After fleeing her hometown three years earlier, Alyssa Harrison never planned to return. Then the Silicon Valley start-up she worked for collapsed and turned her world upside down. She is broke, under FBI investigation, and without a place to go. Having exhausted every option, she comes home to Winsome, Illinois, to regroup then move on as quickly as possible. Yet, as friends and family welcome her back, Alyssa begins to see a place for herself in this small Midwestern community.
Jeremy Mitchell moved from Seattle to Winsome to be near his daughter and to open the coffee shop he’s been dreaming of for years. Problem is, the business is bleeding money—and he’s not quite sure why. When he meets Alyssa, he senses an immediate connection, but what he needs most is someone to help him save his floundering business. After asking for her help, he wonders if something might grow between them—but forces beyond their control soon complicate their already complex lives, and the future they both hoped for is not at all what they anticipated.
With the help of Winsome’s small-town charm and quirky residents, Alyssa and Jeremy discover the beauty and romance of second chances.
I have to say clearly from the beginning, I don’t understand the Goodreads rating for this book at all ☹ This book is far better than its rating, in my humble opinion.
Here we go . . . .
Going home is hard to do; going home with your tail firmly tucked between your legs is damn-near impossible. When you add total humiliation, the possibility of jailtime thanks to the shady company you worked for, a complete lack of funds, and an estrangement from your mother whose house you need to return to, well, going home is most certainly a level of Hell. After a very, very long drive, being robbed, and generally dreading her reception, Alyssa Harrison is now firmly ensconced in her own personal level of Hell.
Alyssa has no intention of staying in her hometown for more than the summer, she has no intention of making nice with her mother, and she has no intention of going to jail. As the old saying goes, we plan, and God laughs! The first bit of laughter comes when Alyssa is forced, by her dad, to return to her childhood home where her mother still lives; the second bit of laughter comes when Alyssa’s car breaks down and she is forced to work off the repairs at the local service station, and yet another bit of laughter comes when Alyssa realizes the FBI has interviewed everyone but her and they have yet to reach out regarding her old company. To add insult to injury, as the days move forward, there’s a load more laughter coming Alyssa’s way before she finally gets her sh*t together.
One of the ways in which Alyssa finally begins to pull her life together is helping her friends with their accounting. One of Alyssa’s greatest strengths is her ability to see and understand numbers in a way many others cannot. To that end, her best friend not only hits her with a harsh dose of reality but employs her to review her restaurant’s numbers and see how and where they can improve their overall spending and saving. What’s more, Alyssa’s best friend also encourages her to do the same thing for the new local coffee shop owner, Jeremy Mitchell, whose grand new coffee shop is failing miserably, and he has no idea why.
Alyssa’s time at home is an awakening on so many levels. Though she spends a great deal of her initial weeks at home fighting everything and everyone, Alyssa has a scary moment of reality when she lands herself in the hospital. From that moment on, Alyssa truly begins to reassess her life, her position in other’s lives, and how she has behaved and contributed to her own situation. Once Alyssa makes the decision to right the wrongs of the past, her future suddenly becomes far more realistic and potentially very happy.
The Bottom Line: I reiterate, I feel like this book is far better than its star rating on Goodreads. I read this book cover to cover in a single sitting and regret nothing. While I have focused my review exclusively on Alyssa, this book is also the story of coffee shop owner Jeremy Mitchell and I found his story to be just as appealing and interesting as Alyssa’s. When their stories begin to cross over, the story becomes even more interesting and well-rounded. Make no mistake, this isn’t a silly or frivolous story, but the story of two very broken people trying to make sense of their lives and put all the wrongs to right. When you add in the minor characters, there’s a depth to this story that I really appreciated. In all, a fine read that is worth more than its rating suggests.