Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Welcome Back

If you enjoyed Lin Stepp's novel Saving Laurel Springs (that I blogged about last August), you'll likely enjoy her latest romance novel in the Smoky Mountain series, Welcome Back. Both are about women who are returning to a situation they left, both are rich in family values and a strong sense of place, and both leave you feeling good.


In Welcome Back, 48-year-old Lydia Cunningham returns to the family orchard in Maggie, North Carolina, after living and working for the past decade in Atlanta. She'd left her family because she could no longer tolerate living in the same house as her overbearing and abusive mother-in-law. Lydia's husband John—who had promised his dying father he'd look after his mother—seemingly did nothing to stop the verbal abuse of Lydia and their four children. Lydia found a job she loved working at a college in Atlanta, and soon she was joined by her three teenage sons. Her daughter, whose grandmother turned against Lydia, stayed behind with her father. For ten years, sons had no contact with their family and daughter was estranged from her mother. The two sides did not see each other during that decade, although John sent child support payments to Lydia, and Lydia wrote to her daughter Mary Beth, who often didn't get the letters. But now Lydia's abusive mother-in-law has died, and the family land might be in financial trouble. . . .

So—there's conflict and estrangement within a family. A lot of wounds to be healed. All this makes for considerable family tension and leads to some interesting plot developments.  I'm not going to give those away, but I will reveal that there's a "ghost" and a couple of calico kittens. Welcome Back is an enjoyable and suspense-filled read.

Chloe like the calico kittens part.

One of the things I like best about Welcome Back is its sense of place. The family orchard and homeplace are important to many of the characters, but the surrounding Great Smoky Mountains play an important part in the story.

The theme of the book is probably best captured in this line (p. 121 of the Advance Reader Copy that I received): "You have to face your ghosts, your fears, and banish them." A good message for all of us.

Arlo contemplates the book.

Welcome Back will be released by Kensington in a few weeks, but you can pre-order it now from Amazon.

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