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Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Long Road Home - Mary Alice Monroe



Released November 2010

www.MIRABooks.com

Originally published in 1995 by HarperCollins, Mary Alice Monroe's The Long Road Home is back. I have to admit, I was eager to read this romance. It's set in Vermont and I often find that authors who don't live or spend plenty of time here rely on untrue stereotypes that end up painting an inaccurate picture of the residents and towns. Given that, I was ready to see what Mary Alice Monroe had to say.

Relatively speaking, Monroe does a great job. Some aspects such as Vermonter's not being a "chatty group" are not necessarily true of all areas. The hick accent (yeh-up) is another thing that is not very common that tends to be heard mainly in Northeast Kingdom regions and only with the older Vermonters, particularly those who grew up on farms. I know many of today's farmers and they have no discernable accents and are generally grammatically correct in speech and writing.

Like many states and counties, different regions present a different way of life and types of people. The area this book seems to be set in the mountains a short distance from Rutland. Rutland has a reputation for drug and gang crime so people are a little more suspicious of new faces from my understanding. Given that, I think the author does capture their wariness pretty well.

On a dismal, rainy day, Michael MacKenzie walks into banker Charles Walker Blair's office in Blair Bank, announces Charles ruined his life, puts a gun to his head and kills himself. Charles has never figured out why Michael blamed him or what his bank had supposedly done.

Nora MacKenzie remembers her husband's last words to her--"Don't trust anyone." For the past year, the estate has been tied up in an investigation to unravel his complicated business dealings. The estate is supposed to be settled, but at the lawyer's office, Nora learns they need more time but the end result won't change. Nora is bankrupt. Her only hope at paying off creditors is to auction everything she owns. She negotiates possession of a sheep farm in Vermont despite the lawyer's persistence that the farm is unfinished and worthless. Packing up anything the lawyers will allow, including a mysterious notebook she finds hidden, Nora heads off to Vermont.

In Vermont, Nora learns there's a man living on the farm. She doesn't know anything about the mysterious C.W. (Charles Walker) other than she's told by neighbors that he's reliable. C.W. can't understand why Michael MacKenzie's widow has shown up. When she asks him to help her unravel her financial situation, he agrees. The thing is she has no idea that he was there when her husband died and he wants to keep that a secret.

The Long Road Home covers the relationship that develops between Nora and C.W. as the mystery regarding Michael's missing wealth is unraveled. It's a strong romance with a dash of mystery that many readers will enjoy. I know I laughed and shed a tear making this a highly-recommended romance. This is Mary Alice Monroe's debut novel, so fans of her current work will enjoy the glimpse into her earliest writing.

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