This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Released on December 31, 2019
Returning to the Blessings, Georgia world is like a nostalgic visit to a place that only exists in your most delightful daydreams. Each installment welcomes one back to a little town in the Georgia foothills peopled by folk that can make you smile or shake your head and a new romance pair who have their own unique troubles and are better together.
The Way Back to You is the ninth in the Blessings, Georgia series of standalone romances all tied strongly together by a locale and growing cast of characters.
Sully Raines sets out on a personal journey of the heart that takes him from Kansas City, MO via a roundabout way to Blessings, GA while hunting the birth mother who gave him up as a baby. He is still grappling with the knowledge that he was adopted and the direct lies his parents fed him for years. He isn’t angry or bitter toward either adopted or birth family. He had a good childhood and loved his parents, but is at a loss now that they are dead and gone. Needing to know the answers to his questions, he retires from the fire department and sets out only to arrive in the latest town in time to pull out his emergency responder skills to help save a life. A strong dose of fate has led him to this magical town and the magic of long buried teen love that has become something strong.
Melissa can’t believe that it’s Sully Raines, her teenage crush, who saved her life. The old spark that she thought was a long dead ember has flamed to life and she gladly helps him search for his birth mom even as she hopes she won’t lose him once again when he finds what he’s looking for or gets a new clue to hare off after. For the first time in the decades since her husband’s death, she is open to love and a relationship.
Meanwhile, Blessings, Georgia is never dull for several others in town especially when a pillar of the community gets outed as an alcoholic and new danger with a shady past comes home.
This series seems to have a unique effect on me. It has a nostalgic, modern magical quality to it that makes me notice, but not care that if these situations happened in life, they could rarely result the way they do. This hunt for a birth family and answers and the running into a first teen love were as low angst and devoid of conflict as it can get. It’s not that there isn’t any conflict in the story. The conflict is external to the person and their relationships so it ends up with tension, but not much angst. This is just my need at times and I think that’s why it hits my happy reading spot so well. It felt like a heartwarming holiday read without the holiday.
After that, I’m sure I hinted enough that you know I adored Sully and Melissa and cheered him on to find his mother and cheered them to a relationship where he could stay in Blessings with Melissa. Sully and Melissa are both in their early forties with one relationship apiece behind them and years to to learn to live alone. Neither really carry baggage so much as just have been content to wait until its the right person or to go along relying on friends to fill the loneliness. That said, Sully and Melissa have both buried their parents and have no siblings so the yearning for family and connection is what drives him in particular to search out those who are left and each other. There is an immediate attraction and a return to the ease of their childhood friendship that builds into something more rather quickly. Now, its just an issue of putting the heart out there when Sully isn’t sure what he’ll do next.
Beyond their stories are the stories of a new widow who learns that her friends were not really friends, Lovey who is trying to get back on her feet after the hurricane nearly killed her and destroyed her house, an escaped convict, and a mysterious woman new to town. The big mystery of who in Blessings is Sully’s mother wasn’t that big of a mystery and probably wasn’t meant to be. The backstory was so heartbreaking that I found it easy to understand how it all came to be. That late new character addition and his story might have been a bit over the top on coincidence and fate, but it sure had my happy cup overflowing.
It was fun to see Elliot, the town recluse, sometimes psychic, and brilliant artist get more page time. He was so quirky. I hope to see more of him. But, the other fun part is when many of the former characters cameo or are strong secondary characters in the latest story so I can keep up on their lives. The mystery of who took over ownership and reopened the grocery store and also who our secretive red-headed backpacker is will carry over to the next book.
All in all, this gently-paced, rich in the good feels, sweet with a pinch of spice small town romance was just the thing and I can heartily recommend the series to those who enjoy that style of contemporary romance.
My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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