Title: Long Way Home
Author: Nicola Marsh
Published: September 24th 2019
Publisher: Mira – AU
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
From USA Today bestselling Australian author Nicola Marsh comes a warm and winsome rural romance about second chances and belonging.
A prodigal daughter returns to Brockenridge…
Eleven years ago Ruby Aston left Brockenridge – and its small-town gossip – for the anonymity of the big city. Now, a grieving Ruby is forced to come home to the place she loathes. But it also means returning to someone she’s always regretted leaving behind…
Connor Delaney is determined to prove himself and not get by on his family name alone. To do this he needs to acquire the local roadhouse. He never anticipated the owner would be the same ‘bad girl’ who ditched him at the high school ball and was never heard from again.
For Alisha Nathieson, the grief of suddenly losing her dear friend and employer Clara Aston has forced her to examine her choice to stay and support her ageing parents. As she battles a growing need to explore her past, temptation wars with duty. And then there are her feelings for handsome chef Harry, who has secrets of his own…
In following their hearts, will this unlikely trio lose what they’ve craved all along?
Long Way Home is the first mainstream rural romance title from Nicola Marsh, a USA Today Bestselling Author. Nicola Marsh certainly makes her mark on the small town Australian contemporary romance scene with her tender hearted novel, which is the first book in the Brockenridge series. Long Way Home is a heartbreaker, but it is also filled with moments of hope and semblance. It is book that will keep you engaged from cover to cover.
Ruby Aston is Nicola Marsh’s appealing heroine. Over a decade ago, Ruby left her home town of Brockenridge in disgrace. The heated opinions of members of this small community drove Ruby away, following a terrible misunderstanding. After forging a new life for herself in the big smoke, Ruby is forced to return home to Brockenridge, following the loss of her mother. This is incredibly hard for Ruby, not only must she confront her grief over the loss of her mother, she must also face up to the truth of her heartbreaking past. A chance to reconnect with a man she loved a decade ago presents itself, but there are plenty of roadblocks for this couple to deal with. For Connor Delaney Ruby’s return to Brockenridge brings both pain and hope. He is torn between his business interests and the girl her once loved. It is a question of love, loyalty, sacrifice and atonement for this couple, along with a number of other key figures in Brockenridge, who have all been impacted by the return of Ruby.
At this late stage of the reading year it is great to discover a new Australian voice in the field of rural romance, one of my favourite reading staples. Nicola Marsh is an author I have not been acquainted with before. I hope to rectify this and I aim to explore more of Marsh’s backlist, especially her domestic suspense novels. A quick view of Nicola Marsh’s website indicated that this popular author enjoys writing ‘feel-good with a twist’. I find this tagline very enticing and based on my reading experience of Long Way Home, I have to agree that this new title from Nicola Marsh is indeed feel good fiction – with a slant!
It was instant love between Ruby Aston, the lead of this story, and myself. I felt a swift connection to this protagonist. I immediately developed a sense of trust, care and sympathy for the heroine of the story. Marsh’s characterisation is rock solid and I feel I developed a good understanding of the key characteristics of Ruby, as well as the supporting cast. Ruby’s story is definitely an emotional one that ignited a few tears, some feet stamping, fist pumps and warm hearted smiles. Ruby’s journey is quite tumultuous, it is defined by moments of grief, loss, misunderstanding, ire, connection, friendship, support, love and loyalty. I really enjoyed the time I spent getting to know Ruby Aston.
The hero of this tale, Connor Delaney, is a genuine and authentically rendered protagonist. I felt Connor’s inner turmoil, his heated moments, the pressure of his decision making and his concerns. Connor is well matched to Ruby, and I feel Marsh explored the concept of a high school romance reignited years later very well. The romance side of things is cultivated to perfection by Marsh, she knows how to spin a good love story. The dialogue presented in Long Way Home is engaging and truthful. It was good to be involved in spot of romantic banter between this couple too.
Connected to Ruby’s story is Alisha Nathieson’s journey, a close friend of Ruby’s late mother Clara. The death of Clara Aston hits Alisha pretty hard, but it also helps Alisha to explore her family roots and look further into connecting with her birth mother. Alisha is such a colourful character, who adds vibrancy to the pages of this novel. Alisha’s emotional pathway is tender, moving and engaging. Alisha’s story will unite readers all over, as her journey is very connective.
Good rural romance novels are able to delve into the small town politics, issues, problems and attitudes of those living in these tight knit quarters. Long Way Home sees the country based township of Brockenridge take centre stage. We bear witness to acts of complete and utter misjudgement, which got under my skin, but it still kept me glued to the story. Meanwhile, there are moments of brilliant community based assistance and support which restored my faith in this community. Marsh has left the close of the novel very clear for another issue of the series. I have a few characters in mind from Long Way Home that deserve some air time!
Long Way Home is sincere and heartfelt novel, with just the right dash of sentiment to reel you in. Rural romance fans will well and truly lap up Long Way Home. Nicola Marsh has definitely gained a new fan!
Long Way Home by Nicola Marsh was published on 24th September 2019 by Mira – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Long Way Home, Nicola Marsh, visit here.
*I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Long Way Home is book #135 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge