About the Book
Book: When I Come Home Again
Series: Big Prairie Romance #1
Author: Jennifer Rodewald
Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance
Release Date: January 1, 2020
A tragic fallout drove them apart. When a family crisis calls him back to his small hometown where she still lives, will forgiveness lead them to a second chance?
Brenna Blaum had been sure of three things in her life—her brother, her running, and her dad’s star receiver. But in a matter of a year’s time, everything she’d counted on fell apart, leaving her devastated. Seven years later, she’s stable again. She has a supportive boyfriend, a fulfilling career, and close friends. She keeps her past heartache where it belongs—in her rearview mirror. Until the man who broke her heart finds his way back to Big Prairie.
Craig Erikson had it all—popularity, success, and the love of his high school coach’s daughter. But after a year of mistakes that ended in a tragic accident, he’d left Big Prairie—the place he’d thought to always call home—hoping that without his antagonizing presence, Brenna would be able to heal. Now his mother desperately needs him, as do two young boys in her care. Craig has little choice but to return for good.
Unsure that she can forgive him, Brenna does her best to avoid him. Irritated that she ignores him as if they’d never meant anything to each other, Craig becomes determined not to allow it.
Life in a small town forces their interaction, making them confront their unresolved issues and igniting emotions that have smoldered for seven years. As Craig and Brenna are pushed together, can they endure the hard places still littering their lives? If so, is it possible to find their way back to love and home again?
When I Come Home Again by Jennifer Rodewald is a highly emotional story that has left me a little unsure how to adequately review this read. This novel has all I’ve come to expect from a Jennifer Rodewald story: an engaging conflict that kept me turning pages well into the night; a cast of characters who are well-developed, endearing in their own right, and relatable; and, timely themes that have made me think. By all rights, When I Come Home Again is a stellar, 5-STAR novel that I highly recommend. But, I did struggle a little — OK, I struggled A LOT — with Brenna Blaum, the heroine of this novel. I am leaving this story not OK with Brenna, her issues, or her happily-ever-after ending, and I feel weird admitting that I feel this way even though I really loved the story.
I absolutely cannot stand when people play the victim. Brenna Blaum plays the victim. In my life, I have been surrounded by many family members who play the victim. They all have the same characteristics — they are whiny, angry, manipulative humans who cannot or will not take responsibility for their lives and the choices they’ve made. They are often very immature people who believe they are justified in blaming others for EVERYTHING. And, they often are incapable of seeing reason. Brenna plays the victim for most of this novel, and I struggled the entire read to like her. When she finally has moments of clarity, and recognizes that A LOT of her issues stem from herself and the choices she has made, when she finally starts down her road to redemption, it was too little too late for me. For about 3/4ths of this story, Brenna is cold and mean, and boy, does she BLAME, BLAME, BLAME! Perhaps if she had thawed a little earlier in the storyline I may have felt differently about Brenna and her redemption. But honestly, I just found her exhausting and I wanted her to go away.
For a fictional character, Brenna has real issues. In her fictional world, she needs real medical attention — massive amounts of therapy and possibly medicine — to deal with her manipulative tendencies, her jealousy issues, and her anger. Yes, she needs God as we all do. Yes, she needs love as we all do. But her needs go beyond a few prayers and an “I’m sorry, forgive me” moment. Brenna is EXACTLY like my sister-in-law and I see the extreme damage being done to my brother and niece because of my SIL’s manipulation, jealousy, and anger. I find my perspective of Brenna being totally skewed. Maybe this book hits too close to home right now. But, all I can see for Craig, the hero of When I Come Home Again, is a life of struggle and pain until Brenna’s issues are dealt with on a realistic, not romantic, level. I find myself not able to buy the happily-ever-after ending, and that makes me a little sad.
With all this said, I still highly recommend When I Come Home Again. Jennifer Rodewald is a master storyteller who is gifted at pulling the heartstrings and getting readers to look within. I am wholeheartedly eager for all Ms. Rodewald has in store for her readers, and cannot wait for book 2 in this series.
I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the author, Jennifer Rodewald. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.