Erryn reviews Homeward Bound (Pine Cove Book 3) by H.J. Welch (Published by the author on September 20, 2019, 328 pages). The audiobook was released on October 30, 2019, was narrated by Nick J. Russo and is 9hr and 55mins.
After Micha Perkins finds himself wrongly implicated in a crime, the last person he wants coming to his rescue is his secret crush, Swift, his older brother’s best friend. But when Micha returns to the town that never felt like home, he discovers Swift’s young daughter is in trouble as well. If Micha can help them both in any way, he knows he will.
Self-defense coach Swift Coal never realized he was a father until he gets custody of five-year-old Imogen and her cranky cat. His neat and tidy life is about to come crashing down, but to his surprise, Micha Perkins is there to save the day. He’s so damn good with kids, and just as cute as Swift remembers. When Micha moves in to help look after Imogen, Swift struggles to repress the feelings he’s kept hidden.
Micha’s always been a misfit, and Swift’s life was always orderly. Micha may have taken the fall to protect those more vulnerable than him, but who will save him when his past comes back to haunt him? Was Swift a fool to risk the safety of his daughter around a bad element like Micha? When their chaotic worlds collide, perhaps love and family are the middle ground they both need to become stronger together.
Book three in Pine Cove. Homeward Bound is a steamy stand-alone MM romance novel with a guaranteed HEA and absolutely no cliffhanger.
I’m enjoying my time in Pine Cove. Micha Perkins has had a run of bad luck. He clocked out of town as soon as he’d finished high school, afraid of revealing his truth. He went to Seattle and began exploring his sexuality. His fathers are gay, so there had to be compelling reasons why he didn’t feel comfortable sharing his sexuality. There are and they are later revealed. Man, did my heart ache for this kid. In Seattle he fell in with a bad crowd, and after barely escaping serious prison time, he’s come back to Pine Cove to try to start over. He’s working at his fathers’ diner and trying to keep his head down. To stay out of trouble.
Swift Coal has been living a good life. He’s a self-defence coach working at the local gym. He lives a very orderly life with everything in its place. Until his previously unknown five-year-old daughter and her very cranky cat come to live with him. Imogen’s mother withheld her existence from Swift for reasons that seem pretty flimsy, but sometimes we don’t know what’s in someone else’s heart. Imogen has had a rough go of it and being transplanted from her chaotic home to her father’s pristine one is a tough move for her. Her mother is ‘sick’, in rehab after a DUI arrest. Imogen only understands that her life is something over which she has little control.
Seeking out advice from those around him, Swift heads to the Perkins’ home, trying to create a list of everything he’ll need in order to care for a young girl. Imogen, meanwhile, meets Micha and they connect. Soon she’s calling him Uncle Micha and forming an attachment. When Swift needs help, he chooses to reach out to Micha. An interesting choice given that the young man is newly released from jail and has no children. Swift also has family in great numbers, but he turns to Micha. Micha sees this as an opportunity for redemption and a chance to spend more time with the man he’s crushed on since he was a young man. Swift was his brother’s best friend and despite the age gap, the two older boys often included Micha in their adventures. Whether it was hero worship or true attraction back then, those feelings have now developed into a full-fledge crush.
Parenting is never easy, but Micha’s ability to anticipate Imogen’s needs helps smooth the way for Swift. He asks Micha to hang out and help, which Micha is only happy to do. Sleeping on a couch down the hall from Swift is better than being in his old bedroom. Of course, it becomes an exercise in frustration because Swift is straight and Micha is in the closet gay.
Several conversations with family and friends have Swift on the verge of speaking aloud his truth – that he’s pretty sure he’s bi. Yes, he enjoys women, but he’s been fantasizing about men. Watching gay porn. (That seems pretty common in books I read these days.) His feelings for Micha solidify but he’s terrified of scaring away the younger man. Imogen’s needs have to take precedence and her attachment to Uncle Micha is strong. Eventually Swift decides to make a move. The gesture is not only welcomed, it’s reciprocated. Things quickly progress and although the physical is slower, the emotional is all-in from the beginning.
All would go well except Micha hasn’t quite escaped his past. When trouble comes knocking, his instinct is to protect those he loves by keeping silent and trying to deal with things himself. Almost too late he discovers that one of the best things about being in a relationship is having someone to share your burdens. Swift has broad shoulders and a heart with room for not only Imogen and the cranky cat, but also a friend’s younger brother who has captured his heart.
This was a great book. Heart-wrenching in its reality. How many times have I hidden a part of myself for fear of misunderstanding? Of not being accepted. Micha’s struggle was real for me. And I can only imagine what Swift went through, discovering he has a daughter. He also had to deal with the fact that Imogen’s mother was eventually going to be back in the picture and had to live with that uncertainty.
Nick J. Russo narrates this series and he’s such a great choice. He has distinctive voices for each character, bringing them to life. He makes it easy to revisit old friends and make new ones. There is at least one more book in this series and I can’t wait for it to come to audio. Loving these books.
10/10 Pots of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
HJ Welch is a contemporary MM romance author living in London with her husband and two balls of fluff that occasionally pretend to be cats. She began writing at an early age, later honing her craft online in the world of fanfiction on sites like Wattpad. Fifteen years and over a million words later, she sought out original MM novels to read. She never thought she would be any good at romance, but once she turned her hand to it she discovered she in fact adored it. By the end of 2016 she had written her first book of her own, and in 2017 she fulfilled her lifelong dream of becoming a fulltime author.
She also writes contemporary British MM romance as Helen Juliet.