Thursday, June 20, 2013
Harlequin/MIRA/June 25, 2013
Janelle Decker has happy childhood memories of her grandma's house, and even lived there through high school. Now she's back with her twelve-year-old son to look after her ailing Nan, and hardly anything seems to have changed, not even the Tierney boys next door.
Gabriel Tierney, local bad-boy. The twins, Michael and Andrew.
After everything that happened between the four of them, Janelle is shocked that Gabe still lives in St. Mary's. And he isn't trying very hard to convince Janelle he's changed from the moody teenage boy she once knew. If anything, he seems bent on making sure she has no intentions of rekindling their past.
To this day, though there might've been a lot of speculation about her relationship with Gabe, nobody else knows she was there in the woods that day...the day a devastating accident tore the Tierney brothers apart and drove Janelle away. But there are things that even Janelle doesn't know, and as she and Gabe revisit their interrupted romance, she begins to uncover the truth denied to her when she ran away all those years ago.
Ms. Hart continues to venture out of her erotic roots and into the realm of mainstream fiction and mystery. In The Favor, childhood memories play a critical roll not only in the choices the characters make but the choices they refuse to make. The mystery surrounding Janelle and the Tierney brothers is hinted at throughout the story, giving the reader a number of possibilities while maintaining the undercurrent of tension.
In developing the characters, Hart shows how people react differently to the same event. The long term results are not always what is expected or even wanted but must still be dealt with. For Janelle, going back to St. Mary's is something she has been avoiding for years but now must face it, and her past, head on. A big part of that past is right next door in the form of Gabe Tierney. At first, Gabe is not a likable character nor is he meant to be. As we get to know Gabe we see how he has become this unhappy, depressed man living in penance for his past. No one needs to punish Gabe for his sins, he's become very good at punishing himself. I waited to feel sorry for him, but never really got to the point of feeling sorry for the man he had become.
Janelle is a single mother who tries to give her son a stable life but allows her need to run from her past make creating that stable very difficult. I liked the patience Janelle showed towards her grandmother. Their relationship was portrayed with love, devotion and a strength that many of us can only hope to show when faced when taking care of a terminally ill family member.
I found myself drawn into the story until the point when the mystery of what happened all those years ago was revealed. At that point I debated if I should continue with the book. Not to get into spoilers but I was very disturbed by the events and disappointed in the characters and the choices made when they were younger. Yes, they had been young but youth is not always a viable excuse.
In the end, I liked seeing how these characters built and rebuilt their relationships. The Favor is a look at family ties, both the good and the bad, and the long lasting affects of those relationships.