Already Homeby Susan Mallery
#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has captivated millions of readers with her heartwarming stories of the ties that bind. Now she introduces Jenna Stevens, who’s about to discover that sometimes the only way to move forward is to go back home again.…
After nearly a decade as a sous chef in a trendy eatery, Jenna is/b>/i>
#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has captivated millions of readers with her heartwarming stories of the ties that bind. Now she introduces Jenna Stevens, who’s about to discover that sometimes the only way to move forward is to go back home again.…
After nearly a decade as a sous chef in a trendy eatery, Jenna is desperate for a change. She’s supported her ex-husband’s dreams for so long that she can’t even remember her own. Until she sees a for-lease sign near her parents’ home and envisions her very own cooking store.
Her crash course in business is aided by a street-wise store manager and Jenna’s adoptive mother. But just as she’s gaining a foothold in her new life, in walk her birth parents—aging hippies on a quest to reconnect with their firstborn.
Now Jenna must figure out how to reconcile the free-spirited Serenity and Tom with her traditional parents, deal with her feelings for a new love interest and decide what to do about her ex’s latest outrageous request. In the end, Jenna will find that there is no perfect family, only the people we love.…
-Booklist on Already Home
"Mallery's prose is luscious and provocative."
"Susan Mallery's gift for writing humor and tenderness make all her books true gems."
-RT Book Reviews
"Romance novels don't get much better than Mallery's expert blend of emotional nuance, humor and superb storytelling."
"Mallery sets up some very tough choices for her heroine, making this book compelling and intense."
-RT Book Reviews on Finding Perfect
"Warm, funny, and sexy, this lighthearted yet touching page-turner is a satisfying, rewarding read and the 'perfect' beginning for Mallery's Fool's Gold series."
-Library Journal on Chasing Perfect
"As demonstrated in this compelling story, family doesn't have to share blood, just emotions. Filled with emotional drama, devastating treachery and the power of love, this finale will delight fans."
- RT Book Reviews on Hot on Her Heels
"One of the Top 10 Romance Novels of 2009!"
-Booklist on Straight from the Hip
"[A]n emotional story with a beautiful happy ending! Another must-read by Susan Mallery."
-Good Choice Reading on Almost Perfect
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Read an Excerpt
"What do you think?" Jenna Stevens asked, doing her best to sound confident. When faced with something scary, like a big dog or a really bad decision, it was important not to show fear.
"I love it," her mother said. "Truly, it's amazing." Beth squeezed her daughter's shoulders. "I'm so proud of you, honey."
Proud? Proud was good. Proud implied an accomplishment. The only problem was Jenna couldn't claim one. She'd acted on impulse.
As a rule, she could respect a good impulse purchase. There were times when life sucked and a woman needed to buy a pair of shoes or a skirt or even a lipstick she didn't need just to prove she could. To show the world she wasn't defeated.
Only Jenna hadn't bought any of those things, mostly because she wasn't much of a shopper. But she'd sure stepped out of her comfort zone recently. Had she done it with a too-expensive handbag? If only. Instead she'd impulsively signed a three-year lease on retail space in a town where she hadn't lived in nearly ten years. As if she knew anything about retail. Oh, sure, she shopped on occasion, but that wasn't exactly the same as running a business. Just like being a chef didn't mean she knew squat about running a kitchen store.
"Breathe," her mother told her. "You have to breathe."
Apparently she'd shattered the illusion of courage by hyperventilating.
"Maybe not," Jenna murmured. "If I stop breathing and go into intensive care, the management company might let me out of my lease. There has to be a clause about a near-death experience, don't you think?"
Jenna turned from staring at the front of her new business and pressed her head into her mother's shoulder. Something of a trick considering Beth was a good six inches shorter and Jenna was wearing heels.
"I didn't read the lease," she admitted, her voice slightly muffled.
She braced herself for the chiding. She'd been raised to read everything before signing it. Even a greeting card. She deserved to be yelled at.
Her mother sighed and patted her back. "We won't tell your father."
Jenna straightened. They stood in the parking lot in front of the space she'd rented. Right now it was just an empty storefront, but in a few short weeks, it would be her new business.
"Fifty percent of all new businesses fail," Jenna whispered.
Her mother laughed. "That's my little ray of sunshine. Come on. I'll buy you a latte. We'll sit, we'll talk, we'll plan ways to have your soon-to-be ex-husband tortured. I'm sure your father knows a guy."
Despite the fear and the panic swirling in her stomach, the sense of impending doom and a life that bordered on pathetic, Jenna smiled. "Mom, Dad's a banker. Men who run banks don't know guys."
"Your father is very resourceful."
He was also a physically fit, active man who enjoyed plenty of outdoor activities. If Marshall Stevens wanted something physical to happen to Jenna's ex, he would do it himself.
"I'm just so angry at Aaron," Beth said, leading the way to her SUV. "That cheating, lying you-know-what."
The "you-know-what" was, of course, a stand-in for bastard. Or possibly sonofabitch. Either way, Beth didn't believe in swearing.
She was a traditional kind of woman. She put on makeup before leaving the house, always brought a casserole in a covered dish when there was a death in someone's family and never, ever had a cocktail before five. All things Jenna loved about her.
She knew people who thought traditions were stupid and a waste of time, but for Jenna, they were the warm, comforting glue that held her family together. She could count on her parents to be what they'd always been. Today, that was more important than ever.
They got into her mother's SUV, a late-model gas guzzler, and drove toward the closest Starbucks.
"I'll never forgive him," Beth announced. "I suppose I could accept it if he decided that your relationship wasn't working. Not every marriage lasts. It's the cheating that makes him a weasel. I swear, if my daddy was still alive, he would go after Aaron with a shotgun and I wouldn't stop him."
Some days Jenna wouldn't have stopped him, either. But her anger at her ex wasn't about the other women, although the thought of them didn't make her happy. What made her lie awake at night, questioning herself and every decision she'd ever made, was the other ways Aaron had hurt her.
The cheating simply gave her an easy excuse to say why the marriage had failed.
They pulled into the Starbucks parking lot. Her mother turned to her. "You get anything you want. Venti, syrup, whipped cream." Beth wrinkled her nose. "I won't even mention how resentful I am that you're as skinny as a string bean and I'm stuck with thighs that hate me. That's how much I love you."
Jenna laughed, then leaned across the console and hugged her mother. "I love you, too, Mom. Thank you."
"I haven't bought the coffee yet."
The thank-you wasn't about the drink, but then her mother already knew that.
"I'm glad you're home," Beth told her as she climbed out of the SUV. "This is where you belong. Real people live in Texas, not in Los Angeles. All those Hollywood types." She sniffed. "Is there anyone normal in the city?"
"A few, but they never go out at night." Jenna linked arms with her. "I'm glad I'm home, too."
Jenna couldn't quite escape the feeling that going back to look at her store was like returning to the scene of the crime. But it had to be done, and someone, probably her, needed to get her business started.
Despite having spent the past couple of weeks getting things ready for the grand opening, every time she pulled into the parking lot and stared at the space she'd rented, she couldn't bring herself to believe it.
Three months ago she'd been in Los Angeles. Her husband had walked into their tiny bathroom while she'd been brushing her teeth and had announced he was leaving her for another woman. He was in love and he was leaving.
What Jenna remembered most was standing in that cramped space wondering when she was supposed to spit. At what point in that kind of confession was it polite or expected for her to lean over the sink, spit and rinse?
She'd been unable to speak with all that toothpaste in her mouth, so she'd stood there like an idiot. Eventually Aaron had walked out, leaving her stunned, emotionally shattered and with toothpaste dribbling down her chin.
Later they'd talked. Or he'd talked, explaining all the reasons the breakup was her fault. She realized now that that was Aaron's thing. Taking whatever was good and strong in a person and systematically destroying it. On the outside, he was pure charm, all dark good looks and an easy smile. On the inside, he was the devil. Or at the very least, an evil minion.
She supposed she could have fought for her marriage, but a part of her had been relieved to have a reason to leave. So she'd packed up everything she owned and had returned to Georgetown, Texas.
She'd been lost, so going home had made sense. As much as anything could, under the circumstances.
She was grateful her parents had never asked why she didn't try to get a job in a restaurant. She'd been a professional chef for nearly a decade. It was what she knew. Or it had been. Today, cooking anything seemed impossible.
Oh, sure, she could throw together something easy. A bisque, a dozen or so pasta dishes, a savory tart, prime rib. The basics. But to creatively cook? To take new flavors and blend them into something so good it was almost magic? That had been lost.
It was as if her culinary soul had been stolen. As much as she wanted to blame Aaronand a case could be made that he was guilty of theftshe'd been the one not standing guard, not protecting what mattered most of all. She'd been the one to let him berate her, mock her and claim her best ideas as his own. She'd let herself begin to doubt her abilities, her imaginative self, and now she was just someone who had once known how to cook.
The killer was, no one knew. Not that she wanted to talk about it or have people feel sorry for hershe didn't. On the outside, she was as good as she'd ever been. It wasn't as if she'd lost her actual skills. But the thing she'd loved bestthe spark of creatingwas gone. And she didn't know how to get it back, much less articulate the problem to anyone else.
She tried to tell herself that opening a cooking store was a grand adventure. It was her new destiny. She would pass on her skills to others, share the wealth, so to speak. And if she didn't want to use that as inspiration, she had three years of lease payments to worry about. If she couldn't perk her mood with self-help, then she would get real with fear. Whatever worked.
At least the location was great, she thought, staring at the big windows and glass front door. Old Town was a thriving part of Georgetown, and her store was in the middle of it. To the right of her space was a yarn store called Only Ewe. To the left was an insurance agency and, beyond that, a beauty salon.
Old Town itselfa series of square blockswas a combination of business and retail with some residential areas. There were restaurants, boutiques and a couple of banks. Foot traffic was high, and Jenna was hoping that impulse buying was also a part of everyday life.
As she got out of her car and studied her store, she told herself she could do this. She could be successful with her new business. She'd never been a big believer in "fake it until you make it," but maybe now was the time to explore a new philosophy. After all, like it or not, the store was opening. The sign would be delivered early next week. The final deliveries of her inventory would arrive two days after that. Then it was just a matter of getting everything in place and opening the doors.
She was waiting to see how well she did before spending money on advertising. Grate Expectations would sell high-quality kitchen supplies with expert instruction. She would demonstrate, offer cooking classes and give the people in town the chance to learn the secrets of professional chefs. There didn't seem to be any competition for this kind of business in the nearby communities.
As she pulled out her key to the store, she heard a car door slam. She turned and saw a dark-haired woman walking toward her.
"Hi," the woman called. "Jenna?"
"Yes. You must be Violet."
They'd spoken on the phone. Violet had been one of nearly a dozen calls she'd had about the job she'd posted in the paper. Of the potential applicants, Violet had had the most experience, not to mention the most normal personality.
Now Jenna took in the short, spiky hair, the dark eyeliner and thick lashes. Violet's beige lace T-shirt covered a deep purple tank top. Her skirt was layered and also purple. Dozens of necklaces hung down in various lengths, while an equal number of bracelets clinked on her left arm. High-heeled ankle boots completed the outfit.
She looked to be in her mid-to-late twenties. Humor and curiosity sparkled in her brown eyes and her smile was friendly.
"Great location," Violet said as Jenna wrestled with the door. "Very upscale. You'll get a lot of walk-in traffic. Especially if you're cooking. People will follow the smell."
They went inside. Jenna turned on the lights, then glanced around at the chaos.
She saw shelves against the walls and freestanding racks in the middle of the main room. A newly installed kitchen setup gleamed from one side. The desk for the cash register was in place. Boxes were stacked nearly five feet high. Unpacking was going to take days.
Daunting didn't begin to describe it, but Jenna didn't care. Hard work was exactly what she was looking for. If she was exhausted, she wouldn't have as much time to think. Besides, this was America. According to legend, all that stood between her and success was a little hard work. Fortunately, the ability to do what needed doing had always been one of her strongest attributes.
"Nice," Violet said, walking around. "The high ceilings are great. Some of the places around here have a second floor, so the ceilings are lower." She headed for the kitchen area, set down her purse and tugged on her sleeves. As she pulled up the lace, Jenna caught sight of a tattoo of flowers on the inside of her wrist.
Violet wasn't anything like Jenna had imagined. She'd pictured someone older. Someone more conservative. But Violet had energy and an engaging smile. The pixie cut gelled to a fashion-forward mess suited her, as did the Goth-inspired makeup. Violet looked both fun and approachable.
Ten years of working in restaurant kitchens had taught Jenna to trust her gut when it came to hiring. For all his telling her that she didn't know what she was talking about, Aaron had listened to her gut, too.
"You enjoy working with the public?" Jenna asked.
She knew that was going to be the most difficult area for her. She was used to being behind the scenes, not dealing with the front of the house. Ordering, organizing, working under pressurethose were easy. But smiling in the face of harried customers? Not so much.
"Most days," Violet said with a laugh. "I think the difference between a place like this and, say, a big-box store is branding. You go to a retail chain with certain expectations. Sometimes it's price or convenience. But making a special trip to your store requires a little more thought. Customers have to want to come here."
She ran her hands across the stainless steel counters by the stove.
"I think the key to success is to give customers an experience they can't get anywhere else. Not only different products, but personalized service. You have to make them want to come back." Violet smiled again, her eyes dancing with excitement. "I do love a good challenge."
"Good thingbecause we're going to have that here."
Violet faced her. "Maybe not. Whats the competition? I don't think there are any other places like this in the area, but I didn't do the research."
Jenna stared at her. Research? She did her best not to wince. Right. Because most people had a plan when they opened a store. They checked out the area, ran the numbers, worked on a profit and loss statement. Things Jenna would have done had she been opening a restaurant.
"We're going to offer something unique here," Jenna said. "Neighborhoods like that."
"You've owned retail stores before?" Violet asked.
"Not exactly. I'm a sous chef."
"Oh, wow. That's great." Violet moved to the open area in front of the sink and held her arms open wide. "We could set up cooking stations here. People love to get their hands dirty. With that big oven and the six burners, they can all be cooking and baking together. People would kill to get real tips from someone like you."
Jenna shook her head. "I wasn't going to have the customers cook. I'll be doing demonstrations. Showing techniques for different dishes."
Violet's arms dropped to her side. "That would be good, too," she said with measurably less enthusiasm. "Will you have prepared the dishes in advance so they get to sample what you're doing?"
"That's nice." She walked toward the boxes and read the labels. "So you've never exactly run a store before?"
Violet bit down on her lower lip. "Are you hiring a manager?"
"I'll be the manager. At least for now." Jenna squared her shoulders. It was time to get to the interview. "I'm looking for someone to work full-time with me. We'll be open six days a week. I'd prefer you take your second day off on Monday through Thursday. I'm guessing Friday and Saturday will be busiest. I'm going to offer different kinds of cooking classes. Classic recipes, easy to make, foods that can be frozen and served days or weeks later."
Stuff she could do in her sleep.
A part of her whispered it might be fun to experiment a little. To have customers surprise her with ingredients and then come up with something on the fly. She could
Meet the Author
Susan Mallery is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction novels with heart and humor. Her funny and sexy family stories have been named to Booklist's Top 10 Romance Novels lists of 2007, 2008, and 2009.
Mallery's gift for writing humor and tenderness make all her books true gems. -Romantic Times
Romance novels don’t get much better than Mallery's expert blend of emotional nuance, humor and superb storytelling. -Booklist
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I really enjoyed the book. I love all Susan's books. This is one is different from her other books. I couldn't put it down. I wanted to read more about Dragon and Violet's characters.
Susan Mallery has written a wonderful story about families, love and loss. Jenna is a chef who has lost her confidence in herself, in a large part to her soon to be ex-husband. He has thrown away their marriage, cheated on her, and bullied her into believing she is a lousy chef. She moves back to her Texas hometown and impulsively decides to open an exclusive cookery store- Grate Expectations. Fortunately for her, she hires Violet to be her first employee. Violet has had to make some tough choices to survive and she too has a low sense of self esteem. She has the retail skills that Jenna lacks and comes to the rescue when uber structured Jenna's first day goes awry. The two women work together, begin again, and make a success of the business. Jenna, who is adopted, is thrown for a loop when her birth parents make an appearance in her store with no advance warning. From that point on a large part of the story becomes one about the issues of adoption from all of the sides- the birth parents, the adoptive parents and the person in the center of it all. Ms. Mallery skillfully lets us into the feelings of all three parts of the triangle, good and bad. Just when you think things are going a little too sweetly, reality bites! Jenna and Violet have to deal with their issues about families, relationships and their own self worth. They move forward and then old patterns of behavior/fears hold them back. Jenna has too much family to deal with- two sets of parents and new siblings, while Violet has her issues with the lack of family in her life. There is joy and sadness in both of their lives but they work through it. I liked the strong friendship that developed between them and how they were able to open themselves up for new love in their life on many levels. I can always count on Susan Mallery for a good read and this book does not disappoint. Have your tissues ready- you will need them. There are some pretty yummy sounding recipes at the end of the book as an added bonus.
Seeing as I was adopted myself, I was particularly interested in this book, and I nearly fell off my bed when I saw that the egalley was offered at netgalley. Like the main character, Jenna, I too was thrown a curve ball when my biological family suddenly showed up out of nowhere. With a lot of personal experience on the subject, I can say that Mallery nails the turmoil of the situation. The warring emotions displayed in the writing are engaging, relatable, and impressively dead on. In this kind of situation there are so many emotions it's like a web of confusion. I was pleasantly surprised at how well Mallery expressed them through this story. Even though the biological parents are universe-talking, vegan people, there isn't some mystical bond between Jenna and them. At least not on Jenna's end. Jenna doesn't feel a bond, and quite frankly doesn't want one. I loved this aspect, because in truth it really doesn't work that way in the real world. By rule of thumb, most of these situations are not an Oprah show moment. Usually they are awkward and miserable. Fortunately for us readers, Mallery is a clever writer who takes Jenna's awkward misery and turns it into a a comedic triangle between her and both her mothers. Beyond Jenna, there is a wonderful secondary character, Violet. Thank goodness Mallery gave Violet a lot of page time! It saved me the time of having to petition for Violet to have her own book. Violet has a story all on her own. A well-written one that doesn't take over, but has it's own spotlight. In a different way Violet is looking for the same thing Jenna is. Jenna just doesn't realizes what she's looking for, where as Violet knows but doesn't think she deserves it. Then there are the parents, the biological parents, new brothers, and love interests for Jenna and Violet. It's a large cast of the normal, the damaged, and the weird. All of which make for a great tear jerker mixed with humor, a bit of danger, a pinch of heat, and a lesson in opening up to all the possibilities. P.S. There's a swoon worthy Dragon in the story. be on the look out!
Just finished Already Home and like all of SM's books, I loved it. She has a way of building characters that is both touching and unique. The interactions between characters is always moving and real. The emotions when adopted daughter is suddenly confronted with her birth parents is gripping. The relationships between husbands/wives, girlfriend/boyfriend can be right out of real life (sometimes sadly). If I had one fault to find with this book it would be that it ended too soon. Would loved to have it go a little beyond the backyard barbecue. Now I will anxiously await the arrival of the next Fool's Gold series. Love that small town and all of its residents. Write faster Ms. M.
For years, Jenna has lived the city life. She was married, worked in a restaurant by her husband's side, and was doing well. Or was she? Her marriage crumbled,leading into Jenna rethinking her life and her dreams. What did she really want? Was she really living our her dreams? What does one do when she realizes she needs something different? Well, go home, of course. On a whim, she starts her own business. But Jenna's going to need a lot of help to keep up with her new store. Enter Violet, a woman who dresses different and is unsure of things. Having a dark past that haunts her to this day, Violet is a loner, but has the experience and skills necessary to help Jenna run her store. After a hesitant start, the two become friends and rely on each other to keep afloat. Violet helps Jenna rethink her business strategy when it shows that Jenna has no idea how she wants to run her store. And when a love interest enters Violet's life, she turns to Jenna for advice on what to wear on her date. As Jenna's new life and business fall into place, who should come into her life unexpectedly? Her birth parents. What a complete surprise to Jenna and her adoptive parents. Beth, Jenna's adoptive mother stays supportive and encouraging to Jenna to get to know the strangers that gave her up all those years ago. Susan Mallery creates an emotional story that stretches the boundaries of relationships. She tests all relationships in this story - between mothers and daughters, friends, strangers, and significant others. Her well thought out characters are so believable and engaging that the reader can't help but smile, laugh and cry at the situations each one faces. The story is full of conflict and decisions, and questions. Jenna is torn between her feelings and how to react now that her birth mother swiftly enters her life, and how will that affect her relationship with Beth, the woman who has raised Jenna as her own and given her a wonderful life? How does Beth really feel, even though she's encouraging Jenna to get to know her parents? What brought them here now, instead of when Jenna was younger? I know when I pick up a book with Susan Mallery's name on it that I'm in for a heartwarming, emotional, pleasurable read. Already Home was no different. She weaves the the plot and subplot in so wonderfully and long after the last page is read, her stories and characters stay with me in my mind. Her books are a keeper and can be enjoyed after the first, second, and hundredth time reading. If you enjoy a contemporary story full of heart and love, then you'll feel like your right at home with this book. Originally posted at The Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
Got a print copy of this book from the author, in exchange for a review. This is more stream of consciousness than review, so not up to my usual standards. Sorry. Jenna is a complex character, a woman with a real flair for cooking and a serious inferiority complex in the kitchen, thanks to her ex-husband. She packs up her life post-divorce and moves back to her hometown, where she decides on a whim to open a kitchen/cooking store. Running said store is not all she thought it would be, and the trials and tribulations can be funny. She has a great relationship with her adoptive mom and dad, and has never had any interest in searching for or getting to know her birth parents. Guess who shows up right in the big middle of her remaking her life? I figured out what her birth mother's agenda was pretty quickly - it seemed logical to me, though I don't think it was telegraphed much - maybe not at all. I have to confess to not really liking her birth mother, even by the end of the book. Maybe because I had a mother like that, and it pushed too many buttons for me. The B story of her getting back into dating was not as satisfying for me for some reason. I didn't really connect with Elliot - he seemed too good to be true, and even at the end of the story, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and for him to turn out to be some jackhole. The other B story of her store manager Violet's relationship woes is actually pretty compelling, and I'd like to read more about her. She's got a convoluted backstory, and I look forward to learning more about that. I adore Jenna's dad's solution to her big problem. Jenna's birth brother Dragon is very interesting, and I definitely want to read more about him. He sounds like just my kind of not-quite-bad boy.
At first I wasn't sure how I felt about this book....it introduced some characters that I really didn't like. But it also introduced some characters that I couldn't wait until they appeared on the page again. I wish some of the characters had their own book.
Already Home is not what you would expect from Susan Mallery as it’s not your usual romance novel but have no fear she doesn’t disappoint! She comes through with characters that you’ll laugh and cry with. Jenna changes her life drastically after getting divorced and opens her own business and with the help of her adoptive parents and new friends like the street smart Violet Green, they strive to make a success. However, true to life, there are some bumps in the road along way including her birth parents coming to town. Jenna works to balance her parents, her demanding ex-husband, new friends, new family members, a new store and possibly a new love. From one reader to another I would recommend this to anyone who wants a healthy dose of real-life, strong women with their chick lit despite the lack of quintessential romance novel elements.
Can you fall in love with 4 or 5 people at the same time? Yes! If you’ve read Susan Mallery’s book “Already Home” I was hooked from page one and couldn’t put the book down until the end and then I wanted MORE. I still want MORE. I loved the way Jenna struggled to begin anew after her divorce and I felt for her. I laughed with her and cried with her and got annoyed with her at times. I loved her mom, Beth. Beth would say these quirky things and I would find a giggle escaping. I also fell in love with Violet and Serenity and of course I fell in love with Dragon! What truly touched me about this book was that it was about relationships, ie: Mothers and daughters and women friends who become family. The men were there but as supporting cast and you know what? I didn’t miss them. I enjoyed them but I’m glad they were in the background. I REALLY enjoyed the interactions between these women. This is a book that’s going on my favorite shelf that I will read again. I can’t wait for the next story from Georgetown, Texas.
I'm a BIG Susan Mallery fan so there was no doubt I would like "Already Home". What I hadn't expected was how different this book is from other Mallery books I've read. All the previous books I've read are centered on romantic relationships; "Already Home" is centered more on family relationships. I liked that Jenna was opening her own business. That interested me because I hope to do the same someday. The business ideas Susan writes about are things real life businesses should take into account. I wish I could find places like these to spend time. Jenna's birth parents brought humor to the story. I could so easily envision this couple and it was a hilarious sight. I wish there were a way to bring to life these men Susan writes about, Ellington is just about perfect!! His and Jenna's romance is realistic and what readers who don't like contemporary romance will enjoy is their romance isn't the center of the story. Susan has managed yet again, to not only create a story where I fell in love with the main characters, but one where the secondary character of Violet had me reaching for the tissues. Violet's backstory is heart wrenching but her character's strength is inspiring. The ending of the book was an emotion fest. Between Violet's confessions to a man who refuses to let her push him away and Jenna's unexpected family news, I had trouble reading through my blurry eyes. I give "Already Home" 5/5 stars. This heartwarming story of confidence, friendship, love, and the imperfect families we create and are born into is sure to touch your soul.
Review by Valerie: My first read by Susan Mallery. It is NOT a romance novel but does have elements of romance woven in. Rather, it's a book about relationships - family, friends, spousal, adoptive, and especially the inner self. When I first started reading, I expected the story to be about one character and her life's ups and downs. The story is so much more. Jenna, her new assistant, her mom, and her birth mom share equal parts of their lives as you read about Jenna's failed marriage and her attempt to reconnect with her creative self. While she's gaining self-confidence, her new assistant, Violet, is forging her career path after rough teenage years without any family to fall back on. Beth, Jenna's mom, is dealing with the birth mother's surprise intrusion into their lives and Serenity, the birth mom, is a free-spirit who wants to make up for years without memories. While guys are mentioned and relationships with them explored, they aren't the center of the story. The center is about change and forgiveness and growing. What do you do when your life is turned upside down? How do you find the strength to pick yourself up? Can a heart hold enough love for two families? A very enjoyable read that brought tears to my eyes.
Having never read anything by Susan Mallery, I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this novel. I was initially intrigued by the cover. It's gorgeous. I tend to find myself choosing books based on the beautiful cover design, and often it's disappointing. Not so with Already Home. I loved just about everything about this novel, the engaging story, the well-written (and often flawed) characters, the little cook shop. Oh, how I wanted to pop into Grate Expectations and chat and cook with Jenna and Violet. While some of the plot points were a tad predictable, I found the book as a whole to be completely enjoyable and one I had a hard time putting down. From just a quick glance at some of the other titles under Ms. Mallery's belt, it appears she's typically a romance novelist. Like I said, I've not read her other work, so I'm going strictly by titles and cover art, and I could be wrong. But in any case, it does appear she's branching out with Already Home. It's got romance, but I wouldn't call it a romance novel. There's too much substance to attach that narrow a label. If you enjoy really good women's fiction, this is definitely one to put on your to read list.
Newly divorced sous-chef , Jenna Stevens, moves home to Georgetown, Texas where her adopted parents, Beth and Marshal still live. She opens a store named Grate Expectations. She hires streetwise and business savvy, Violet to help her run the store. After the first week Jenna realizes the store is in jeopardy of being a failure. With the help of Violet they brainstorm and come up with new ideas. She reopens and the store becomes an instant success. One day a man and woman show up at Jenna's store and announce that they are her birth parents, Serenity and Tom. Serenity is a free spirit and totally different from her adoptive mother Beth. Jenna learns that it is alright to have two mothers. I love the way Susan Mallery tells this story. She makes you think about lifes twists and turns. Even though things change, the love of family and friends is most important in your life.
With her marriage to chef Aaron in ruins due to his cheating and her self-esteem in the sewer, sous chef Jenna Stevens leaves Los Angeles and returns home to Texas. When Jenna sees a to rent sign near her parent's home where she is staying, she decides to open a cooking store. She immediately hires Violet to work at the store. Like Jenna, trying to move on to is Violet. She and Jenna make a terrific team at the store and as friends. Violet also is welcomed by Jenna's mother, Beth who worries about her daughter succeeding with a store as Jenna has no experience running a shop. However, just after the store opens, her biological parents Atomic and Serenity arrive hoping to bond with their daughter; confusing Jenna and upsetting her mom. The extended family females (to include Violet and Jenna's high school friends) are fully developed characters with fears, flaws and diverse personalities. On the other hand the men in their lives lack that same level of intensity as they each come across as one dimensional in support of the prime woman in their life. Still readers will enjoy Susan Mallery's warm contemporary tale as jittery Jenna finds her groove. Harriet Klausner
Jenna's story has some definite pluses: her wonderful parents, Violet, and the fact that her ex-husband got some of what was coming to him. Her adoptive mother's insecurities seemed very real and honest. And Jenna's reaction to her birth parents deciding to show up because she had not listened to the promptings of the universe to search for them was right on target. However, I found her birth mother to be so incredibly irritating. Violet's attempt to date a good guy ended up being really scary. And Jenna's love interest was patronizing and not terribly likable. It was not difficult to figure out her birth mother's agenda. (She was pushing the universe along in aid of her own desires.) But I was not a fan of her conviction that she could, upon a few weeks' acquaintance, attempt to guide and goad Jenna into what she considered Jenna's true calling. The funeral seemed to be a cosmic release for Jenna, frankly. I have liked Susan Mallery's books for years, and can accept an ensemble story with no problem, but with only a tepid romance for the main character (which is maybe more real with all she had going on in her life), Violet and Dragon's relationship was so interesting that I was wanting the book to be about her. Jenna could have been the supporting character. No, it was not my favorite Susan Mallery book.
The storyline captures you & draws you in. . .would love to see more on this story.
Jenna looks for a new lease on life after divorce; running her own cooking store in her home town. Learning business from a street smart store manager, her parents helpful and the an unusual occurrence happens. Her birth family appears and she has the surprise of hippy parents, who own a winery and 2 brothers. Her ex-husband makes an appearance, when a book and TV deal appeared , and he's not the real chef. Dating is interesting, for Jenna and Violet, the men are a real range of characters. Susan Mallery's talent for being able to piece multiple scenarios together in a great story.
I LOVED this book. It made me cry, laugh, happy & angry. When I read a book and can REALLY feel it, it is the kind of book I am after to read. I would HIGHLY recommend this.
Seems like it’s been two years since I’ve been able to spend the evening huddled around a Susan Mallery book. Finally getting the opportunity to do just that showed me how much I’ve missed it. Here are the reading results: Best supporting actor goes to Dragon. His quick and snarky attitude had me wanting an entire book dedicated to Dragon alone. But back to the main storyline: This book is one of evolution. The synopsis informs the to-be reader that Jenna is in need of change after a failed marriage which resulted in a broken cooking-spirit. I tentatively began reading but was soon grateful that I did. Jenna is not the same person the reader meets at the beginning of the book. But it’s the evolving story that comes together page by page. Already Home involves a dynamic and intriguing cast of characters, not a single one boring or out of place. And finally, my eyes watered…and I don’t cry; it’s a fact of life. However, without giving away any spoilers, my eyes did get a bit misty. In sum, do you want to spend a few evening reading a book from which you’ll place next to your collection of all of Susan Mallery’s other books with a sense of peacefulness, or, I dare say, Serenity? Closing Already Home after finishing the final page put a content smile on my face, and I can’t ask for more from my favorite authors.
I loved the relationships in this book. It was more about Jenna's relationships with her parents, her biological family, and her friends than it was a romance. I'm very close to my mom and so I loved the dynamics between mother and daughter. As a native Texan, I also appreciate that she accurately portrays us and doesn't create characters who sound like hicks. In total, this is a book that feels like a hug and makes you want to hug your mom or best friend and tell them how much you love them. In my opinion, that's a great book.