#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.…
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About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has entertained millions of readers with her witty and emotional stories about women. Publishers Weekly calls Susan’s prose “luscious and provocative,” and Booklist says “Novels don’t get much better than Mallery’s expert blend of emotional nuance, humor and superb storytelling.” Susan lives in Seattle with her husband and her tiny but intrepid toy poodle. Visit her at www.SusanMallery.com.
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. What's 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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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
Susan Mallery - Already HomeAfter breaking up with her chef husband who was a philanderer, Jenna (who is also a chef) needs to get a life of her own. She seems to find one when she buys a store and starts to convert it to a cookware store. With the help of newly hired store manager, Violet, who is a bit of an unusual character with an interesting back round, Jenna starts to make a `go¿ at her store. Now Jenna has always know she was adopted and never cared to know who her birth parents were¿but fate has a way of demanding that you change your mind about how things should be. And she finds this out the hard way when her `aging hippie¿ parents show up out of the blue. This was a complex story, but not a romance as we have come to love from Ms Mallery. Instead of a romance, this was more of a story about how an adult child of adoption handles her birth parents coming to find her. In addition, the sub-story from Violet is one that some sensitive people may find difficult to read. Unfortunately, the things that should have been a surprise to the reader were so obvious throughout the story, that I never felt the strong emotion that I¿m sure Ms Mallery was trying to evoke.
Newly divorced and recently moved back home Jenna Stevens is about to embark on a new life and new career from Sous-Chef to retail store owner. Little does she know that her life has not quite stopped spinning as she¿s about to have more surprises fall at her feet.Susan Mallery has brought us many heartwarming tales and Already Home is just another in that long list, in it she presents to us a storyline that is lived for real everyday in just about every locale across the globe, someone starting over with the help and support of her family. Then our author extraordinaire throws us a couple curve balls worthy of the MLB and as the plot takes it twists and turns the audience revels in the resulting chaos. She delivers this with dialogue that¿s easy to understand and easy to read and a narrative that¿s descriptive enough that we can easily picture her scenes in our heads. She gives us characters that are all memorable and imperative to the tale. Her main protagonist and heroine Jenna is a breath of fresh air with all those perfect Barbie like heroines out there we finally get one with substance and errors. Now don¿t fret, yes this is a romance, and Jenna does get her knight in shining armor in the package of a holistic doctor named Ellington who is another bright spot on the character horizon. Where most authors would leave things there, our Ms. Mallery takes it a step or two further by bringing in more main characters, more problems and more solutions to really get our blood flowing, which of course works to perfection. The love scenes are very shadowy and hide behind the curtain of innuendo and vagueness and would not offend any reader but those of us all in favor of hot and spicy scenes, have no fear it¿s plain enough that we¿ll get it with no trouble at all.Almost Home is telling us, it¿s never too late to start over and you can go home again. It tells us that blood isn¿t always thicker than water and family isn¿t necessarily born into but made. It tells us that just because we fail at love once doesn¿t mean we should give up, look long enough for it and it¿ll come. So if all of that is what you look for in your romance, look no further and definitely put Already Home on your To Be Read pile right on top.
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.
I have enjoyed almost everything I¿ve read by Susan Mallery, some of her books I liked more than others, and some of them are pure gold. I believe this book falls into the last category.Already Home is about a group of women whose lives get mixed together by different reasons. Jenna is recently divorced and is back at home, her self-esteem has gotten such a huge blow that she is even changing careers, she used to be a chef but now feels so insecure that is starting a cookware store. Violet is also insecure in her personal life, but for a complete different set of reasons, she comes to the store looking for a job, and quickly a friendship ensures between the two of them.On the other hand is Beth, she is Jenna¿s adoptive mother, and she is happy that her daughter is back in town, but is worried about her. And then, along comes Serenity, she is Jenna¿s birth mother and has come to meet her daughter. Needless to say that Jenna is shocked and not too happy about it.This book has a lot going on, but Susan tells the story in a way that it doesn¿t feel confusing, or complicated, and she treats every character as a leading lady, they all get the spotlight at the right time, and that gave me the opportunity to get to know each one of them, and specially let me connect and relate to them.I loved both Jenna and Violet, I liked how they were aware of their flaws, and I liked how they each learned from their mistakes. I think Violet¿s story in particular had the potential to become a soap fest and a melodrama, but it never felt that way, and I am really glad, I think is great to have wounded characters, but there is a fine line between sympathy and pity. Jenna¿s reaction to Serenity was realistic, and the development of their relationship was slow and full of highs and lows.Beth¿s character was also real, at first she reacts almost too good and carefree to Serenity, but then she cracks and the insecurities start to show. Serenity was perhaps my least favorite character, but it was more of a personal reaction, I didn¿t really understand the reasons behind her showing up like that, and that is part of the plot, you have to read the entire book to find out, but she was just too wise, too perfect, sometimes she rubbed me the wrong way.You will notice that I haven¿t mentioned any romance, and that is because this is not really a romance novel, yes, there are love interests for both Violet and Jenna, but they play a secondary role, and in this case that is ok because the book is about other types of love, the love between friends, the love between mother and daughter, the love between married couples, the love between siblings, and self-love. If you expect a book where the main couple relationship gets all the attention, then don¿t read this one, there are lots of different POVs in this one, but they are all the women¿s, I don¿t think there was any need for us to get into the men¿s heads though, their intentions towards the heroines were really clear.I did feel that the ending was a bit rushed, maybe the book would have benefited by some extra pages, or perhaps an epilogue (although I¿m not much of a fan of those), there were some actions and decisions left unexplained, and we do get the certainty that everything is going to just fine, and the girls do get their HEA, but maybe it would have been nice to see it. And yeah, the very last sentence was really, really corny, at least for my taste.Overall it was a wonderful story, very heartening, I laugh, I cried, it kept me glued to my seat, and after reading it I feel the need to recommend it to everyone. Go and buy it, and if this is your first encounter with Susan Mallery (although I don¿t think there is a fan of romance out there that is not familiar with her) go and check her backlist because she is very talented, and this book was the perfect example of that.
This is a wonderful emotion charged story! Loved the characters and felt for all of them. They all had their own things going on but were all connected so it was easy to keep track! So many plot twists and turns! Just kept me intrested all the way through!!
There are a couple things I want to tell you right off the bat. This is my first Susan Mallery novel. I actually requested this because my sister is a fan of hers. I figured it was time I checked her out myself. I expected your typical ¿chick lit¿ type novel, a simple story with a happy ending. Man was I surprised when I got to the bones of the story. Although the story was primarily about the return of Jenna¿s birth parents, the highlight for me was the friendships the women shared and the relationships the women had with each other. They were each so different, yet very believable. Ms. Mallery has a gift. She writes in a way that makes it very easy to get invested in the characters. Thirty pages in and I felt a bond with them. I was pretty much set not to like Jenna. By all accounts, she was just about perfect. I hate that in a character. Yet Ms. Mallery did something I didn¿t expect, she gave her a touch of insecurity and self-doubt that endeared me to her. She wasn¿t whiny, but real. She took what was meant to be defeating and turned it into triumph. She faced trials but never took on a defeated attitude. I couldn¿t help but hope that things turned out for the best. I especially enjoyed her growing friendship with Violet. I loved Violet, I want to be friends with Violet. I really enjoyed her journey. I liked that although hers was a supporting role, Ms. Mallery gave her story life. I don¿t want to write too much about her journey because well, when I first read it, I had a total ¿Why The Face?¿ moment and I want you to have it too. Although hers was a secondary story, it was powerful enough without stealing Jenna¿s thunder. The stories, as well as the characters and their friendships complimented each other rather well.I think this is a great read. It¿s powerful enough to tug at your heartstrings and bring a tear to your eye, yet it¿s laced with humor and above all hope. I know this is only the beginning of my Susan Mallery journey. I look forward to reading more by her.
Heart wrenching, and thought provoking, Jenna returns to her hometown after a marriage that culminated in divorce and the total loss of her self-esteem. Jenna jumps into opening a retail store, something that she has no experience with, and begins a journey back to a better life. When her birth mother comes on the scene, Jenna's foundation shakes. Great read, with enough tension in the plot to create interest, but a good positive ending.
Fun, relaxing read, where everything ends nicely. Nothing wrong with that, I need to read more books like this!
I love it when a book makes you feel ¿ be it humor that causes you to laugh out loud, the rush of adrenaline you get from a good action/thriller, or straight from the heart as you experience what the characters are going through. To do that is the sign of a great writer. That is what you find from Susan Mallery and her book Already Home.This is the story of Jenna Stevens and her return home to Central Texas to pick up the pieces of her life after a failed marriage. Little did she plan on the extra pieces of the puzzle and how they would change how she expected to fit into her life. What started out as a ¿coming to terms¿ story of her new post-marriage life and new business adventure takes a dramatic turn with the arrival of her birth parents and siblings.We feel her struggle to stay true to the only parents she has ever known, while being pushed to get to know the ones who gave her life. The interesting interaction and side story of the two mothers add to the layers of this story. One is the conventional and level headed glue that keeps her family together, the other a new age hippie, vegan who gets messages from the universe. Mix in her new assistant, a couple of brothers; Dragon and Wolf, a hot naturopathic healer and you have the recipe for a story that will take you to the emotional edge and back.The responses run the gambit of laughter, passion, and heartache that will have you clinging to the tissue box. It is not all sunshine and roses in Jenna¿s life, but in true Susan Mallery fashion, in the end we do find that with patience and understanding true love can prevail.ARC from-NetGalleyPublisher-HarlequinAvailable - April 2011
Posted on Book Chelle.I was drawn to Susan Mallery¿s Already Home because of the cover. I know, I shouldn¿t base my book choices on the cover, but could you blame me? It¿s really pretty. And I fell in love with the story. It¿s sweet, in every way imaginable. This story is a quick read.Already Home tells the story of Jenna. Jenna has just gotten out of a terrible marriage and has moved home to pick up the pieces. Jenna¿s adopted parents have welcomed her home and support her in any way that they can. Formerly a sous chef, Jenna has decided to open a cooking store, complete with every necessity needed for the shopper¿s own kitchen.Unfortunately, Jenna¿s experience is in the kitchen, and she does not have any retail experience. With the help of new found friend and employee, Violet, they quickly turn the store into a success. But that¿s not all, ladies! Jenna¿s birth mother shows up and stirs the pot. Well, it¿s not in a negative way, but it does throw things off.Jenna had a husband who wanted to be #1 and took the spotlight and credit for Jenna¿s talent. It¿s no wonder that she has to build up her self-esteem. Jenna, despite her issues, is determined to make a life for herself and be happy doing so. Jenna is talented and knows her way around the kitchen, but she does have a control issue. Once she opens her heart, Jenna then finds her way to happiness.The relationship dynamic that Jenna has between her adoptive mother and her birth mother are so different. I can see the personality traits, from each mother, reflect within Jenna. I felt really bad for Jenna¿s adoptive mother. She was supportive and allowed for the relationship between Jenna and her birth mother to mature naturally. Jenna¿s birth mother was a hurricane, quickly invading Jenna¿s life and not aware of her actions. It was hard to read because the emotions were real and raw.Another supporting character is Violet. While Violet is different from Jenna, they each had their similarities. They fall into a fast friendship that I think they both needed. I¿m glad that Violet¿s bubbly and uplifting personality rubbed off on Jenna, she definitely needed it.Already Home is another reason why I love Mallery¿s work. It is such an emotionally satisfying read that will resonate in my mind for a while. I laughed and I cried. And the best part of the story? Women took a lead and the romance wasn¿t the show stopper. Although, I did love the Happily Ever After.For a great read, filled with love between family and friends, pick up Already Home.
Let's start with the cover of this book... just look at it.... I mean, this is the type of book I'd buy just because of its stunning cover. But once I opened its pages I knew that this is the type of book that you enjoy owning because you just want to own it.When Jenna's husband betrays her, she leaves her home and career as a sous-chef in L.A. and returns to her small hometown in Texas to rebuild her life. She decides to switch gears and opens a cookware store where she meets a slew of characters (some family, some friends, some customers) who play important roles in her coming to terms with the lemons life has given her. I love stories where the dynamics of relationships are the main focus and that is what you will find in Already Home. Jenna's friendship with Violet, her love for her adoptive mother and that of her biological mother, even her feelings for a new suitor are at the forefront of this story.Although Jenna is our leading lady, you also meet Violet, a young woman who begins working with Jenna with her own skeletons in the closet. There is a lot going on and there are a lot of characters that you are introduced to that have their own side stories. Ms. Mallery is an expert storyteller for what I would normally find to be too busy, was rather uncomplicated. She gave you time with each of her characters giving you a chance to know them and understand them which helped in distinguishing each one separately and in the end relating to and connecting with them. As for romance, there was some romance, but it was almost like a side note. Instead, I found this to be a story about relationships, about friendships, about love, about finding and believing in oneself. My only concern was that I found that it ended rather abruptly. And while I do enjoy a happily-ever-after ending, I found that it ended on the right note -- leaving the reader feeling hopeful. All in all, this was a very well-written, emotion-packed story. I loved its wonderful characters and surprisingly how much depth the story truly had. A great introduction to this author - I'll definitely be looking for more from her.