Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Nancy Herkness - The Place I Belong

Fleeing professional scandal and a broken engagement, veterinarian Hannah Linden abandons Chicago for the mountain town of Sanctuary, West Virginia, hoping to put her troubles with men and the media behind her. But when she encounters world-famous chef Adam Bosch, she finds herself increasingly drawn to the charming but darkly complex man and his troubled teenage son, Matt. Adam, a recovering alcoholic, fears he can never be a worthy father to the surly, distant boy he has just come to know, and enlists Hannah’s help in his struggle to connect with his son.
Hoping to coax Matt out of his shell, Hannah introduces the boy to an ailing brown pony who has the power to change his view of the world. But can the determined little whisper horse prove to Hannah, Adam, and Matt that they were meant to be a family?

Comment: This the third story in the Whisper Horse trilogy by author Nancy Herkness. I've read and enjoyed the previous two books but I have to say this one was much better. Nevertheless, it wasn't perfect, especially because the romance could have been more...well, romantic.

This book presents us Hannah Linden, a new veterinarian who comes to work for dr Tim (hero from book #1) so he can have more free time to travel with his wife.
Hannah has had a bad experience professionally and she applied to Sanctuary so she could hide but eventually her past catches up with her. Still, Hannah does her work and she helps a sick horse before he died. At the same time she bonds with both Adam Bosch and his son Matt, for different reasons. But Adam and Hannah come from different backgrounds and experiences. Can their relationship be more than polite and friendly? What about the town, would everyone accept Hannah as one of their own?

I enjoyed this book quite a lot, in particular when Hannah was working. I think her work shines here and the knowledge about how to treat and care for animals is quite realistic. I think part of my delight over this third book is because the theme is more interesting than the artistic elements or connected to the art world we got in bigger quantities in the previous books. 
I like animals and it was great to read about them as well. Although the hero, Adam, is a chef and we read some about his job and experience, the focus is clearly on Hannah and liking what she does, being that an important part of the novel, made this book feel better.

Despite this, I can't help but notice how little romantic the story is. The author's writing is elegant and precise, very serious and with a feel to it that doesn't seem to be written by someone who's there to play around. But this means, despite how well executed and presented the story is and how interesting or not the characters are, nothing is truly addictive to read about. The relationship between the protagonists is realistic, not unbelievable in terms of pace or development, but it's too precise, too easy to fit within what's to expect. They don't behave as people falling in love, everything is too quiet and safe. Almost like they can't have fun because of their pasts or the things they face in their heads...I think I'd like to see them act more happy once in a while.

Adam is an interesting character, we've learned some things about him the other books but here we have his whole story and why he is making some choices concerning his son. I liked to see him falling for his son as well, to understand he will be a good father. There are some dep layers to Adam's personality I liked seeing but I sure wished he were more fun sometimes and that we could have more glimpses of his work.
Because most focus was on Hannah, that aspect got slightly lost but all things considered, it was nice to see Adam in his territory, so to speak.

Hannah, obviously, was the main character here. I think she is a great heroine, I liked knowing and reading about her and how brave she was to face everything, even if she took some time to bear her thoughts. I especially liked seeing her work and think how important it was to have roots, to feel part of a community again. The epilogue was nice in that sense.
Her relationship with Adam was lacking in some aspects I think would have added more interest and even passion to everything but I can't say it was badly done.

My favorite parts were about the animals and their owners..although even that had one or two sad situations that made me cry. But I think any animal lover would appreciate this story.
Out of all three, this made the more sense to me in all levels. But, I keep saying, the romance could have had more romantic scenes or moments to explain to us with no doubt how much they were in love. Otherwise, it's still good but it doesn't seem as convincing when they finally admit it.
Still, a good story.
Grade: 8/10

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