Reviewer: Amy Lignor
Title: The Homecoming - 1st in the Shelter Bay series
Author: JoAnn Ross
Release Date: July 2010
Genre/Sub-genre: Contemporary Romance
Year/Setting: Present day, Shelter Bay
Overall Rating: 4.5
Sexual Content Rating: Subtle/Sensual
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: Mild/Moderate
Violent Content Rating: Minimal/Moderate
JoAnn's Website/Blog: www.joannross.com
I have truly fallen in love with Shelter Bay; talk about the most gorgeous place on Earth. I have no doubt that, after reading this, all readers will want to move to that paradise ASAP. The author begins her novel with Sax Douchett walking his dog, Velcro, down the immaculate beach that hugs the Coast. The reader can actually see the lightning bolts flashing off the white-capped water, turning the froth neon green. The breeze circles man and dog, as Sax tries his best to snap himself out of the memories – the pictures and haunting images of his recent past – that seem to appear in the ghostly, fog-ridden morning.
Sax has recently come home to Shelter Bay. A member of a strong and elite SEAL team, Sax recently lost his friends in battle and found himself alone in the Hindu Kush…bleeding and presumed dead. The only thing that kept him alive was the thought of his home – walking down this very beach and thanking the Lord above that he was still breathing. Shelter Bay and the promise of a happy, peaceful life was what kept his heart beating and allowed him to ward off the Taliban assassins who were coming for him.
Now, much to Sax’s disbelief and anxiety, the local VFW and Shelter Bay Council are planning a huge parade to be thrown for their favorite hero. Sax doesn’t think of himself that way; he feels that the real heroes were the friends he left behind – who still come to visit him once in a while to talk. He’ll never tell anyone about these "sightings" however, because he would like his friends and family to believe that he’s still completely sane…well, as sane as he always was.
What Sax needs is a new project…a new life. His parents once had a restaurant called Bon Temps that served the best Cajun food in the country. After many weather tragedies, Sax’s parents opted out of fixing the restaurant back up, and now run a small bait shop in town. Sax is thinking about reopening the "hot spot" when Velcro suddenly comes loping back through the fog and places a bone at his master’s feet. Sax sighs; he’d really been hoping that he’d never have to see another dead human again.
Enter Sheriff Kara Conway. Kara is a single mom who has moved back to her birthplace from California where she was a police officer. She’d followed her father with her career choice, but when her husband had been shot by a wife-beater while on duty, Kara thought it was best to leave the horrific city so that her beloved son didn’t end up to be an orphan. Her father has died, as well. Some say he was accidentally shot by a hunter in Shelter Bay, but no one really knows the truth. Kara and her son live with her mother, a beautiful woman who is also a surgeon, who wants nothing more than for her daughter to find happiness again.
When Kara gets the call from Sax regarding a human bone, she rushes to the scene. She even feels a bit excited, considering that the only crime that ever happens in Shelter Bay is jaywalking. Soon, the mystery begins; more bones are found; an old cold case that Kara’s father was working on reopens; the Deputy’s son is shot during the town’s fireworks festival and there are no suspects; and, the ghosts of the past come back to life.
This book is a solid mystery, but the other aspects of the novel, including the fantastic relationship between Kara and her mother, not to mention the romance that springs up between Sax and Kara as they struggle to deal with all the people they’ve lost, and Kara’s son, who truly honors and respects his fallen father with all his heart, really make this book a stand-out suspense novel. Another upside is that we’re not at the end. There are more Shelter Bay novels to come that salute romance, mystery, and the fantastic men and women who have lost a great deal in service to our country (may God bless every single one of them.) I hope these men and women come home to their own "Shelter Bay" paradise one day. They, more than anyone else on the planet, deserve it! Enjoy this one, guys and gals. It’s a definite keeper!
Until next time, Amy
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