THE ROAD HOME
By Christina Berry
There are few genres more tightly bound to a series of fan-pleasing rules than that of romance. There obviously needs to be a pair of characters embroiled in a mutual attraction, and one way or another, fans expect some version of ‘happily ever after.’ Of course, obstacles and backstory aid in filling the gaps between those requisite ‘love’ scenes, but at the end of the day, a romance novel succeeds or fails on the strength of its protagonists. Christina Berry’s THE ROAD HOME not only checks all the boxes, it also pushes back on genre tropes, and in the process, delivers a refreshing take on a well-tread template.
Jake Sixkiller has long enjoyed the fruits of his musician lifestyle. At first glance, the frontman for one of Autin’s hottest bands might appear to be a catch, but Jake wants nothing to do with commitment–as far as he’s concerned, a one-night stand is one night too many. But Jake’s charmed life is thrown an unexpected curve when a close friend winds up in the hospital, an event that stirs up a sea of traumatic memories. Beside himself with worry, Jake throws himself into an intimate relationship following a chance meeting with a feisty roller derby diva named ‘Arson Nic.’ Nicole is unlike anyone Jake has ever known, and for the first time in his life, he is smitten.
While the initial connection between Jake and Nicole is purely physical, the two begin to peel back their respective layers, ultimately sifting through their respective piles of emotional baggage. What follows is a passionate, messy love affair, one where Jake and Nicole’s respective worlds are constantly at odds with their mutual future. Nicole has trouble accepting that Jake isn’t too good to be true, and Jake has an unexpected career opportunity that threatens to undercut his budding relationship. What follows is a brooding, angst-riddled romance featuring loads of steamy passages and an impressive amount of character development.
From the start, THE ROAD HOME challenges convention and preconceptions. With chapters broken up into a series of days chronicling two months in 2005, the story just oozes atmosphere from the not-so-distant past. And rather than presenting a cookie-cutter heartthrob, Jake is a flawed, troubled, deeply nuanced protagonist with far more going on upstairs than his friends will ever know. A meaningful exploration of Jake’s Native American heritage, in particular, adds an element of authenticity that is rarely found in romance novels. Add to that his musician background (Berry captures the emotional highs and lows that come with the ‘gigging’ band lifestyle), and you have a formula that works on multiple levels.
Still, for all of its strengths, THE ROAD HOME is somewhat challenged by a meandering plot, a redundancy-plagued second act, and some jarring changes of pace–all flaws that are easily excused when considering the potent and very real relationship that exists at the core of this novel. It also bears mentioning that THE ROAD HOME is technically the second installment to Berry’s ongoing Lost in Austin series, but the book is so well-developed it easily works as a standalone work.
Driven by a pair of nuanced protagonists teeming with authenticity, THE ROAD HOME is a romance novel with true cross-over potential that easily side-steps any hint of ‘guilty-pleasure’ status.
~James Weiskittel for IndieReader
Black Rose Writing
THE ROAD HOME
By Christina Berry
THE ROAD HOME, Book 2 in Christina Berry’s sexy romance Lost in Austin series, focuses on Jake Sixkiller, a musician whose favorite hobby is sex. After his best friend is seriously injured in a car accident, he has to track down his friend’s new lover via the lover’s ex-lover, Nicole, a roller derby pro. The attraction flares between Jake and Nicole, and they both take full advantage. When Jake has the opportunity of a lifetime to tour with a headline band, he has to face his past in order to build his future. Featuring exceptionally well-written sex scenes, music and roller derby sequences.