Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Already Home by Susan Mallery

I had never read one of Susan Mallery's books, but after reading Already Home, I won't hesitate to pick up another. I don't know how many times I've mentioned that I read for character. Mallery's characters sparkle. That's the best word I can use for characters that attract attention the first time you meet them. Mallery gives depth and life to all of her characters, not just Jenna Stevens, the protagonist. Jenna's family members and friends are just as well-developed. I will admit, the two villains of this piece are one-dimensional, but the other characters shine.

At thirty-two, Jenna Stevens moved home to Georgetown, Texas after her marriage failed. Once a successful, creative chef, her marriage to a chef had eroded her confidence and destroyed her self-esteem. In a rash moment, she signed the lease on an empty building, planning to open a kitchen shop. She was just lucky and smart enough to hire Violet Green to work with her. At least Violet had retail experience, something Jenna woefully lacked. Together, they would ultimately be unstoppable. "Jenna had class and money and something to prove, while Violet knew how to make it, no matter the odds."

Actually, the odds were stacked against both of them. Jenna's confidence was so low, she was afraid to cook or experiment, the one thing that could attract people to her shop, Grate Expectations. She knew nothing about operating a store. She did have supportive parents, Marshall and Beth Stevens. Violet, on the other hand, had known little kindness in life. She was the daughter of the town whore, a woman who sold her daughter at the age of fourteen, and regularly abused her. Violet escaped, only to support herself on the streets until she could get a GED and move on. But, she was still haunted by her past. And, neither woman had faith in their abilities to pick good men, based on their past experiences.

So, picture a small kitchen shop where the two women are just starting to get the hang of working together, two insecure women. There's a great conversation when Violet suggests that Jenna has everything, a perfect life. It's a matter of perspective.  Jenna's response? "Excuse me? I'm getting a divorce, my husband cheated on me, I've just turned thirty-two, I have no kids, I own nothing, and if not for you, my business would have failed." It's a moment that brings the two of them closer when Violet admits, "When you put it like that."

Want one more thing to disrupt life? One day, Jenna's birth parents, aging hippies named Serenity and Tom, walk into the store, hoping to get to know the daughter they gave up at birth. It's a meeting that will change everyone's lives, Jenna, Beth and Marshall, even Violet's. And, so much changes in a novel filled with laughter, tears, and love.

I loved the characters in Susan Mallery's Already Home. I cheered for success for Jenna and Violet. I enjoyed Jenna's mother, Beth, and her relationship with her husband. And, I admired the two men who appeared to be part of long-term relationships for Jenna and Violet.  If the only weakness in this book were two male characters, that's fine. The two villains were eventually pushed out of the the women's lives. I couldn't resist Susan Mallery's Already Home, with its sparkle and joy, despite the past. Read this one when you want to see good women triumph.

Susan Mallery's website is http://www.susanmallery.com/

Already Home by Susan Mallery. MIRA. ©2011. ISBN 9780778329510 (paperback), 336p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - The publicist sent me an ARC, hoping I would review it.

12 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Dreamy cover! The characters sound like the real draw in "Already Home," (and I'm always a sucker for good triumphing over evil :) ). I'll put this one on my TBR list.

Kay said...

Moves home to Georgetown, Texas huh? Have to read this one as Georgetown will be our new address, though in the country. Is the shop in downtown Georgetown? Lots of little specialty shops are actually there. I'll have to look, but I suspect this author must be from my area. Why haven't I read her? LOL

Lesa said...

Elizabeth,

The characters are wonderful in this book. I was completely sucked into this story by the second or third page.

Lesa said...

Kay,

The shop is in downtown Georgetown in an area of specialty shops. Oh, you'll enjoy this one, then, if that's where you're moving. It's a fun book.

bermudaonion said...

I love endearing characters, so I have a feeling I'd love this book!

Lesa said...

I loved it, Kathy. I hope you do, too.

Beth Hoffman said...

Ah...you sold me. I love great characterization. Thanks for the recommendation, Lesa!

Bev Stephans said...

Hi Lesa,

I already read this one and I too loved it. I have read several series novels of Susan Mallery's and really liked them. You're right, her characters are great.

As an aside, I had one little nitpick with the author on "Already Home" and I emailed her. She very graciously answered my question. I still disagreed with her, but also saw her side of it. I can't tell you what it is as it could qualify as a 'spoiler'.

Do try some of her other books. I think that you will like them.

Bev Stephans

Lesa said...

Let me know what you think when you read it, Beth. I'll be curious to see if you like it as much as I did.

Lesa said...

Well, darn, Bev. Now, you have me really curious as to what your issue was. I'm glad Susan Mallery took the time to explain her reasoning, though.

I'm sure I'll be reading some of her other books.

Kris said...

The cover had my attention..so I knew I had to read your review fully and now I'm adding this one to the wish list. A pretty cover, and interesting story, what's not to love?

Lesa said...

And, terrific characters, too, Kris. I hope you like it!