A HOMETOWN BOY– Janice Kay Johnson
Harlequin Superromance #1825
ISBN: 978-0-373-71825-2
ASIN: B009NEIQKU (eBook)
January 2013
Contemporary Romance

Tucannon, Washington – Present Day

Joyce Owen told her son, Robbie, to leave the house, and she has been hiding in her home ever since, ashamed and not wanting to see him or any of her friends and neighbors.  Her husband is dead, and fear ruled her days, fear of what her mentally ill son would do.  That morning she was horrified to find the gun safe emptied of all her husband's hunting rifles, and when she heard the shots, she knew something terrible had happened.  She soon discovered Robbie had killed several people and injured others.  He then killed himself.

David, Robbie's younger brother, is a prosecuting attorney living in Seattle; he arrives home to help his mother.  They have a difficult relationship.  David was surprised to hear that although Joyce had tried to have Robbie committed, it was thought he was not dangerous, but Joyce had been living with fear for a long time.  David is saddened to see the names of the people who were killed—people that he had known growing up in the small town.  Now many of them have turned against his mother who is innocent of the horror.  

Acadia, a former resident of Tucannon now living in California, gets a phone call to tell her that her father has been shot.  She is shocked and dismayed, and immediately makes plans to return to Tucannon.  She had a huge crush on David when she was a teenager, but when her parents divorced, she moved with her mother.  Now she works as a trauma nurse at a local hospital.  She is one of the few people who do not blame Joyce and David.

A HOMETOWN BOY is a tragic story for members of the Owen family and all the people Robbie murdered.  Joyce loved her son dearly but could not help him, and, of course, he was incapable of helping himself.  He refused his meds and went from bad to worse.  How often have we seen these tragedies played out in the news?  Why couldn't the young man get help when he needed it so desperately?  Help only arrives after the unthinkable happens.  The family that is left behind feels guilty and helpless, and many of the townspeople are angry.  One good thing that David finds is his growing relationship with Acadia, the girl next door.

Beautifully written and a fascinating tale, HOMETOWN BOY tells the story of mental illness and how it has affected people in the town.  David begins to grow into a better relationship with his traumatized mother to better understand the strain she was under, and finally comes to admire her tenacity.  She, in turn, begins to see how she failed her younger son by focusing on the son who seemed to need her attention the most.  But, of course, A HOMETOWN BOY is a romance, a love story that started when David and Acadia were teens and now develops into something more.  The story has been written with sensitivity and understanding, a mesmerizing tale.

Marilyn Heyman