Home to Chicory Lane
By Deborah Raney
Chicory Inn Series, #1
Abingdon Press, 2014
Home to Chicory Lane offers a tender mix between big-city New York and small-town Langhorne, between big family drama and a faith that binds them together---for better or worse.
Landyn longs for home, but her mother may have other plans.
Audrey Whitman's dreams are coming true. Now that their five kids are grown, she and her husband, Grant, are turning their beloved family home into a cozy bed and breakfast just a mile outside of Langhorne, Missouri.
Opening weekend makes Audrey anxious, with family and friends coming from all over to help celebrate the occasion. But when Audrey's daughter, Landyn, arrives, the U-Haul she's pulling makes it clear she's not just here for a few days. Audrey immediately has questions. What happened in New York that sent Landyn running home? Where was Landyn's husband, Chase? And what else was her daughter not telling her? One thing was for sure, the Chicory Inn was off to a rocky start. Can Audrey still realize her dream and at the same time provide the comfort of home her daughter so desperately needs?
With Home to Chickory Lane, book one in the Chicory Inn series, Deborah Raney has created my kind of story - small-town setting, a family that I cared about, and plenty of romance and drama. The setting is the beautiful Whitman family home/B &B, located on 50 acres with a creek running through it. There's good character depth and Deborah's prose flows smoothly. A good bit of this story is told from the male perspective, making its appeal reach beyond that of women readers. The first page captured my interest and I'm eager to delve even more into this family's life as the series unfolds.
Deborah has a gift for creating realistic characters, and Landyn is kind of hard to like in the beginning. She initially comes across as the spoiled and selfish baby of the family, resenting anyone who tries to tell her what to do, and is willing to walk out on her marriage of six months. Chase, who had been raised by a single mom, was drawn to Landyn's family, yet never felt he measured up in their eyes. I especially enjoy stories about a couple working at their marriage, and Deborah does a great job in showing the problems - insecurity, lack of communication, financial strain - as well as the maturity and growth that comes when love and commitment are in the picture.
Chase was almost terrified of being a dad, which made him such a sympathetic character to me. These words express that fear so well: "The only thing he knew about fathers was that they left town the year you started T-ball, when all the other kids' dads were teaching them how to swing a bat and field a ball. And every few years they promised to come visit and take you to the zoo, or the rodeo, or Disneyland. And then you packed your bag and sat on the front stoop from morning till dark, waiting for an invisible hero who never showed up."
One theme of Home to Chicory Lane is about seeing the God-given blessings in our lives, for it is so easy for us to focus on the negatives, even as Christians. I loved the road-trip scene where the beautiful hymn, Count Your Blessings, became a springboard for Chase and Landyn to begin putting a name to all that they had.
But it was the theme of following God's leading that spoke strongest to me, and all who have struggled with whether what they felt was from God or not can relate to this story. These words spoken by Landyn's grandmother to Chase sum it up well: "God rarely works in ways that make sense to us while they're happening. All too often, it's only after we look back, sometimes many years later - often, truth be told, peering over heaven's balcony - that we can make sense of the way He was working."
I enjoyed Home to Chicory Lane very much and recommend it to all who enjoy relationship drama/romance. This is a great beginning to a series that will focus on Grant and Audrey's children, with Corinne & Jesse being featured in the next story, Two Roads Home.
Home to Chicory Lane can be purchased online at CBD, DeeperShopping, B&N, and Amazon. You can also learn more at the Litfuse blog tour page.
Deborah Raney's books have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. Deb enjoys teaching at writers' conferences across the country. She and her husband, Ken, recently traded small-town life in Kansas---the setting of many of Deb's novels---for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita where they enjoy gardening, antiquing, movies, and traveling to visit four children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away.
Connect with Deborah online at deborahraney.com, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.
Thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Abingdon Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.