Thursday, August 19, 2021

Catherine Bybee - Home to Me

After Erin Fleming escapes from her controlling and abusive ex, she finds refuge in the heart of Santa Clarita, California. Eager to start over, she has a new name, a new look, and a new career. Settled into a private guesthouse, Erin can breathe free. Far from the shadows she’s outrun, Erin is finally learning to live for herself. Her new unexpected friendship with her landlord starts to crack open the armor Erin’s enclosed herself in. But it’s Matt who speeds up the pace of Erin’s heart and makes her wish for things she believes she can never have.
Matt Hudson, a firefighter in one of California’s wildfire epicenters, has a passion for danger. He lives for the adrenaline rush his profession awards him. But his protective instincts take over once Matt meets Erin. So does an attraction he can’t deny. Above all else, he’s determined to prove to Erin that she can trust him. As the sparks between them ignite, so does a real-world danger. Erin’s past is not letting go. It’s just in hiding.
Before Erin’s ex finds her, she and Matt have to find him. And finally put an end to everything that’s becoming a threat to their love, and to Erin’s life.

Comment: Having enjoyed the first book in the series, I was more than convinced I would read the following one and this is the second one, which I also liked.

In this second book we have the story of Erin, she is the woman who started renting a room homeowner Parker (heroine from the previous book) made available on her propriety. Erin feels safer by having people close and she has found in Parker and her family people she can trust. However, she is still hiding from her ex, who was abusive, and she believes she can't have new relationships in danger he might find her and hurt those people as he threatened to hurt her sister, whom she hasn't seen in a long time. Still, it can be difficult not to worry and not to care when those she meets are caring and friendly, especially Matt, brother to Parker's boyfriend, and someone she feels likes her too. But will she be able to trust a man again, knowing another might be dangerous?

As soon as I've finished this book, apart from the overall feel of enjoyment, my first thought was how unoriginal the story was but how I still liked it and enjoyed spending time with the characters. Someone hiding from an abusive ex, or trying to stay under the radar but being helpless to care and like those closer isn't anything new in the world of romance, but the way this was told, its natural simplicity really made me happy.

Erin has had a good life until her marriage. We learn things went in a very common road when it comes to classic cases of domestic abuse, and her slightly older husband was suave and charming at first but quickly became someone she didn't recognize anymore. Erin found a way to escape, has her lawyer helping her but she feels she needs to stay away, not having close bonds with other people for fear he might find her and hurt them to attack her. This has been seen in many other novels but what I felt was different here is how the author wrote things, how the feel of the small community and group of friends - mostly through Matt and his family - made Erin realize she is actually stronger if she has people who can help her.

I did like Erin as a character. She is resourceful but she also tries to protect others so I could understand her behavior and reasoning. I also liked how her relationship with Matt developed, slow at first as one would expect from someone who is still afraid of having people too close, but he was persistent in a funny, non aggressive way and I could believe they would suit one another and could be a happy couple. It really was fun to see the small steps they both took into being comfortable in each other presence and how caring Matt was to try to let Erin feel good around him and, at some, point. even taking the first step to be near him. I found the romance to be cute.

Matt is a traditionally good guy. He understands and respects Erin's boundaries but he lets it be known he is there for her. I liked how their relationship progressed, things were slow at first but through the scenes included, I could believe they were in the same page and would be a good couple. I think this is where sometimes some authors are more appreciated than others. For me, somehow, this story works out on this author's words and in the way she wrote it, whereas similar plots don't feel as engaging and romantic written in a different way.

As expected, Erin ends up having to confront her ex but even that went on a road one might not think would be the one chosen. I think it allowed things to be solved, Erin to find closure but I also found it great she decided to get back with her life even before that confrontation happened, it proved she was doing things for herself and not to follow a pattern.

There were scenes, moments I didn't find as appealing, there was some dragging here and there but overall, this was another good installment and I will definitely read the next one.
Grade: 8/10

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