Title: Homecoming by Shannon Stacey
Boys of Fall Series Book Three
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 303 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
The New York Times bestselling author of Defending Hearts returns to small-town New Hampshire where a substitute football coach and a guidance counselor tackle love.
They were the golden boys of fall: Stewart Mills High School’s legendary championship football team. Fourteen years later, they’re back to relive their glory, save the team—and find themselves again . . .
Sam Leavitt has returned home to Stewart Mills with one goal: to fill in for Coach McDonnell and lead the high school football team to the championship. He doesn’t have time for distractions or commitments—but he’s unable to resist falling for the sexy guidance counselor he shared a hot night with months ago.
Jen Cooper knows what she’s looking for long-term, and it’s not Sam—even though the night they shared was explosive. Now, with Sam back in town and working by her side, picking up where they left off is too great a temptation to resist. But before long their fun fling is looking like a future together. And as the championship approaches, Sam is faced with a big decision that will either break them apart—or help them find their way home.
Homecoming by Shannon Stacey is a heartwarming novel of redemption, forgiveness and love. Although this latest release is the third installment in the Boys of Fall series, it can be read as a standalone but I highly recommend the previous two books as well.
After beloved high school football Coach McDonnell suffers a heart attack, Sam Leavitt returns to Stewart Falls take over coaching duties until Coach gets the green light from his doctor to return to work. With a host of bad memories and unresolved issues stemming from his dysfunctional childhood, Sam does not mind helping out temporarily but he has no intention of moving back to town permanently. So he knows he has to maintain a healthy distance from the woman he had a very hot and unforgettable one night stand with the previous summer, guidance counselor Jen Cooper. His good intentions quickly fall by the wayside as their lives become entangled through their jobs and friends but their simmering attraction becomes too powerful to resist. Deciding there is no harm in indulging in a casual affair, Jen and Sam are both somewhat surprised when their no strings fling begins to look an awful lot like a real relationship. Will their deepening emotions have any effect on Sam’s plan to Stewart Falls when Coach returns to work?
Sam is a caring, compassionate man whose abusive childhood left an indelible mark on him. While he may have put his horrible memories out of his mind, he has never really dealt with his painful past. His strained relationship with his mom is a work in progress and he is trying very hard to forgive her for not doing more to protect him while he was growing up. Sam has mixed emotions about being back in Stewart Falls and while he really comes to enjoy coaching the football team and mentoring the players, he still has a difficult time letting go of the hurt and anger he still carries with him. After receiving an unexpected job opportunity, he begins rethinking his plans to return to Texas but he cannot see himself moving back to Stewart Falls. Sam comes up with a viable solution to this problem, but will Jen agree to his plan?
Jen cares deeply for the students she works with and she works tirelessly on their behalf to give them the opportunity to make a better life for themselves. Although her family no longer lives in Stewart Falls, she has strong ties to the community. Still nursing a little hurt and anger over the way Sam left town the previous summer, Jen resolves to stay away from him. When this plan quickly falls through, she refuses to entertain the possibility of giving in to her desire for him. Slowly but surely, she convinces herself she can handle a no strings fling and they soon embroiled in a heated affair. Although she readily admits she is in love with Sam, is Jen ready to do whatever it takes for them to be together?
With a sweet and steamy romance, a wonderful small town atmosphere and laugh out loud humor (the pumpkin babies and Gretchen’s emojis are hilarious), Homecoming is an endearing and heartfelt addition the Boys of Fall series. Jen and Sam are wonderful protagonists whose romance is believable but with some very real obstacles to overcome, their future is far from certain. This finely crafted novel of love and healing is sure to be a hit with old and new fans of Shannon Stacey.