WHERE THE HEART IS is the first installment (novella) in Darcy Burke’s Ribbon Ridge romance series focusing on the Archer sextuplets (Evan, Sara, Alex, Tori, Kyle & Liam) of Ribbon Ridge and their younger brother Hayden. This is the Archer family best friend and Archer Industries CFO Derek Sumner, and art teacher Chloe English’s storyline. The timeline follows a few weeks prior to the Christmas holidays wherein Chloe finds herself homeless and dependent upon the charity of friends.
Told from alternating third person perspectives WHERE THE HEART IS introduces the reader to the well-to-do and successful Archer family of Ribbon Ridge including the infamous sextuplets who, as children and tweens, were featured in a reality television series Seven is Enough. The Archer family own a series of microbreweries and pubs, and in this Archer Industries has been established. The focus of the storyline follows the Archer family’s ‘foster son’ Derek Sumner-a volunteer firefighter, amongst other noteworthy professions- as he embarks on a relationship with the woman whose burned out apartment finds her in desperate need of housing and friends.
Derek will introduce Chloe English to the Archer family who welcome the young woman like one of their own. When the Archer family patriarch Robert, reminds Derek that his own family home is currently available for the now homeless Chloe, Derek’s own horrific memories of the past begin to overwhelm and take control.
The relationship between Chloe and Derek is very quick to develop-one of instant attraction, lust and love that is tempered by Derek’s constant need to run when memories of the past haunt his thoughts. Offering Chloe his family home sets into motion a series of misunderstandings and heartbreak as Derek runs when the going gets tough. The $ex scenes are intimate and provocative but I did take issue with the lack of condoms.
The Archer family of Ribbon Ridge is not perfect. They are a close knit family but due to the inherent and potential issues with multiple births-and in this case 6 babies at once-the now adult sextuplets are not without some emotional, mental and physical problems including OCD, Asperger’s syndrome, SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder), chronic lung disease and depression. Each storyline will end with a happily ever after but getting there will be heartbreaking and emotional.
WHERE THE HEART IS is a quick read; a novella length storyline that introduces the Archer family with all of their quirks and problems, issues and struggles, and the never ending stream of people who come and go in their lives. Darcy Burke does a fantastic job building a world where the potential for future storylines is but a heartbreak away. A passionate, intelligent and intriguing look at an extraordinary family trying to maintain an ordinary life.
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