Friday, January 06, 2012

Review: The Comforts of Home by Jodi Thomas

I've been meaning to write this review for a while :) I actually believe that I started putting it together back in November, not long after I finished reading it... but the words weren't coming together. Well today, they flowed and I hope it made justice to the book :)


***Warning: This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk***

The Comforts of Home by Jodi Thomas
published by Berkley in November 2011

In Harmony, Texas, twenty-year-old Reagan Truman has found her place, and found her family. But with her uncle taken ill and her friend Noah lost and disheartened with his life, Reagan is afraid of ending up alone again, and she's not the only one. When a terrible storms threatens the town, the residents of Harmony are forced to think about what they really want. Because making the connections they so desperately desire means putting their hearts at risk...
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Harmony series, Book #3

The Story: The Comforts of Home takes place 2 years after Somewhere Along the Way. Reagan is now 20 years old and in charge of the orchard, building up her pie business and taking care of her great-uncle. Life is busy, but she wouldn't have it any other way. Yet, she can't help but worry about her best friend/ex-boyfriend, Noah. It feels like the distance between them is growing and the joy of rodeo is gone from his voice... and when she gets the phone call that he's been injured...

Tyler is the director of the funeral home in Harmony. He's been in a long-distance/e-mail relationship with Kate for quite a number of years and is trying to figure out how to take the relationship to the next level. Or whether or not there is a next level... Meanwhile, there's been a strange car parked at the cemetery for days and Tyler considers it part of his duties to check it out. To his surprise, he finds a young woman asleep... One thing leads to another and somehow, Ty finds himself saddled with Autumn, who's obviously had a difficult past and is pregnant, as his new housekeeper.

Finally, there's Ronelle Logan. She works at the post office and is known to read your postcards and complete the crossword puzzles in the magazines she sorts through. She's very shy and has been isolated from the community her very opinionated mother. However, after she is asked to make a special delivery to Marty Winslow, Ronny's life starts to change. She strikes an unexpected friendship with this bad-tempered man who is now stuck in a wheelchair after a ski accident... and finally starts to spread her wings.

My Opinion: I loved this book!! Just loved it :) I really enjoyed Somewhere Along the Way and was a bit anxious to read The Comforts of Home... but once I finished this book and re-read it immediately LOL. Yep, that's how much I enjoyed The Comforts of Home :)

So far, I've loved following Reagan's journey, seeing her grow and dealing with life. It's really been heart-warming to see the relationship between Reagan and her great-uncle, Jeremiah. They are not blood-related, but blood doesn't matter. It's the heart that does. I've also been very anxious to see what would happen to her relationship with Noah. It was sad to see that Noah has lost his joy and love of the rodeo world. That the injuries and the reality of the rodeo world have toughened him up, but also eroded his spirit. At the same time, it makes Noah's promises to Reagan at the end even stronger, meaningful. I think that Noah will turn into a really fine man and as such, I'm glad that the fractures in their relationship were mended.

Another relationship that I'm happy with the outcome is Ty and Kate. I think Ty is an awesome man. Definitively not your typical hero in romance - a chubby 40-ish y.o. funeral director - and yet there is something about him. His gentleness, the way he cares for people and his job, his sincerity. Tyler is really a genuine person... While I think he deserves much better than Kate, in the end, it is the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with and I'm happy that he finally gets what he wants :)

I have to say though, my favorite storyline in The Comforts of Home was Ronny's story. She's been mentioned in Welcome to Harmony if I'm not wrong and she seems such a strange woman... but Ms Thomas was able to turn her into an interesting character, one that you came to love and couldn't help but root for :) It was just amazing to see her bloom and spread her wings, to come out from under her mother's thumb, starts making friends and affirming herself.
Ronelle knew Dallas would not stay to eat. She often reminded Ronelle never to eat anything at potluck dinners or bake sales. One person hating the town could wipe out the entire population with poison.
Looking around, she saw everyone eating and had a horrible thought. If they all died, that would leave only her mother and her in town. While her mother stopped to talk to Willie Davis, Ronelle slipped a piece of corn bread into her pocket. It would be all in crumbs by the time she got home, but she planned to eat it. Just in case.
When I first read this passage, it made me chuckled LOL. At the same time, can you imagine the situation Ronelle finds herself in? Also the stunt that her mother pulled at the end of the book. Really, I don't know how Ronelle did which shows that deep down, Ronelle is really a strong woman.

Anyway, I really enjoyed Ronny's relationship with Marty, because it was so strange. However, I think that both of them really connected and really understood each other. I thought that the romance developed a little bit too fast, so it's a good thing that Marty leaves to get better at the end... But I have to say, I cannot wait for the next book!!! I want to see what happens to this relationship and how things turn out!!!

So yes, I really enjoyed The Comforts of Home, but there were two flaws to it. First, there is another couple - Denver and Claire. I really didn't care about them... I just don't like Claire and can't warm up to her. However, I can say she's lucky to have Denver. The other issue I had with this book was the big storm. I just wished Ms Thomas would not use the disaster plot device in all the books ^_^; It's just becoming a pattern and I think patterns when they are too obvious are not good. Good thing these were small issues and did not affect my enjoyment of the book too much :)

Finally, but not least... I've said it often, but it's worth to mention it again: there is something special about Ms Thomas' writing :) The best way I can describe it is gentle, delicate and it really suits this series. The Harmony series is not your typical small-town contemporary romance series... instead, it's about characters in a community growing and falling in love, but not in a straightforward way :) I liked that life for these characters is not all pink, because it makes it more believable, more realistic... but at the same time, it's not always tragic. It's just life. And the way Ms Thomas writes it... it's not heart-breaking because that would imply it's sad, but it definitively tugs hard at your heart :)

My Grade: A-. The Comforts of Home made me smiled, made me chuckled, made me laughed and definitively warmed my heart :) I can't wait for the next book!