered in the story but I couldn’t work it out and it was a big missing link for me. Why didn’t he try to track her down later, just to see where she is, given he was so entranced by her, and is still in love with her? That bit just didn’t add up for me.
There’s lots of going back and analysing the past, looking at it from different perspectives, and Harry is a wonderful voice of reason between Kara and Phil. I adored him. I got a little tired of Kara and Phil constantly hashing out the past, it can’t be changed so I didn’t see why they kept on, and on , and on…Jessie was an adorable child, so open and friendly, and I wanted to wrap her up. Sadly she’s going to learn far too soon how cruel people can be to anyone not the “norm”. Everyone loves babies with issues, move on ten years and they’re not so keen, when they grow into adults there’s far too many people who’d like to see them kept out of sight 😦
So overall a read that touches so many issues, a look back at the past and learning how to accept it, to live with it, to see how it wasn’t all good or bad, and to learning how to move forward. I adored Harry and Jessie, got annoyed too often at Phil in the beginning but by the end I admired him, but Kara, while I felt for her I was also angry at her many, many times. The parents? Less said the better IMO. Parents are there to support kids in an ideal world, sadly there’s far too many that don’t.
Stars: Three. A good book, but for me not a great one.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers for honest review