By: Lin Stepp
Publication Date: 2/23/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars
A special thank you to Kensington and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Southern storyteller, Lin Stepp delivers another charming tale in the Smoky Mountain Series, WELCOME BACK, a journey of second chances, forgiveness, family and some rekindled romance.
Lydia Cunningham moved on years ago, leaving her husband, John and daughter, Mary Beth behind in the mountains of North Carolina for a job opportunity at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. She still loved her husband, and her home; however, she could no longer tolerate her difficult mother-in-law’s (Estelle) constant criticism and the interference in their lives. She had reasons for leaving the farm.
As the book opens, Lydia is leaving Atlanta behind and her sons to return to North Carolina. Her sons—JT, Billy Dale (Will) and Parker are not happy about it. They are concerned about their mother, subjecting herself to more hurt. John is estranged from his wife and sons.
Lydia has taken a job at Western Carolina University and is renting Hill House, located on Cunningham Farm, where her husband and daughter live. Not divorced, yet it has been ten years. They wanted different things. Her sons had gotten educations tuition-free.
Cunningham Farm is known for its calicos and collies, and its old historic apple orchard which has been in the family for many generations. There is also a ghost. Many legends about the Cherokee Indian Red Haw and Nance Dude. (if you have been to the area, you are aware of the history)
When she returns to Cunningham Farm in the Maggie Valley of Western Carolina. She finds some things the same and other things have changed. Her husband John is different now. Lydia has happy memories and she gets to spend time with her grandsons, (twin six- year- old boys) Billy Ray and Bucky. She is now Nana Lydia. They call John, Daddy John. A back story here.
It may be time for starting over, since Estelle has passed. Renting the house will help out financially and give her the opportunity to rebuild relationship with the father of her children and her daughter. Readers also hear viewpoint for each character’s perspective and the choices made at the time.
Possibly a spark is still there and they both have changed. New respect for one another? Can they forgive and a second chance?
As always,Lin brings the characters to life with vivid settings, and an important takeaway message. A novel of family, history, loyalty, forgiveness, and acceptance infused with Christian faith.
Having lived in Atlanta and North Carolina, always enjoy the settings and catching up with familiar places and characters. I prefer Highlands and Cashiers area of North Carolina: however, recall years ago taking my young sons to Maggie Valley’s Ghost Town in the Sky and Santa's Land Theme Park & Zoo in Cherokee. (30 yrs ago).