Leaving Home by Leigh Michaels
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a very competent book, and I enjoyed reading it, but I felt that too much time was spent on Brodie's internal dialogue, so I couldn't rate it quite as highly as I would like to, since I think Leigh Michaels is a very good writer, and I liked the story idea.
What I liked:
*I really liked Drew's character. He's everything that I admire in a man: hardworking, honorable, steadfast, loving, caring, not a pushover. He was 33-years-old, and he had a mature attractiveness that appealed to me. You could look at him and say, "Now here's a man." Compared to Brodie's ex, there was no question of who was the better man, although it took a while for Brodie to see that. I liked how he didn't ever try to force or push Brodie into anything. He had loved her for a long time, but he was willing to let her go if that was how she could be happy. I think he was very patient with her, considering her earlier immaturity and some potentially bad decisions she was going to make.
*I liked how Ms. Michaels showed Brodie's transition from spoiled girl to mature woman. At first, I was worried that I wouldn't like her. She made some assumptions that she could have her cake and eat it: get married young, drop out of school, live with Drew, have him pay for her and her husband's support. Really? However, she grew up, and I really liked her from that point on.
*For some reason, I love that guardian falls in love with his ward storyline. I admit that it could be creepy, unless the author has a mature hero like Drew that you can respect and trust to do the right thing.
*What can I say? I am a sucker for unrequited love. It was very clear from the beginning that Drew loved Brodie, but he never was selfish in his love. That's true love to me.
*I have to give Ms. Michael's kudos for touching on domestic violence so well. Brodie's ex was about to hit her when he found out she didn't have money of her own. She broke up with him, and he found himself a sweet (and shy and browbeaten by her rich father) young thing who was very rich. He started hitting on her, and beat her up so badly after they got married, she had bruises on her face and all over when she comes to Brodie for help. This was pretty dark subject matter, but it's very real life. I was glad that Brodie wasn't the kind of girl to stand for that, and Drew wasn't going to let anyone hurt her like that. And I liked that she helped out the girl her ex married to get out of that ugly situation.
*Small town life: the good and the bad. It was well-presented here. Brodie was in a weird situation. She was living with Drew because his father was best friends with her father. They were really penniless, but people thought of her as a rich girl. When her fortunes change, it was interesting to see how the town treated her.
What I didn't like:
*The over-dependence on Brodie's internal monologue drug down this story for me. I would have liked to see more interaction and dialogue between Brodie and Drew because they had good chemistry together. I realize the older HPs didn't really show the hero's VP very much, but I think Drew was much too interesting to spend so much time focused on Brodie's thoughts. More of Drew could have been conveyed through action, although the glimpses of his psyche were very tantalizing.
*That it took Brodie most of the book to figure out she wasn't in love with her ex, and that she loved Drew. I realize only a short time had passed, but I would have liked it better if there was a more gradual realization of how much Drew meant to Brodie.
Overall conclusion: After analyzing this book as I reviewed it, I think I will go ahead and bump this up to 4 stars. I think readers who enjoy the guardian/ward relationship theme will like this book.
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