Long Walk Home (Bookouture, 2021)
By Ellyn Oaksmith
Home, no matter how long it takes to get there, is worth the struggle.
Lola Alvarez has a dream. She wants to stand on her own two feet. “Make her mark on the family business.” Step out of the shadow of her older sister, Carmen. One way of doing this is adding tiny cabins to the family’s Blue Hills Winery and restaurant. Throw true love into the mix and she’s good to go. But it won’t be easy as past and present collide in this gentle romance about family, forgiveness, and courage.
Standing in the way of Lola’s dream are her overbearing restaurant manager and sister, Carmen. Gordon Ramsay wannabe “Horrible Neil,” Aka: Chef Jerk on Steroids. An overprotective father, Juan, who’s in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. And a choice between two men: steady, respectable Hidalgo Ruiz of Ruiz Construction and Gus Weaver, newly released ex-con, master carpenter, and Lola’s high school heart throb.
After his release from a ten-year prison stint, Gus is hired by Hidalgo to build Lola’s tiny cabins. This, while the relationship between Lola and Hidalgo heats up. Catch: Lola hasn’t exactly come clean to anyone about anyone else, the building project, or the tangled web of the past. And when Lola fires Chef Jerk on the eve of Carmen’s wedding, which he was going to cater, and Gus and Hidalgo square off, can disaster be far away?
Set in the stunning beauty of Chelan, Washington in the shadow of the North Cascades, Long Walk Home offers a mouth-watering menu of simmering romantic tension, familial friction, heart break, confusion, and intrepidity in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds. It’s tightly written and reads quickly, with each chapter flowing seamlessly into the next.
- Keep an eye out for Daisy, Lola’s faithful Australian Shepherd mix. Scene stealer!
- Don’t read this book when you’re hungry. The descriptions of cooking and meal prep inside the Blue Hills kitchen will have you drooling!
- The male protagonist’s name. “Gus.” Not Joe or Ethan or Blake? “Gus”? Seriously?
- Perhaps unwittingly, the author repeats the same phrases, running on redundant. (“Your lack of empathy is stunning,” etc. We got it the first time, okay?)
- Repeatedly lower casing the “g” in “God.” Yeah, we noticed.
- Carmen’s future in-laws, the Hollisters. Cardboard caricatured much? Barf.
- The 27 year old Drama Queen thing gets old. Fast.
- The ARC, at least, could benefit from another proofread.
Even so, Long Walk Home is well-written, expertly paced, and packed with (mostly) memorable characters. This is a sweet and gentle read. If you’re hungry for bright and nimble fiction flavored with romance, forgiveness, rugged natural beauty, delicious food, family, and robust word pictures seasoned with hope and humor, take a bite out of Long Walk Home.