At thirty-eight, garden shop owner Jessie McBride thinks her chances for romance are years behind her and, after her failed marriage, she’s fine with that. She lives contentedly with her fiery mother and her quiet, headstrong daughter. But the unexpected arrival of two men on Glory Road make her question if she’s really happy with the status quo. Handsome, wealthy Sumner Tate asks her to arrange flowers for his daughter’s wedding, and Jessie finds herself drawn to his continued attention. And Ben Bradley, her lingering what-could-have-been from high school days who’s known her better than anyone and whom she hasn’t seen in years, moves back to the red dirt road. Jessie finds her heart being pulled in directions she never expected.
Meanwhile, Jessie’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Evan, is approaching the start of high school and trying to navigate a new world of identity and emotions–particularly as they relate to the cute new guy who’s moved in just down the road. At the same time, Jessie’s mother, Gus, increasingly finds herself forgetful and faces a potentially frightening future.
As all three women navigate the uncertain paths of their hearts and futures, one summer promises to bring change–whether they’re ready for it or not.
I think I could legitimately spend far too much time waxing poetic about Lauren K. Denton and novels! In Denton, I have found an author who has, to date, made every book worth the wait and Glory Road is certainly no exception to that rule!
For most of her thirty-eight years, Jessie McBride has lived on Glory Road, the long dusty stretch of road occupied by herself, her mother, her daughter, a whole host of neighbors who, like the McBride’s have lived in the area for generations. Glory Road is comforting, comfortable, a place of refuge, and a place those who leave often come back to. Jessie is a prime example. After far too many years in a bad marriage, Jessie has built a life she quite loves in Glory Road. She owns a moderately successful garden shop, works with her delightfully spry mother, and is raising an all-around good kid. While Jessie may sometimes feel a bit lonely as far as romance goes, overall, she has little to complain about.
Oh, how fate and the universe just love to step in and shake things up. . . .
As if the universe just understands loneliness, within a few weeks of one another, two men come into Jessie’s life. Sumner Tate is the epitome of southern charm and he is hell-bent on having Jessie work for him in the form of florist for his daughter’s wedding. Additionally, Sumner makes it clear (in a totally charming way) he is interested in Jessie beyond her flower arranging abilities. Though Sumner is certainly interesting, it is the other man who truly sets Jessie’s emotions aflame. Ben Bradley, the one who could have been and should have been so many years ago is back on Glory Road and he’s looking to, at the very least rekindle the friendship he and Jessie once had.
In addition to the men in her life, Jessie also has some disconcerting concerns over her mother, Gus. Physically, Gus is as spry as ever, loves to putter around in the garden shop with Jessie, and cooks and bakes for the family on a regular basis. Gus is kind, friendly, devoted to her girls, and, of late showing some signs of her age. With increasing frequency, Gus becomes lost in her own mind and memories and when she comes out of these states, she refuses to speak of them with Jessie. Though she’s not hurt herself or put herself or anyone else in danger, the episodes are troubling and need to be dealt with sooner rather than later.
For someone who has long valued and protected her comfort zone, Jessie suddenly finds herself, with two men and her mother, very much outside her comfort zone. Gus is completely encouraging of Jessie’s resurrected love life and ridiculously excited for the future possibilities the wedding flower project may bring for the garden shop. More than anything, Gus wants to see Jessie happy and though she can’t make the ultimate choice for her daughter, she can share some her own life experiences and wisdom. In turn, Jessie is passing on what she knows of life and love to her own daughter who is just beginning to understand the complexities of both.
The Bottom Line: At its core, Glory Road is the story of three generations of women who are, no matter their age finding their way in life, adjusting to the changes the universe likes to bring, and learning to truly lean on and rely on others when they need help. This is the aspect of this read I loved the most! Denton knows how to weave together lives, stories, events, and emotions that aren’t fictional at all and certainly not confined to her books. Glory Road may be classified among fiction books, but its story is real, relatable, and completely engrossing because it is a story so many among us can identify with at least on some level. As I generally do with Denton’s books, I blazed through this read and came away almost totally satisfied. They only thing I found lacking is an epilogue; if ever there was a book that simply begs for an epilogue, Glory Road would be that book. With that being said, the lack of an epilogue isn’t enough to keep me from, yet again adoring this beautifully written family saga. To get more like this, I will gladly wait until the next release this time next year.