I first discovered Sarah Mayberry's books through the Blaze line. Hot Island Nights was one of my favorites of 2010. So when someone suggested we do Home for the Holidays this holiday week, I was all for it. This wonderful contemporary, set in Australia, didn't disappoint! Joe is a widowed dad with two kids who were old enough to be traumatized by their mother's sudden death in a car accident two years before the story opens. What I really loved was that the kids were very realistically drawn. They weren't just plot devices. They were critical to the story. Joe's daughter forms a bond with his new next-door neighbor Hannah, a rough-around-the-edges mechanic who has been shattered by the betrayal of her fiance, who hooked up with her SISTER! A month before the wedding. OUCH.
So when Joe and Hannah meet, both are recovering from loss and disappointment. Their relationship develops slowly and the focus for a long time is Joe's daughter's friendship with Hannah. Throughout the whole book, Hannah talks about her goal to ride her motorcycle around Australia. To be honest, I didn't think she'd really go once she formed the bond with Joe and his kids. So I was surprised when she actually got on her bike and drove away, leaving the three people she'd come to love. It doesn't take her long on the road to realize that she'd left her heart behind and she returns home to them.
They are on their way to happily ever after when Hannah discovers a lump in her breast. I gotta tell you, when the breast cancer thing came up, I was shrieking NO NO NO! I didn't think I was going to like that storyline, but after reading the ending, I loved what Sarah did with it, how Joe made the children part of the decision to keep Hannah in their lives and to confront her illness as a family. I also loved that Hannah came right out and TOLD him she had breast cancer rather than breaking up with him for some manufactured reason and then expecting him to believe that she really wanted to end it with him. That was very well done! Hannah was a terrific heroine who remained true to herself even as she watched her life spin out of control as she fell for Joe and his kids. I've since read The Best Laid Plans, and I really liked that one too. Sarah does something in her books that I try to do in mine: she keeps the couple TOGETHER for most of the book rather than constantly apart (a pet peeve of mine in a lot of contemporary romance these days). I love seeing them work it out together. I will definitely be reading more of Sarah's books!
I'm looking forward to welcoming Sarah today and to talking about Home for the Holidays and her other books. Sarah has graciously agreed to give away three books today: Hot Island Nights, Best Laid Plans and her upcoming February release, The Last Goodbye. Please join me in welcoming Sarah!
Find out more about Sarah and her books on her website!
For today's recipe, I give you Ronlyn's AWESOME Firecracker Marinade. If you haven't tried this, you are missing out!
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp olive or veg. oil
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tsp red pepper sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped.
Mix it all up and serve it over pork loin or whatever tickles your fancy. I've had it on pork tenderloin and it is AMAZING!