I read Cathryn Parry's debut novel Something To Prove and I thought it was a solid first publication in the great big world of Harlequin. Harlies are all over the place. Some are utterly ridiculous (inexperienced virgin mistresses and the tycoons who love them), but high on the entertainment scale if that's what you're looking for. Some are short and sweet and formulaic. Some push the envelope. I'm not looking for believability when I read a Harlequin. That's not usually an expectation with one of these romances.
Having said that, I found The Long Way Home a lovely, romantic and believable story. This is an enormous jump up from Parry's debut. Close to flawless story-telling. The writing is smooth and engaging. The characters felt real. With real issues. Hearing loss, guilt, family problems, fear of emotional entanglements.
I totally bought into Bruce and Natalie's relationship. Parry did a great job developing the character arcs for both the hero and heroine, and made their love affair believable, sweet and satisfying. I find the heroine is usually the weak spot in most romances, but I adored Natalie in this book. She has a lot of courage, but she is also a romantic at heart. She's a wonderful character.
Parry balances the story-telling with a beloved New England setting, well-fleshed out secondary characters, and touching moments of healing and love. I think sometimes authors forget that incredibly touching moments can happen in ways other than with the central romance. And these touching moments add so much richness to a romance novel. Parry does an extraordinary job with this, in particular at the end of the book with a woman who is lonely and wounded by the death of her son.
It's funny. I've been reading a lot of holiday romances since the season is upon us. This book is not really a Christmas romance, but in many ways the themes here are perfect for this time of the year. There are themes of home-coming, forgiveness, family, generosity and love that are not only timeless, but are also very appropriate for the holiday season.
I was really touched by this sweet story. Bravo, Cathryn Parry!
All my best,
The paperback is available for purchase at Amazon.
The Kindle version is available for pre-order now and will be released on December 1st.
It is available at the Harlequin site in print/ebook/large print.