The Way Home by N.J. Walters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The second book in the Jamesville series, this is another sweet, "feel good" story that's miles away from the steamy hot erotic novels usually delivered by N.J. Walters.
Jake Tanner has a "business proposition" for his friend Rebecca Gentry: marriage. Jake's brother and sister-in-law have just died in a car accident, leaving their 4-year-old daughter Casey orphaned. Jake's been named Casey's legal guardian, but he would have taken her anyway because she's family. He needs help raising his niece and his brother's death makes him think that maybe it's time he got married and had children of his own, so Rebecca is the perfect answer to all these "problems". He doesn't love her - not in the romantic way - but they've been friends for seven years, he likes her and she's the only woman he will ever consider marrying.
Rebecca has been in love with Jake since she met him, and marrying him should be a dream come true. But his proposal is less than romantic and he makes it clear that even though he cares for her and their marriage will be a real one - after all, he wants kids -, she shouldn't expect him to love her. Ever. He doesn't do love, because life has taught him that you can only get hurt when you love someone. Can Rebecca accept Jake's "conditions"? Of course she can, because she believes he'll grow to love her over time. As this is a romance novel, it's a given he will but they'll have to face some bumps along the way, mainly because Jake's a bit thick in the head...
Oh boy, I lost count of the times I found myself wanting to shake some sense into Jake... He just didn't have a clue and kept making one mistake after another. At one particular moment, I actually winced when he went a little too far and said some cruel things to Rebecca. He didn't know when to shut up and when to speak up, and Rebecca refused to help him. Here's how one of their arguments went:
Rebecca: "It's not enough. I need more than that from you."
Jake: "What game are you playing? Tell me what you want me to say and we can go home."
She knew he didn't understand what she wanted and it wasn't something she could tell him. Either he loved and trusted her or he didn't.
Jake: "Tell me what to say."
Rebecca: "I can't. If you don't know, I can't tell you."
I know I shouldn't have, but I laughed out loud when I read that scene. I mean, "If you don't know, I can't tell you" is a classic, isn't it? ;) Strangely enough, I didn't hate Jake despite his jerk-ish moments. It was clear to me that he wasn't mean, he was just utterly clueless. Plus, there was a vulnerability in him that made him likable and he did make amends in a beautiful way, so I ended up forgiving him.
Rebecca was a bit too nice and perfect to be true, but I liked her too. Despite the fact that she accepted Jake's loveless proposal and was content with having only his friendship in return for her love for a while, she wasn't a doormat and wasn't going to wait for him forever.
As for the story's pace, there was too much telling and not enough showing at times. I also noticed that trait when I read Discovering Dani, but it didn't bother me then as much as it did now. It wasn't too annoying, but it was enough to dampen part of my enjoyment.
All in all, this was a pleasant read and I'm certainly going to keep reading this series.
View all my reviews