Vicarage_HomecomingA Vicarage Homecoming is the fourth book in Kate Hewitt’s Holley Sisters of Thornthwaite series. Each book tells the story of one of four daughters to Thornthwaite’s vicar and wife. By book four, the vicar, Roger, and his wife, Ruth, are on mission in China, and three of the four sisters are attached and happy. Then there’s number four, Miriam Holley, 23 and pregnant after one careless night with a stranger while she was on her travels ’round the globe. We meet Miriam, five months along and miserable. She’s considering giving the baby up for adoption, pondering how her life lacks viable work and purpose, and feeling like she’s let her family, church family, and herself down: how hard will it be to make sure she doesn’t drag this baby along in her desultory wake? As it turns out, harder than she thought.

Hewitt’s Vicarage Homecoming is not a romance, thought there’s a romantic interest in it. It’s very much the story of Miriam’s growth and awakening to the possibilities of family, friendship, and motherhood. The first half of the novel sees Miriam spend time working for the new vicar, her sister Anna’s fiancé, Simon Truesdell. At first, I thought he was the love interest, but no. Then, she runs into her sister Rachel’s former fiancé, Dan Taylor, and he offers her a place to stay, the annexe he’s renting, in exchange for answering the phone at his veterinary clinic and dealing with his chaotic paperwork.   Continue reading

REVIEW: Lily Everett’s SHORELINE DRIVE, Marriage of Convenience, Really?

Shoreline DriveThe marriage-of-convenience trope is one of Miss Bates’ most beloved.  It is difficult and rare, however, to see it done well in contemporary romance.  It is unlikely that the reasons for the marriage will be convincing.  What compelling reasons can there be for contemporary characters to agree to such a union?  Eons ago, Miss Bates saw a Peter Weir film, Green Card, which posited one possible scenario; or the more recent, less adept, The Proposal, which isn’t really marriage-of-convenience, but engagement-of-convenience, so much less … well … engaging.  It’s the idea of a binding marriage that is absorbing for Miss Bates: the-stuck-with-you-getting-to-know-you-daily-grind-and-growing-love ethos of it that she adores.  Certainly, the trope triumphs in historical romance.  The truth is that any contemporary marriage-of-convenience narrative isn’t plausible in light of the ease and convenience of divorce laws.  Lily Everett’s Shoreline Drive, second in her Sanctuary Island series, stands or falls on the believability, the plausibility of her use of this trope.  Miss Bates read and enjoyed the first in the series, Sanctuary Island, but what was good in the latter is not echoed in the former.  While the premise for Sanctuary Island was convincing, there be misgivings about Shoreline Drive. Continue reading