Review originally posted here: http://thebookpushers.com/2012/07/17/review-where-the-heart-lies-by-michelle-garren-flye/
I had some really high hopes and expectations for this book, and while there were some parts I definitely enjoyed, I hate to say that overall, this one really didn’t work that well for me.
Alicia’s husband wanted to move their family back to his hometown and take over his father’s bookstore. When he was killed in action, Alicia honors his wishes and moves herself and two small children back to his childhood home. Only life isn’t what Alicia expected. She finds herself attracted to Liam, the childhood best friend of her late husband, and an entire town who doesn’t want to see the two of them together.
Despite the town’s constant butting into her life, Alicia and Liam develop a close friendship that over time blossoms into more. As scared as Alicia is to love again, the pull between her and Liam is one that she has the hardest time overcoming, and with Liam out to prove what a wonderful man he’s become, Alicia might be willing to give love a second chance.
The biggest thing that annoyed me about this book was Alicia’s supposed best friend Penny. Although they had only met once or twice before Alicia’s move, Penny swooped in and demanded the two become besties. That didn’t bother me, but it was the incessant nagging and badgering and putting down that Penny did to Alicia for her relationship with Liam. It was almost as if Penny was jealous of their friendship and developing relationship, so she constantly told Alicia she shouldn’t hang out with Liam, shouldn’t give him a chance, and many time insinuated that Alicia was somehow betraying her husband’s memory. The woman was rude and insensitive and she drove me up the wall from the moment she first stepped onto the page. Even after learning her true reasons behind it, I felt as if it didn’t justify her crappy behavior towards her supposed best friend.
I’m a big fan of romances that develop a friendship and slowly progress to love – when they are done right. While I liked the time Alicia and Liam took to become friends and then more, I also felt as if they danced around each other a lot. They had chapters of push and pull, angst and indecision that started to feel less like the slow-burn and more like wishy-washy character flaws. I wanted to believe in their romance, but it never really seemed to click for me.
Now, I’m going to reveal a huge spoiler, which is something I don’t normally do, but it was also one of the bigger plot points that made me scratch my head and wonder WHY exactly it needed to be a part of the story.
**SPOILER: We find out toward the end of the book that Penny’s high school aged daughter is actually the child of Alicia’s late husband. For me, it really ruined the image of Alicia’s husband, and felt like it was a way to justify Alicia’s moving on. I didn’t think it added anything good to the story, and instead left me feeling just plain bad for everyone involved. I thought the book would have been just as strong without it, and was hugely disappointed with this information.**
All in all I was disappointed that this book didn’t live up to the potential that I initially saw in it. With a lackluster romance, and secondary characters who drove me bonkers, there wasn’t much to pull me in and keep me happy.
I give Where the Heart Lies a D+