Vanessa came to St. Dennis as a young woman to escape the brutalities of an unspeakably abusive marriage. It took a considerable amount of time for her to trust and to realize that she was surrounded by people who loved her despite, and maybe a little more because of, her flaws and scars. Gray makes her feel renewed and alive and despite the threats against her, she also feels safe and protected. When her estranged mother unexpectedly shows up at the wedding, her appearance stirs up an entirely different set of emotions for Vanessa to sort through.
COMING HOME, first in the new Chesapeake Diaries series by Mariah Stewart, is a heartwarming book that deals with several subjects, not all of which are sweet and pretty. Ms. Stewart touches on subjects seldom brought to light in small-town romances, such as neglect, abuse, and murder. Vanessa’s past was unsavory on many levels and she unashamedly and regretfully admits her mistakes. Gray was betrayed by those closest to him and as a result had closed himself off from the family who loves and cares about him.
There has been a resurgence of contemporary small-town romance recently and I can’t help but feel that with realistic, heartwarming stories like COMING HOME, the trend will successfully continue.