A Time for Home by Alexis Morgan
ORDER A COPY: A Time For Home: A Snowberry Creek Novel
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Publishing Date: September 3, 2013
Paperback: 336 pages
Rating: 3 stars
As Nick Jenkins travels from the war zones of Afghanistan to his comrade’s hometown, the kinds of wounds he carries with him have little to do with the shrapnel damage to his arm. Burdened with the guilt of failing to save his friend Spence, Nick is nonetheless determined to find a home for the dog that had been Spence’s constant companion.
Callie Redding, Spence’s childhood best friend, was shocked to learn he left her his old Victorian home. She’s even more surprised when one of his war buddies shows up with a dog at his side—and a heavy weight on his shoulders. As a tribute to their friend’s life, Nick agrees to help Callie turn her inheritance into a welcoming bed-and-breakfast for the town of Snowberry Creek.
But as they work through their grief together, they also share something far more precious—the belief that love is worth fighting for.
Sargent Nick Jenkins is having a hard time getting past the one decision that changed his life and took the life of one of his best friends. While on patrol in Afghanistan, Nick, Spence and Leif were cut off from the rest of his caravan. An explosion sent their vehicle flying. When Nick awoke, Spence was unconscious and Leif’s leg was mangled. Nick had to get his friends out of there, but he couldn’t carry both out of danger. He would have to come back for one of them. Since Leif was bleeding badly, Nick would come back for Spence, except another explosion killed Spence before Nick could return.
Nick is overwhelmed with the grief of losing his friend and the guilt of not being able to save him. The one thing Nick has been able to do for his friend, was to bring home the dog, Mooch, who had saved their lives, back to the United States. Spence had talked of taking Mooch, returning to his home town of Snowberry Creek and convincing his childhood friend, Callie, that he wanted a more romantic relationship with her.
Nick wants Callie to adopt Mooch since Nick doesn’t know what he wants to do anymore. Yet, the quiet town of Snowberry Creek quickly grows on Nick, as well as the lovely Callie. Since Spence had spoken often of Callie, and shared her care packages and Skype conversation with is best friends, Nick felt as if he already knew her. So Nick is finding more and more reasons to stay with Callie in Snowberry Creek and help her turn Spence’s old house into a bed and breakfast.
As Nick falls more and more in love with Callie, he becomes overwhelmed with the guilt that not only was it his fault that his friend lost his life, but now Nick is taking over the life that Spence wanted when he returned from the war.
Can Nick get past his guilt and build a life with Callie or will the ghost of their lost friend always be between them?
I really wanted to enjoy this story. I started out really liking these characters, but Nick’s constant wavering got very annoying. He liked Callie, and I got the impression that Spence’s stories of Callie and his feelings for her, had already had Nick half in love with her before he even got to Snowberry Creek, but I think that is more my filling in some blanks since they got very close, very quickly.
When Nick kissed Callie, pretty soon after meeting her, she didn’t object at all. It was Nick who was overwhelmed with the guilt. Time and again they would have a moment, and then Nick would withdraw again over guilt that he was taking Spence’s girl, his dog, his life, etc., etc.
Nick even calls Leif to come be a buffer between him and Callie because he couldn’t help wanting to be with her. Then Leif joined in with the “What are you doing with Spence’s girl” and “That’s not right.” I found it very annoying that, without speaking with Callie to find out her feelings, Leif and Nick had decided that Callie couldn’t be with anyone else because their friend Spence had wanted to be with her.
From how they all spoke of Spence, it would seem that he was the type of guy that would be happy that his best friends would find love together.
I had read an Alexis Morgan short story which I enjoyed and I have had her on my list of authors to read. I was happy to have an excuse to read her newest book, but was disappointed in the story. As I started the story, I was thinking the Nick and Callie were nice characters, but as I continued to read, I realized these characters were rather bland.
There was also someone breaking into the house and stealing objects from Spence’s house. Other than rousing Nick’s need to protect Callie and trigger some Afghanistan flashbacks, the characters involved in the break ins didn’t really add anything to the story.
I did like Callie’s friend Bridey, who ran the bakery. She could be an interesting future story, as well as the single-father, Chief of Police.
Received an ARC from netgalley.com courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.
It didn’t take long before he could see the end of the path where it opened out into Callie’s yard. He intended to call Mooch to heel and march right back to where they belonged. But as he drew closer, he knew that wasn’t going to happen. Mooch hadn’t been patrolling; he’d been hunting for his new best pal. What’s more, he’d found her.
Callie’s voice carried across the yard. “Yeah, Mooch, I missed you, too, but I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to be over here.”
Time to join the discussion. “That’s right. He’s not.”
Nick made his way over to where Callie stood on her back porch. Mooch was too busy worshipping at her feet to even acknowledge Nick’s presence.
“Dog, get down here. You shouldn’t be bothering Callie.” Not that Nick blamed the mutt for preferring her company to his.
Nick tried again, this time injecting the same authority into his voice that he’d used on raw recruits who weren’t performing up to expectations. “Now, Mooch, or the next time I let you out it will be on your leash.”
The dog hated the L-word and finally realized he was in big-trouble. He came slinking down the steps to crouch at Nick’s feet. It was hard not to laugh, but the dog had to learn how things were done in his new world.
“Sorry that he dragged you out of the house, Callie.”
She walked down the steps. “It’s okay, Nick. I was headed out here anyway. I like to sit out here in the dark on my mom’s swing by the koi pond and enjoy the night air.”
Tilting her had to the side, she wrinkled her nose as she studied Nick. “Want to join me or would that only send Mooch the wrong message?”
Yeah it probably would, but right now Nick didn’t care. Hell, he and the dog both ought to do Callie a favor and leave, but right now Nick just didn’t have it in him to refuse her invitation. All he had waiting for him back at Spence’s place was a six-pack of beer, a book he wasn’t all that interest in, and a big lonely bed.
He slammed the door shut on that line of thought. It was time to go.
But when he opened his mouth to say goodnight, that wasn’t what came out. “If you’re not tired of my…I mean our company.”
“Not at all.”
Then, to his surprise, Callie took his hand and tugged him along behind her. She led the way to the old-fashioned yard swing near the small pond with a burbling fountain int he middle. Mooch, evidently deciding he’d been forgiven, was already exploring the far end of the yard and slowly making his way back toward his two human companions.
The swing proved to be long enough for Nick and Callie to sit down with plenty of room between them. He dutifully settled on the far end of the seat, but somehow Callie ended up sitting right next to him, thigh to thigh, with her hand still tangled up with his.
Holy crap, Spence would have kicked Nick’s ass from one end of Afghanistan to the other for even thinking about touching Callie. Even though Leif was still on crutches, no doubt he would be only too glad to stand in for their fallen comrade. But since neither of them was there to provide a buffer between him and Callie, Nick was on his own.
And right now, under the moonlight with a warm woman sitting by his side, this was simply the best moment he’d enjoyed in far longer than Nick could remember. Come morning, he promised to hate himself for taking advantage of Callie’s good nature, but right now he was going to stay right where he was.
“Nick, you’re thinking way too hard.”
Angling his head to look down into Callie’s pretty face, he meant to tell her that he shouldn’t be there. Or maybe to thank her for making him feel so welcome. Yeah, that would be good. But instead, he did the one thing he shouldn’t have.
He kissed her.