Sunday, December 30, 2012

Review: A Hometown Boy by Janice Kay Johnson

A Hometown Boy

Paperback304 pages
Expected publication: January 2nd 2013 by Harlequin 
Source:  Publisher/Netgalley

Blurb:  Prosecutor David Owen has fond memories of growing up in small-town Washington State. But he outgrew that place—and his family—long ago and hasn't felt the need to return. Until the day a tragedy shakes the town and calls him back to a community desperate for hope and healing. In the emotional fallout, he never expects to find Acadia Henderson again.For one teenage summer they hovered on the edge of a sweet attraction before she moved away. Now as adults, that same attraction is there…only, hotter and way more intense. This seems like the wrong time to find a connection. But it could be the perfect time to move on…with each other.

My Thoughts:  David Owen is a prosecutor in Seattle.  He rarely, if ever, returns home to the small town that he grew up in.  It is easier to avoid his mentally ill brother and his mom, who has always put David's brother's needs above his.  It is even harder since his dad passed away.  Acadia Henderson hasn't been home to see her father in years.  Even though she moved away with her mother after their parents divorced when she was 13, she has still considered this small town home, spending her summers there when she was younger, though she is still resentful that her father didn't fight harder for her to stay with him.  When tragedy strikes, David and Acadia, who haven't seen each other in 16 years, are forced to both return home at the same time.  David's brother is dead, Acadia's father is dead, along with several other neighbors and friends.  No one ever thought anything like this could happen in their small town. No one was prepared when it did.  

David arrives home to his distraught mother who is in a state of shock, crime tape barring them from entering his brother's basement apartment and his father's den, where the guns were kept.  As he drives through the small neighborhood there is more of the same.  Charlie Henderson's porch is blocked off with crime tape, as are some of the other neighbors.  No one knows how this could have happened.  Acadia, who is a nurse in California, arrives home to her father's house, a house she hasn't been to in years, a house that for the first time ever does not have her father in it.  David see's her get out of the car, and she notices him looking at her also.  Despite the tragedy that has brought them home again at the same time, she can't help but remember the crush she had on David for years when they were young, remembering the summer they spent together.  The feelings are still there, even though she hasn't thought about it in years.  David is surprised to see Acadia.  He should have known she would come.  Seeing her again stirs up feelings in him also.  Yet there is this vast wall of guilt and tragedy that stands between them now.  The town is angry at David's mother and at him because of what his brother has done.  David understands this, though it doesn't make it any less difficult to endure.  They blame the family, even though the family wasn't at fault.  The only one who doesn't blame them is Acadia.  In fact, she stands behind David and his mom as they all go through the aftermath of death and tragedy together.  

David and Acadia begin to spend more and more time together as they go through the necessary steps that must be taken after a loved one dies.  They find out that the same feelings that were there when they were teenagers are still there, and are even stronger.  They are also a great source of support for each other during this time.  In fact, it is Acadia's support that helps the townspeople to begin to forgive, and begin the process of healing.  As the funerals end, and all the arrangements have been sorted out, David and Acadia must decide where there relationship will go from here.  Is this just another summer fling, or is it something real, something that can last a lifetime?

A Hometown Boy is a story of tragedy, death, grief, anger, mental illness, love, forgiveness, and healing.  In light of recent events, I was hesitant to read it, but I am glad I did.  Not only did I relate and comprehend the hurt and anger of the victims, but I was also able to relate to the family of the one who caused the tragedy, who in reality, were victims themselves.  That really gave me something to think about.  I think that it is too easy to overlook the family of the perpetrator.  They are people that are filled with sorrow, guilt, and shame because of what their loved one did, but also grieve not only the lives of those their loved one took, but also the loved  one that they lost.  Acadia is amazing in this story as she leads the way to reconciliation and forgiveness, a characteristic her father would have been proud of.  This is a story of people who in the midst of tragedy, experience families and friends brought together again, witness relationships being healed and restored, and experience love as it blossoms and grows.  This thought-provoking contemporary romance is more than just a sizzling story, it is something that inspires you to think about your belief system and your reactions, and just how those reactions effect the people around you.  

About this author

Janice Kay Johnson is the author of sixty books for children and adults. Her first four published romance novels were coauthored with her mother, also a writer who has since published mysteries and children's books on her own. These were "sweet" romance novels, the author hastens to add; she isn't sure they'd have felt comfortable coauthoring passionate love scenes!

Janice graduated from Whitman College with a B.A. in history and then received a master's degree in library science from the University of Washington. She was a branch librarian for a public library system until she began selling her own writing.

She has written six novels for young adults and one picture book for the read-aloud crowd. Rosamund was the outgrowth of all those hours spent reading to her own daughters, and of her passion for growing old roses. Two more of her favorite books were historical novels she wrote for Tor/Forge. The research was pure indulgence for someone who set out intending to be a historian!

Janice is divorced and has raised her two daughters in a small, rural town north of Seattle, Washington. She's an active volunteer and board member for Purrfect Pals, a no-kill cat shelter, and foster kittens often enliven a household that already includes a few more cats than she wants to admit to!

Janice loves writing books about both love and family — about the way generations connect and the power our earliest experiences have on us throughout life. Her Superromance novels are frequent finalists for Romance Writers of America RITA® awards


  1. Wow. Yeah this sounds like one that would hit hard right now. But I agree that we forget about how the family members of the perpetrater feel. About what they go through. I think this sounds like an incredible story and I will have to try to read it one of these days.

  2. I agree, this sounds like a really emotional read but a great one.

    Nice review Ellen! I haven't even seen this one around so thanks for bringing it to my attention! :)


Thanks for your comments. I love hearing from you!

Entangled Teen Weekly

What Kind of Reviewer are You? Click on the banner to visit Ashley @ the Book Nook to find out.