Review: Coming Home (Book #2: Chandler Hill Inn Series) by Judith Keim

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Camilla “Cami” Chandler comes home from France to take over the Chandler Hill Inn and Winery for her recently-deceased grandmother, Lettie, as she’d always promised. Determined to succeed in this new venture, she finds herself in trouble from the beginning when she discovers most of her grandmother’s estate intended for maintaining the inn’s business expenses was lost in a Ponzi scheme. She forges ahead to provide her guests with wonderful experiences and to produce the best wines in Willamette Valley. After being ditched by her French boyfriend, she decides that being friends with Drew Farley is the safest way to proceed. He loves grape growing and winemaking as much as she does and isn’t looking for anything beyond friendship.
When a bride planning a wedding at the inn tells Cami that she looks exactly like her best friend, life becomes even more complicated. Never having known even the name of her father, Cami searches for a connection and comes to realize how complicated love and family can be.

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Source: NetGalley and Wild Quail Publishing          Rating: 4/5 stars

**SPOILERS FOR BOOK ONE!!**

Cami Chandler has spent the better part of her life preparing for her inheritance.  As a child, she spent her days wandering through the grape vines of her family’s winery, studied both oenology and viticulture, and learned valuable lessons at her beloved grandmother’s side.  Oh yes, Cami Chandler has been preparing for her future, but she certainly didn’t expect to arrive as quickly as it has.

With one phone call, Cami’s life is turned upside down.  Her beloved grandmother, Lettie Chandler has died, and Cami is now the sole owner and proprietor of the Chandler Hill Inn and Winery.  Nothing reveals a person’s inabilities faster than being thrown into the deep end, and that’s exactly where Cami finds herself.  From a financial crisis she wasn’t anticipating to a dishonest inn manager, Cami has more than one plate in front of her and every one of them is overflowing.  As she learned from Lettie, Cami begins to rely on the people around her that she knows, and she trusts.  Though many are of her grandmother’s age and on the verge of retirement, they help Cami find her feet and find good, solid, and honest people who can take their place and work alongside Cami.

Above all else, Cami is determined to right the ship and maintain the hard-earned reputation of the inn and winery.  With nothing but the best of intentions and a very strong will, Cami dislodges the dishonest manager and takes the reins as she has always expected to do.  Though her changes and ideas are large, Cami has a great support network in place to help her realize her dreams for the inn and winery.  If things go as planned, Cami will be able to offer more than even her forward-thinking and industrious grandmother ever could have conceived of. 

And then, the universe steps in . . . . .

Just like her grandmother before her, Cami’s road isn’t an easy one.  Her soulless ex-boyfriend has reappeared in her life and is causing problems both personally and professionally, her ex-inn manager is a menace, there are some disastrous staffing issues, and Cami’s own love interest doesn’t seem to realize what he has right in front of him.  To make matters far worse, the universe isn’t content to drop these nuggets of awful in small chunks but in large heaping piles, simultaneously.  Oh, and on top of everything else, Cami may have inadvertently discovered the identity of her biological father.  Because life just isn’t crazy enough for poor Cami.

The Bottom Line:  As you can see from my star rating, I didn’t love this book as much as I did the first and that is for one reason and one reason only, the whole biological father bit.  This whole thing felt too far-fetched and wild for my liking and really brought down my overall enjoyment of the book.  Now, on to the better bits!  This book doesn’t cover near the time that the first book did, but it has the same overall feeling of a sweeping and emotional family saga.  Cami is, like her grandmother was, a very young single woman trying to make her way in life at both the personal and professional levels.  In so many scenes, I felt the presence of Lettie guiding Cami and helping her navigate a world she was only partially ready to inhabit.  Also like her grandmother, Cami has to forge her own path and she does so in spectacular fashion and surrounded by a wonderful group of people who want what Cami wants, a successful, happy, and fulfilling life and career.  Even in the bad moments, Cami always has her team, her support network, and people willing to come to her aid.  In this way, the legacy of Lettie and Chandler Hill is still very much alive and inspiring the next generation.

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