Monday, January 2, 2012

Review: A Place Called Home

A Place Called Home
Jo Goodman
Contemporary Romance
Zebra/December 6, 2011

From Goodreads ~

When Thea Wyndham and Mitchell Baker learn they've been named joint guardians for their late friends' three children, they're little more than acquaintances. Barely polite acquaintances, at that. Something about Mitch's forthright intensity has always left ad exec Thea feeling off-balance, while Mitch makes no secret of his disdain when Thea offers him financial assistance if he'll take sole guardianship.

Thea is far from heartless. She's just plain terrified of her new parenting responsibilities. Both she and Mitch are romantically involved with other people. Yet the more time they spend together, the less certain she is of her loyalties. There are complications and mis-steps, tears and laughter - lots of it. And somehow, through it all, the dawning realization that the last place she thought she'd find herself could be just where she belongs.

I've been reading Ms. Goodman for many years but this is her first venture into contemporary romance, having stuck to historical and western romances. I must say I was cautious, knowing how much I enjoy her writing but unsure as to how that would translate into a contemporary setting. My concerns were needless, Ms. Goodman easily brings her wonderful, emotional story-telling to a modern day setting.

Thea Wyndham has suffered a tremendous shock. After learning her childhood friend and his wife were killed by a drunk driver, Thea then finds out she, along with Mitch Baker, has been named guardian of their three children. Thea is unprepared to become a parent to the children and makes this clear to Mitch. At first she comes off as cold and distant, showing only glimpses of her concern for the children. Thea's mothering instincts had been buried deep which made me want to know why. She's not cruel but has her shields up and defenses at full strength.

If you must appoint a guardian for your children, Mitch Baker is a great choice. He doesn't have kids of his own, in fact his experience with kids is with his friends children. But he embraces his guardianship even though inside he is terrified of making a mistake. Mitch is nearly perfect in his parenting, with only one real mistake. I kept wondering when his mask would slip and we would see the real person behind the perfection but it never really did. I would have liked to see him less than perfect since his perfection only served to spotlighted Thea's flaws.

The romance is balanced with the growing relationship between Mitch, Thea and the children. You really couldn't have the romance without including the children since they are the reason for Mitch and Thea to be together. I do think it's fair to say the romance wasn't always front and but character development apart from each other also occurred. There are other people in their lives that impact not only the relationships with the children but also how Thea and Mitch proceed with their growing feelings. Goodman handles it well, showing how each of the characters perspectives change and grow.

The ending didn't come as a surprise but getting there was filled with a complex romance that showed not only how two people can come together but can create a new family out of a tragedy. The main problem I had was Mitch's perfection, since flawed characters are so much more interesting. There was also the odd romance from two secondary characters. What made it odd is that it didn't add much to the overall story. I felt it was unnecessary to the main plot and found I cared little for either character. Otherwise, I enjoyed this contemporary romance from Ms. Goodman and will read any more contemporaries she writes.

Rating: B


  1. I had difficulty getting through it myself, a rare thing with a Goodman book. It was too woman's fiction-y, the heroine had too many hang-ups from her past, the hero was too superbly "nice." Treacle. And you're right, the secondary romance was almost ridiculuous, sort of a consolation prize for the "losers."

  2. Hmmmm, nice review Les :) I think yours is the first positive review I've read for this book. Most ppl though it was too slow... which is why I've yet to picked up this book. I don't know, Ms Wiggs wrote something quite similar a couple of years ago and I enjoyed that one...

    By the way, you have a paragraph that was repeated in the review :)

  3. I still haven't gotten around to reading this one yet. I get a bit leary sometimes when a favoured author switches genres, although when I do read there new genre, I tend to love them.

  4. Anon ~ I wished Mitch had been more flawed. Like you said, he was too nice. LOL about the secondary romance & the consolation prize.

    Nath ~ Really? I'm surprised a the lack of positive reviews. Goodman can write. Maybe it's because it's such a deviation from her usual. I think I read the Wiggs book - Table for Five?

    Kristie ~ I know what you mean about the switching genres. A while back many of my favorite historical authors switched to contemporary and I hated it!

  5. I've seen so many so-so or negative reviews for this book, it kept me away. But you give me hope. :P If I see this one at the library, I'll approach with an open mind.

  6. Leslie, you liked this book much more than I did. I had a problem getting into it... it dragged for me. I had such a tough time with Thea (sigh), and agree with you that Mitch needed a few extra flaws here and there. There was a lack of balance in characterization, IMHO.

  7. Ames ~ snatch it up if you see it at the library. :)

    Hils ~ I would agree that there is more focus on Thea than Mitch. She had so many issues to work through and Mitch was Mr. Mom with his family there to help him.

  8. Fell in love with this author after reading If His Smile is Wicked. Jo Goodman is such a talented writer. I am busy accumulating all her books and have most of them already. If you enjoy historical romance without all the sleeze then this is the author for you. Her plots are believable and grab you from page one.

  9. Brasil ~ Goodman has been one of my favorites for years. So many good books for you to enjoy! I'm fond of her Dennehy Sisters and the Compass Club series.