HOME FIRES - Lois Greiman
A Hope Springs Novel , Book 2
Kensington Books
ISBN: 978-0-7582-8122-7
June 2013
Contemporary Fiction

Hope Springs, South Dakota - Present Day

After her father's death, Cassandra (Casie) Carmichael returned to the family ranch, the Lazy Windmill, with the intention of selling it.  Three teenagers changed her mind, though.  Emily Kane is eighteen years old, eight months pregnant, and an entrepreneur.  Sophie Jaeger is the daughter of a wealthy realtor, who's always gotten everything a girl could want—except a parent who truly cares about her.  Ty Roberts sought refuge from his abusive mother at the Lazy, and while he still works there, he's currently living on the neighboring ranch owned by the Dickenson family.  Casie and her ragtag bunch of teenagers are barely keeping the ranch going, with other neighbors often pitching in to lend a hand when needed.  One of Emily's ideas brings about a symposium of sorts at the Lazy, and it's then that Casie runs into her childhood nemesis again: Colt Dickenson.

Six months ago Casie, who was still feeling abandoned thanks to the break-up with her fiancé, told Colt she didn't want or need his help, so he went back to the rodeo circuit.  Now that he's back Casie realizes he's more unsettling than ever, as she is drawn to him, yet not willing to take a chance on relying on another person for her happiness.  Colt says that he's giving up rodeo to stick around, but Casie has a hard time believing his choice has anything to do with her.  As she and her “kids” struggle through sick horses, money troubles, and even possible pending legal battles, Casie comes to understand that, unconventional though it may be, she has a family.

HOME FIRES is an interesting book that brings together a diverse group of people and makes them a family.  After being abandoned by her drug-addicted mother, Emily bounced around foster care for a while, before eventually ending up at the Lazy, pregnant.  Ty grew up in an abusive home and believes himself to be weak.  Sophie grew up privileged, but without the attention of either parent, and she's contentious, and bossy.  Each of these teens has found a home with Casie, but they are still struggling with their own troubles.  For being the heroine, we don't learn as much about Casie's past, beyond that she grew up on the ranch and came back after her father's death, as well the sense that she was dumped by her fiancé and the fact that Colt has teased her most of their lives.  For his part, Colt's feelings for Casie have always been stronger than he let on, but now he's not sure of his footing with her.

Mostly a character-driven novel, one character, Angel, a twenty-year-old horse that was pretty much at death's door before coming to the Lazy, is another central character.  Ty has bonded with the horse, and when Angel becomes sick, he faces a tough decision, and this also gives the characters, as well as readers, a chance to see everyone in a different light.  For a captivating novel, look for HOME FIRES.

Jennifer Bishop