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Home At Last: A Chicory Inn Novel — Book 5 Kindle Edition
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Each book is a love story, a midwest American version of what Lord and Lady Grantham have dealt with at Downton Abbey. Chicory Inn is the childhood home of the Whitman family, and in their empty nest years, Grant and Audrey have transformed it into a beautiful Bed and Breakfast.Twenty-nine year old Link is not exactly unhappy at the beginning of the book, but in his six years since graduating from college, he still hasn’t landed a “real job.” He’s stuck in an entry level position testing electrical wire, exhausted from working double shifts and coming home to a bachelor pad studio in a not-so-great part of town. Something is missing in his life, and his sister’s attempts at playing matchmaker leave him edgy and unsatisfied.
In a split second on an icy road, Link’s distracted driving (talking on his cell phone to his mom!) almost causes his truck to hit a small child. It turns out she is the five-year-old niece of the attractive Shayla Michaels, who works in the local Coffee’s On bakery. He’d met her at a nearby homeless shelter, where he’d volunteered his computer knowledge for a while. Link had been drawn to her, yet her mysterious life was unknown to him until the near tragedy causes their casual friendship to deepen.
Shayla’s life has always been a challenge, as she’s straddled two worlds, being the daughter of a white mother and African American father. Both extended families rejected the other, but after the death of her mother, she’s embraced by her father’s family. She bears the heavy load of raising her niece, Portia, since her brother is serving time in jail and the girl’s mother is out of the picture.
Link and Shayla begin a relationship, allowing readers to witness the difficulties they must face as a mixed-race couple. Reading the novel as part of a group will open up opportunities for conversations about topics such as interracial dating and parenting. As always, Deborah Raney includes a Group Discussion Guide at the back of the book, with questions that will allow readers to dig deeply into contemporary issues.
One of the best parts about finishing a whole series of books is that you can finally realize the author’s long-term vision as she commenced writing. When I began the series, I didn’t realize each book would focus on one of the Whitman offspring, so now I can understand how all the books tie in together. They take up a special place on my bookshelf, and I look forward to reading them again. Now, if only a producer would pick them up to make a Chicory Inn mini-series or film!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Litfuse.
Shayla has a lot of things she would rather keep buried, secrets from her past that have earmarked her for a different future than one she might have imagined long ago. Since her parents married years ago, her mother, a white women of some affluence married Mike, a black man and with it came a separation between the families. Shayla's mother's family refused to acknowledge the relationship and left her and Mike to struggle and find a way to make it in the world. Even when a terminal cancer diagnosis was revealed, her parents still refused to budge. After watching her mother suffer needlessly in that regards, Shayla believes that the colors should not mix despite how one might feel differently. Of course, growing up under those stereotypes is bound to make one a bit hardened to it all.
That is why Link is determined to show her that love can transcend any barriers including race, and he is willing to overlook everything that Shayla tosses his way to discourage any attempts at a future for them both. She even has a younger niece, Portia, a wonderfully articulate and precocious five-year-old, that will undoubtedly be one she must care for the rest of her life while her father, Shayla's brother remains locked up in prison. But can love be that easy to accept when one has had to deal with these issues her entire life or will love be the one thing that saves them all and provides a way to change the world or just their part in it, one step at a time?
I received Home At Last by Deborah Raney compliments of Litfuse Publicity and Abingdon Press. This novel gives you an idea of what it is like dealing with all the stereotypes people of color must deal with without having the ability to change things or walk away from it. I love that Deborah Raney took this risk in making this a part of the Whitman story and conveys to us all that love really is the best gift of all. There are discussion questions that conclude the novel that makes for a great book club find and for me, this one was worth 4 out of 5 stars in my opinion. I love that you don't even realize that Shayla is a different color until you are well into the story and that is what love is all about, it never takes that into consideration when it unites people together.
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