As a crime fiction addict, I can’t even tell you the last time I read a romance novel, but if anyone was going to get me to read one again it was Nicola. Having been introduced to her work this year from the domestic suspense genre, I really wanted to see if I could connect with the romance side of her work and I am pleased to say I did. I absolutely loved this book! A rural romance set in the fictional town of Brockenridge in my home state of Victoria is the perfect novel to lose yourself in. I was completely caught up in the story and it’s wonderful characters. Also knowing the places that are mentioned in the story was a great bonus. You will definitely walk away after you finish this book with a warm fuzzy feeling. Oh dear god what have you done to me Nicola!! 😱
Long Way Home, the first book in the Brockenridge series, sees Ruby Ashton returning to her home town of Brockenridge after an 11 year absence. Having left under terrible circumstances, it is also terrible circumstances that prompt her return after the passing of her beloved mother Clara. Wanting to tie up her mother’s affairs as quickly as possible so she can return to Melbourne, she ends up staying longer than expected when she discovers that her mother not only worked at the local roadhouse, but she was also secretly the owner, which comes as a big shock to all who knew her well.
Ruby is torn between wanting to leave and wanting to make sure that her mother’s legacy and her employees are looked after. Her plans are thrown into turmoil when local property tycoon, and one time almost high school sweetheart Connor Delaney, wants to acquire the land the roadhouse is on to tear it down and build a luxurious golf resort. Now the townsfolk, even the ones that ran Ruby out of town all those years ago, rally around her to save the roadhouse. It becomes more personal to Ruby when she discovers just how much of a connection her mother had to the roadhouse which in turn also changes her life.
The characters in this story are all well written, developed, are real and all come to life beautifully throughout the pages. Apart from the mean girls, I loved them all. Ruby Ashton, the story’s main protagonist, tore at the heartstrings. From the ill treatment she received from some her class mates which lead to her departure, to returning and dealing with her grief over the loss of her mother and facing her renewed feelings for Connor, she is a strong caring woman and I really resonated with her. Connor is an all round good guy. Out to prove himself to everyone that he is more than his family name, he needs to make this resort happen, but is also torn over his feelings for Ruby. He is a genuine guy who I just loved and I was rooting for them both throughout.
In a secondary plot to Ruby and Connor’s story we also have Alisha’s and Harry’s. Alisha was a great character that I adored. As Clara’s best friend and confidant you also feel Alisha’s pain of losing her. We are also given a great insight into her life. From India where she was adopted, she has been given the best life from her parents but feels she needs to try and find her birth mother and find out more about her heritage. On top of this, she is also harbouring secret feelings for Harry who is the chef at the roadhouse. Harry is a complex character but under that hard exterior is a man who has been through a lot which has shaped him into a guarded man who has trouble letting people in. I look forward to more of these two in the next story.
This is a beautifully written heart felt story that is emotionally satisfying. There is something about Nicola’s writing that just captivates me, engages me and draws me in no matter what genre. She is able to make you feel part of the story and feel all of the emotions that each of the characters go through. After reading Long Way Home, I can see how Nicola won awards for Romantic Book of the Year and a National Readers’ Choice Award in this genre. She is such a gifted storyteller, that is able to switch between genres so seamlessly. I am so glad that I was introduced to Nicolas work this year. She has definitely become one of my favourite authors and I can’t wait for more books in this series and others from her.
So do I recommend this book? Inspired by the theme of the story, here is my recommendation…..
Roses are red, violets are blue, I really loved this book and I know that you will too! ❤️
Thank-you to NetGalley, Harlequin Australia and Nicola Marsh for allowing me to read an advanced copy of Long Way Home which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.
Set in northern Victoria, Long Way Home showcases all the good things about rural communities. This is very much a David and Goliath story in which Ruby Aston, who has returned home from Melbourne for her mother’s funeral, takes on the powerful and wealthy Delaney Corporation in a battle to save The Watering Hole roadhouse from being demolished to make way for a golf resort. It’s the characters in this book that made it special for me. Within the roadhouse there are loyal staff members Alisha, Tash and wonder chef Harry, each with their own issues to deal with. Thrown into the mix is Connor Delaney Connor Delaney, who has also returned home to take over the reins as CEO of Delaney Corporation. Ruby and Connor have history and the push and pull between these two as the story progresses is one of the things that kept me turning the pages. I also loved the way that the townspeople supported Ruby through the challenges she faced. I guess the only things that didn’t appeal so much were the that the investors in Delaney Corporation were so utterly vile and that the mean girls from school got quite such stupendous comeuppances when Ruby returned. That all seemed a little contrived. That aside, this was a thoroughly entertaining story.