Title: The Perfect Homecoming by Julia London
Pine River Series Book Three
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: A
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia London delivers another stand-alone, heartwarming love story in her Pine River series.
Emma Tyler’s cool exterior and penchant for sarcasm keep most people from getting too close…and an unusual compulsion drives her to steal from the few men who do. When her trophy-collecting habit goes too far, she quits her ritzy event-planning job in Los Angeles and runs away to Pine River, hiding with her estranged half-sisters at Homecoming Ranch and caring for Leo Kendrick, her ailing friend.
Thrillseekers Anonymous founder Cooper Jessup has his hands full with work and his brother’s looming prison release date. But when a client asks him to track down Emma Tyler to retrieve a stolen memento, Cooper can’t turn down the money…or the chance to see the beautiful Emma again.
When Cooper comes to collect the item, Emma refuses to admit the horrible truth. This handsome man may see right through her steely veneer, but can he get close enough to show her how love and honesty can heal a troubled heart?
The Perfect Homecoming is the very poignant third installment in Julia London’s heartwarming Pine River series starring the Tyler sisters. In this outing, Emma flees from her seemingly perfect life as an event planner and returns the ranch she co-owns with her two sisters, Libby and Madeline. Unfortunately the past she is trying to leave behind catches up with her when Cooper Jessup tracks her down to retrieve a missing keepsake for a client.
Emma is so emotionally damaged that it is absolutely heartbreaking. Her issues are deeply rooted in her childhood but it is a horrible betrayal that leaves her trapped in an unhealthy pattern of behavior ten years later. Growing up, Emma never quite measured up to her “perfect” stepsister and while she has made peace with what other people consider her shortcomings, she never quite fits in. She is a stunningly beautiful woman but her unflinching honesty puts her at disadvantage in most social settings. She is not deliberately hurtful but her direct answers to sensitive questions are rarely appreciated. This lack of social niceties has given her a reputation of being hard and insensitive, but in reality, Emma is incredibly fragile.
Cooper is one of the very few people who sees Emma as more than a pretty face. Growing up with a brother who is typically on the wrong side of the law, Cooper has a remarkable ability to accept people as they are without judging them. Cooper has no doubt that Emma has the object in question, but what he does not know is why she took it. He is frustrated by her vehement denials, but he still finds himself falling for her. However, trying to convince Emma that she is worthy of his love is an almost impossible task.
Emma and Cooper’s paths have crossed a couple of times in their professional lives and they have a mutual respect for each other. They are also attracted to one another, but Emma pushes him away due to her shame and general feeling of unworthiness. This does not stop her from trying to seduce him and although Cooper does desire her, he refuses to let her use sex as a distraction. Cooper also knows Emma deserves more than she is willing to settle for and until she believes she deserves unconditional love, there seems little chance of a future for them.
The Perfect Homecoming is a powerful novel of love, redemption and forgiveness. It is also a very sweet romance that pulls on the heartstrings but it is the growth of Emma’s character that makes it such an outstanding and emotional read. A very moving epilogue perfectly wraps up all of the loose ends and brings not only the novel, but the entire series, to an extremely satisfying and emotional conclusion.
Throughout the Pine River series, Julia London has not hesitated to write about very difficult and sensitive topics and each book packs a very emotional punch. Each novel in the series is thought-provoking, moving and realistic and although they can be read as standalone stories, I highly recommend the entire Pine River series.