Thursday, December 5, 2013

Where the Heart Is by Darcy Burke

The Basics:
Where the Heart Is by Darcy Burke
Intrepid Reads
Prequel to the Ribbon Ridge series
Published December 1, 2013

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Home is more than a place . . .

Breaking free from her structured life, Chloe English quits her high-powered job and moves across the country to work as an art teacher. The simple life is all she hoped it would be until her house burns down, leaving her homeless. When a handsome firefighter swoops in to save the day, she can’t believe her luck. He’s laid-back and unassuming, everything she’s looking for in a man—or so he seems. It turns out he’s as ambitious as her ex, comes with a family who could be more stifling than hers, and harbors dark secrets he may never be able to share.

Orphaned as a teenager, Derek Sumner has found a place in his best friend’s family. However, the love and support of his surrogate parents and siblings can’t erase the grief and loss he struggles every Christmas to banish. But this year he meets the fun and sexy Chloe, whose optimism and sense of joy are incredibly contagious. Can she help him face his bleak past so they can forge a happy future?

Why I picked up this book:

It looked like a sweet Christmas-y romance.

My thoughts:

It was a sweet Christmas-y romance. Very well written. Though quick, the romance between Chloe and Derek felt believable. I liked the positioning of family in this story - some meddling members, some absentee, people dealing with the loss of family, others with over-involved family. It was a nice spectrum of family relationships that emphasized how important family is - both the family we're born to and the one that we choose (or that chooses us) later in life.

For a novella length work, I think the pacing of this story was perfect. There was no cheating the reader because there wasn't enough time to wrap everything up neatly, nor did Burke refrain from creating legitimate conflict. I didn't feel like anything was really contrived - another common complaint of mine for novella-length romances.

There's something that feels very real about Chloe and Derek's romance. The problems they face aren't blown ridiculously out of proportion and they both react in reasonable ways (outside of their own personal issues, which makes sense since they wouldn't be issues if they reacted in reasonable ways to them!).  I really liked that, it made it easier to connect to these characters and to care about them - because they were more human and less caricatures.

This book sets up the Archer family who I presume will star in Burke's Ribbon Ridge series. There's a lot of variety among the seven siblings - sextuplets and one 'oops' younger brother, and I think I'll quite enjoy getting to know each of them better.

Bottom line:

This one isn't super Christmas-themed - but does definitely take place around the holidays. Pick it up for the romance, and the start of a new series. I'll be checking out Darcy Burke's historical romance series once I find an opening in my reading schedule!

4.5 stars
For fans of contemporary romance.

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