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The Prodigal's Return Mass Market Paperback – July 4, 2006
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"...an intriguing police procedural...a strong thriller..." --Excellent! -- Book Review.com
"...inspired...gripping... The best yet!" --5 Stars!!! -- Cataromance Reviews
"A wonderful story...that tugs at your heart and leaves you with a satisfied sigh." -- NYT Bestselling Author, Haywood Smith
"Anna DeStefano's remarkable stories touch the heart with hope. One of the genre's rising stars..." -- Two-Time RITA Award Winner, Gayle Wilson
For an uplifting tale... You won't want to miss the superbly told The Prodigal's Return. --Patti Fischer -- Romance Reviews Today
From the Publisher
I've received so much fan mail asking for another story about the amazing Rivers family we met in The Unknown Daughter. Don't miss Tony Rivers' story--it's an action-packed, emotional ride!!!
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This is a keeper and the author on my must read list
July 15, 2006
Rating **** (4 stars)
The various relationships in THE PRODIGAL'S RETURN kept this story moving fast and will keep the reader interested until the very end. The story revolves around the death of teenager Bobby Compton, who was killed by fellow classmate Neal Cain, both of whom were in love with the same girl. Neal pled guilty against his father's wishes, and was sent to prison to serve a jail sentence of eight years. Neal refused all contact from the girl he loved, Jennifer (Jenn) Gardner, and his father Nathan turned his back on Neal. Subsequently, Jennifer's life turned into a nightmare, running with the wrong crowd and over-indulging in sex and booze. The result was her precious daughter Mandy.
It is eight years later. It is a coincidence that both Neal and Jennifer return home after only bad memories remain for either of them, including their estranged fathers. Upon her return, Jennifer learns that Nathan Cain, who was once a very wealthy and successful lawyer, is now a drunken old man who looks as if he's living on the streets. His home is falling apart and it is obvious Nathan has given up. When Jennifer finds out that Neal has returned, her main concern is Nathan, and she does her best to convince Neal to connect again with his father, who is now alone and is shunned by the town.
Ever since the birth of her daughter Mandy, Jennifer had turned her own life around to become the type of person that would help anyone who needed it. But what she doesn't realize is that she's been pretending that her own problems don't exist by dealing with everyone else's problems first. Neal has also taken the same route, becoming a social advocate for the poor and needy, neglecting his own issues.
A subplot involving a young pregnant teenager reminds Jennifer of her struggles when she too had been a pregnant teen, with no love or support from her family. Jennifer tries to ensure that history does not repeat itself, and does her best, with the help of Nathan, to guide Traci to do the right thing.
The reader will feel very connected to the characters in THE PRODIGAL'S RETURN. There are several very intense relationships intermingling in this story, with people who have a lot of issues that need to be dealt with because of one single action that took place eight years ago. One of the most central characters is not part of a love interest, but that of the elderly Nathan Cain. The reader will enjoy getting to know him, a man who was once the most successful and wealthiest person in the small town of Rivermist, but is now the town outcast. His best friend is the town's pastor, Jennifer's father, and the two men had parted ways because of the murder committed by Nathan's son. Jennifer makes her way into Nathan's heart, as does her daughter Mandy, who looks up to Nathan as another grandfather whom she could love and cherish. Watching Nathan's character transform was a highlight of this book, and helped bring all the characters together, as well as tie up the story lines.
The relationship between Neal and his father Nathan is also a pivotal one that keeps the story moving. Nathan acts as if he never wants to see his prodigal son again, but what Neal doesn't understand is that Nathan only wants what is best for his son, and chasing him out of town is what Nathan thinks is the best thing to do. Jennifer is the person that tries to fix everyone's problems, and this includes the relationship between father and son.
A minor character, Jeremy Compton, the brother of the teen that was murdered, is a constant reminder of what had happened in the past, but it's not just a reminder of the murder. Jeremy behaves as if he almost owns Jennifer, acting too familiar with her while Jennifer is uncomfortable with the signals she's getting from him. His past and connection with Jennifer is not obvious, until it finally is spelled out at the very end, with an almost devastating conclusion.
As always, a good romance has realistically drawn characters with a story line that will keep the reader intrigued, and THE PRODIGAL'S RETURN has all that. The reader will not be disappointed with this Harlequin Superromance, and this reviewer recommends THE PRODIGAL'S RETURN. - Courtesy of Love Romances
Jennifer Gardner's perfect teenage life ended the night that Bobby Compton died. Cut out of Neal's life and left to the derision of a disapproving community, Jennifer's out of control escapades eight years ago left her with a bad reputation and a baby on the way. Now, eight years later, the former teenaged runaway is back, and through hard work and discipline she's made a life for herself and daughter Mandy. Working hard to repair a strained relationship with her ailing father, she's even taken a hand in running the youth group in her father's church.
When a chance encounter leads to an emotional meeting between these two returned prodigals, they find themselves just as drawn to one another as they were all those years ago. And as they work together to help Neal's dying father, Jenn must make the hard choice between giving in to her heart's desire and protecting herself from further heartbreak.
With this spotlight on life in a small southern town, Anna DeStefano manages the difficult task of juggling angst, humor and everything in between with graceful aplomb. A romance through and through, this is as much a book about parent/child relationships as it is about Jenn and Neal. There are a few places where politics get in the way of plot, but these are fleeting and do serve to reinforce the complexity of the issues DeStefano wrestles with. Add memorable secondary characters and an interesting sub-plot, and The Prodigal's Return becomes, at its core, a heartening story of the love that binds sweethearts, families and small towns together.
Armchair Interviews says: A sweet story placed in small Southern town.
Most recent customer reviews
Harlequin Super Romance # 1358 - July 2006
Eight years ago, Neal took full punishment for the accidental death of his best...Read more