Sara's Reward by Joan Early
Don't let the too hot to handle cover fool ya (and it is an awesomely hot one, I have to admit). There is a wonderful, warm story as yummy as sweet potato pie between these covers that proves you can go home again.
Sara leaves her affluent lifestyle and her prestigious yet neglecting lawyer husband once she suspects his infideltiy, with her best friend, no less. After a devastating miscarriage, she returns home to Chaumiere Isle where her Aunt Olivia (Liv) and Uncle brought her up after Sara's parents died when she was young. When Sara returns to the home she grew up, it is quite different and very full with an assortment of boarders who have become a sort of surrogate family. There's volatile Vietnam Vet Mr. Nash, Aria a hard working young girl who once lived on the streets and is struggling with low confidence in herself but has a big heart; and then there's Michael. The hot yet sweet confident New Englander who comes from a family whose big on money, but low on family and showing love amongst one another. Each and every one of these characters find something under the family that Aunt Liv has created within her home. At first Sara is shocked that her Aunt let strangers live in and is somewhat put off that they may have taken over her place in the home as family. But as time goes on, she learns to live with everyone and find strength to live and love again.
This book is FABULOUS. I loved this story so much because it was a romance and yet a book about a woman finding her strength again. This was an awesomely well written novel filled with interesting characters from all walks of life, a complex heroine and a sweet, strong hero you just wanna take home. Fabulous characterization, a great setting and a warm hearted plot makes you feel like your favorite aunt has wrapped you up in a homemade quilt to tell you this timeless love story.
While I can't recommend this novel highly enough, I can't recommend the publisher. NCP has had some underhanded dealing and based on recent reports hasn't been treating their authors very fairly. For all the news check Dear Author or Karen Knows Best. It's a shame reading the reports as a reader and even more so as an author because it's hard to find a good small indie press these days (I'm jazzed to have found at least one fab one I work with) who treat authors very well. I tried looking up the author and for awhile I couldn't find any information on her. Finally I came upon her website: http://www.joanearly.com and an announcement for two new book coming out January 2009. Do yourself a favor and check out this fabulous story of loss, regret, love, family and renewal which is definitely one for the keeper shelf.
Since this book came out in 2007 I can't exactly put it on my best reads of 2008 (since it's for '08 releases) but I can make it an honorary best of 2008. I can't wait to go back for seconds. ;-)