Jessica Weldon has been carrying pain for 30 years, and she never lets anyone close as a result. After some soul searching and therapy, she knows the only way to let go and build the life she wants and deserves is to return to Clearwater Springs and confront everything she ran away from after high school.
Dakota Scott might seem incredibly lucky, since she’s from the wealthiest family in town and they have the resources to cover any mistake. But she has her own difficulties to bear between her mother’s serious mental illness and the night Dakota can’t forget, no matter how hard she tries.
Both women are teaching at the same high school—Jessie as a temporary English teacher and Dakota as a gym teacher and coach—but it’s only when a student athlete finds herself on the academic rocks that their worlds collide. Dakota and Jessie have incredible chemistry and can’t seem to stop the mutual attraction that steamrolls over them. Can they find love and let go of their pain together?
I want to get this out of the way first. Can we please all pause and celebrate the fact that both of these women are in their mid to late 40s? Because there are so few in lesfic and it’s refreshing to see!
Dakota and Jessie are complex women with enough baggage to fill a school bus. I was happy to see that they have excellent character arcs that help them become better people for their own sakes and also be better suited as partners for each other.
There are also quite a few side characters in the book, between Dakota’s family, some of their students, and Jessie’s foster father, Curtis. Everyone is great except the one sister who we’re clearly not meant to like, and I appreciated that Levig included positive polyamorous representation with Dakota’s twin brother Drew and his two partners.
The Writing Style
A Heart to Call Home is beautifully written. It has so much angst and tension that works well alongside the chemistry and pull between Jessie and Dakota. Even though I knew it’s a romance and that they would have a happily ever after, their crisis still brought tears to my eyes (which NEVER happens). I adored how their story ended and I would love to see more of these characters in a follow up short story or something.
Lori Prince has really been stepping up her narration game and she did a fabulous job with A Heart to Call Home. Her skills especially shined in all of the angsty bits, bringing all of Dakota and Jessie’s feelings to the surface in ways that are believable and relatable. She also did a nice job of differentiating the characters so I never had any issue following who was saying what.
Everything. Every. Single. Thing.
If you like excellent, angsty romance with complex character work, you must read A Heart to Call Home. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down and it was just SO GOOD. This book tore me apart and then put me back together and I couldn’t be happier about it. It’s one of my favourite books this year and I will definitely read it again.
Excerpt from A Heart to Call Home by Jeannie Levig
Dakota moved down the walk. She didn’t want to scare her, wanted to keep it light. “Are you stalking me?” she asked, loudly enough to be heard, but hopefully not loud enough to frighten.
Jessica spun around, clearly startled despite Dakota’s attempt not to do that very thing, then her expression relaxed with obvious recognition. “I was taking a walk.”
“Really? Isn’t it kind of late?” Was it? Dakota didn’t know what time it was.
“You know what they say, there’s only the now.” Jessica gave her a curious look. “What are you doing here?”
“I live here,” Dakota said, feeling on somewhat firm footing with Jessica for the first time since she’d walked into her classroom the previous week.
“You live here?” Jessica’s surprise was evident.
“Mm-hm. Right there. In the very house we’re in front of.” Dakota tilted her head. “Hence, my question. Are you stalking me?”
Jessica looked at the house as though taking in every detail.
“You know, you didn’t have to come all the way over here to ask me out,” Dakota said, teasing her. “You could have looked up my number in the faculty directory.” She hadn’t known those words were going to come out of her mouth, but since they had, in a second she might have the answer to one of her questions about Jessica.
Jessica parted her lips, but only a sputter came out. Her cheeks, already a bright pink from the chilly air, darkened to red. “I didn’t come over to ask you out.”
Okay. She didn’t say she isn’t gay. That was the first thing straight women said when a lesbian hit on them—if they weren’t interested, that is. That was something.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781635550597
- Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
- Audiobook Publisher: Bold Strokes Books Inc
- Narrator: Lori Prince
Jeannie Levig Online
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