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Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: Return to Homecoming Ranch by Julia London

Format: .mobi (provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review)
Release Date: July 22, 2014

Curly-haired Libby Tyler never stops smiling…until her beloved boyfriend suddenly forces her out of their home and away from his adoring kids. When she learns he dumped her for his flighty ex-wife, Libby’s sadness turns to fury—and she very publicly smashes his truck with a golf club, earning herself a trip to a mental health center for some “rest.”

Handsome, hazel-eyed deputy Sam Winters has been sober for two years. Afraid of backsliding, he lives in the mountains and keeps his distance from people. Yet he never forgot Libby, his former colleague at the sheriff’s office whose charm and cheerfulness always warmed his days.

Now Libby’s back, ignoring the townspeople’s whispers (and her ex’s restraining order) while desperately trying to make Homecoming Ranch a successful event destination. She keeps causing trouble for Sam, but he finds her smile more beautiful than ever…and his touch gives her thrills she’s never felt. Could these two lost souls mend each other’s broken hearts?


Return to Homecoming Ranch was a definitely a challenge for me as a reader.



Libby Tyler always had the reputation of a happy go-lucky girl, until her boyfriend of four years kicks her out of his home and denies her access to his children, children she lovingly raised as her own. When she finds out that he ended their relationship in order to return to his ex-wife and the children's mother, Libby takes a golf club to his truck. Unfortunately that move earns her a stay in a mental center and the reputation of an unstable woman.

A recovering alcoholic, Sam Winters prefers not to mix with people unless his job calls for it. He remembers Libby as a bright, happy woman who made his days memorable. Now though, all she does is cause trouble for him. Violating restraining orders, confronting her ex and more, Sam just wants Libby to settle down. However, with all the trouble Libby's causing, Sam finds himself in her company more than he wants to be and both of them become attracted to one another which leads to a whole new set of complications.

I have never come so close to not finishing a book before. I mean it, Return to Homecoming Ranch almost got a DNF from me. Almost.

Why? Because of Libby, the heroine. Now, I don’t expect a perfect heroine but dang Libby was just so hard to like! She was so obsessed with her ex-boyfriend’s kids that it was creepy and scary! I understand that she spent four years raising those kids and then all of a sudden her boyfriend kicks her out of the house and their lives in order to return to his ex-wife and the mother of his children. I understood how crushing that could be to someone who loves kids and who raised two children who weren’t hers. I admired that Libby had such a big, loving heart. However, once she was out of the picture she should have stepped back and let their mother raise them while she tried to find some legal way to see the kids. Those were not her kids in the eyes of the law and their mother was not out of the picture any more. Libby should have been more mature and intelligent about being in the kids’ lives instead of going nuts and coming off as a potential kidnapper or stalker. Libby was irresponsible, careless with others’ feelings and just generally annoyed me with her “Me, me, me” attitude. Her behavior completely contradicted her feelings towards the kids. She made things harder on them than was necessary. She would stir up trouble with her juvenile antics and then, rather than face the consequences like an adult, would whine about how it wasn’t her fault. I just wanted to yell “Grow up all ready! People believe the worst of you because you only show them the worst!” It wasn’t until I was 80% of the way through the book that Libby became tolerable.

Sam was a little better. He’s thoughtful, serious but kind and loyal. I loved how, even though there were times he didn’t know how to help himself with his alcoholism, he always wanted to help others who were struggling. He’s such a good friend to others that I couldn’t help but want him to have the same for himself. I enjoyed the touch of realism that author Julia London put into Sam’s daily struggles with alcohol. It’s not easy and there is no such thing as being “cured,” a fact that the author brought to the front and drove home. It was Sam’s battle with alcohol that made him more real and attention worthy. The only downside to Sam was that he fell in love with Libby.

Now for the real reason I had to read this book: Leo. I fell so in love with the witty, loving character who sometimes highjacks the story in order to tell things from his point of view. My love for Leo stems from admiration. Leo has motor neuron disease and its terminal yet he’s so vibrant and full of life. He’s got a sarcastic streak a mile wide but a heart that’s beyond measure. I adore this character and found myself rapidly scanning each page for any scenes with him. He’s one of those characters that grabs your attention and never lets go. I hope Leo continues to make appearances in the next book in the series. He brings such a smile to my face every time he appears.

Overall, Return to Homecoming Ranch is a good book. Even with the heroine being obnoxious and a little creepy, the romance is tender and sweet but still has a rating of “R” for language and detailed but not graphic sex scenes. The real scene stealer though was and probably always will be Leo.


Final Verdict: If you can overlook a character like Libby and see through to the story then I definitely recommend Return to Homecoming Ranch. If you haven't read this series yet, be prepared to fall in love with Leo.


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