Reviewed by Helyce
From Goodreads: At the age of nineteen, Seth Sileski had everything. A superb athlete and scholar, handsome and popular, he was the pride of Thunder Point. Destined for greatness, he lost it all in a terrible accident that put an end to his professional football career when it had barely begun. The people in his hometown have never forgotten what might have been.
Seth has come to terms with the turns his life has taken. But now he’s been presented with an opportunity to return home and show his father—and the people of Thunder Point—he’s become a better, humbler version of his former self.
Winning over his father isn’t the only challenge. Seth must also find a way to convince his childhood neighbor and best friend, Iris McKinley, to forgive him for breaking her heart. With his homecoming, will Seth be able to convince the town, his family and especially Iris that he’s finally ready to be the man who will make them all proud?
As a big fan of Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series, I easily fell into reading this new series set in the small coastal town of Thunder Point. Initially, the similarities with the set up of the town and it’s community seemed to mirror Virgin River in such a way that it felt like only the name of the town and it’s people had been changed but all the stories and conflicts were the same. While I loved the Virgin River series, I did not want to read it again with different names in different places. Thankfully, along about book 3 or 4 I started to really feel this series coming into it’s own. Less similar, we still get Ms. Carr’s signature style of storytelling, but it was less Virgin River-esque.
In The Homecoming, we are treated to two new characters, always good in an ongoing series. I loved that Seth and Iris had been good friends who were close throughout childhood and through high school. I loved how Iris was awkward and goofy yet had the friendship of one of the most popular boys in school. I loved that Iris had been secretly in love with Seth through most of their friendship and that Seth was totally oblivious to it. I even loved the incident that broke up their friendship because it was so realistic and while sad and hurtful and totally heart breaking, I can see it happening to a young girl with stars in her eyes.
But all that love could not help me enjoy Iris as an adult.
Seth comes home to take a position as the Chief of Police. He’s serious about this new job and wants to be successful. It’s clear that he wants the town to see him as he is now, and not remember him as the young star football athlete turned pro NFL player who lost everything overnight. Seth has changed and it’s important to him that people see this more serious adult side of him. He wants to repair his friendship with Iris and his relationship with his father.
Iris was very likable for all of about three minutes for me. When she reveals the details of the incident that forever broke her heart and I realized she had been living with it for 17 years and STILL held a grudge, I was done. While I can totally understand the heartbreak and humiliation of what happened to her after being in love with her best friend forever and thinking that finally he was seeing her as more than just a friend; to have written him off, and never spoken about it when clearly he was at a total loss as to the details, and to live with it for 17 years burning a hole in your heart. I could pull my hair out. So much time. Too much wasted time.
When Seth returns home and sees an opportunity to make amends with Iris, he still doesn’t know what has her panties in a twist. When she reveals it, he is completely blindsided, and hurt and he begins to do everything he can to fix that 17 year old hurt. Considering that this is the issue that tore them apart and even though I thought it was completely lame on Iris’s part; I found myself conflicted that they never really talk about it other than when Iris reveals her secret to Seth. Hold a grudge for all that time and then sweep it under the rug. Grrrrrrr!
There are secondary storylines running parallel with all this as is Ms. Carr’s style and she does it well here tackling the serious subject of abuse: both child abuse and dating abuse. Iris works as a counselor at the high school and when another teacher brings to her attention the fact that a female student seems to have a lot of injuries, all of which she can give realistic reasons for, it is something that Iris follows up on and of course needs to bring Seth in on because of the situation. It all comes to a head near the end and is wrapped up cleanly.
The abuse storyline introduces us to Iris’s co-worker Troy, a teacher at the high school, and what I’m hoping was a set up between him and Iris’s good friend Grace who owns the local flower shop. I’m looking forward to this, if I’ve guessed correctly at their possible relationship. Fingers crossed!
So, while not my favorite of the series, I’m not ready to call it quits just yet!