by Anna Richland
Publication: October 13, 2014
Last year, I found His Road Home (2014) while searching for romance novels. I was never a fan of novellas until I discovered Bettie Sharpe. With her flowery writing, Sharpe showed me novellas can be as developed and well-written as full-length novels, and, sometimes, they can even be better. This is the case with Richland’s His Road Home. I continue to be thankful that I picked it up and have since read it multiple times. At slightly over a hundred pages, His Road Home contains what some full-length novels do not: a developed plot and rounded characters with chemistry.
It’s an uplifting story of a fake engagement that turns into a wholly unexpected romance for two individuals who, despite being from the same town, may otherwise not have given each other a second glance. Because Grace is different from the girls Rey usually dates, it makes her the ideal fiancé. It seems perfectly harmless because no one outside of the situation will know about it. Living and working in Seattle, Grace is unaware of her relationship status until her sister phones. It’s an interesting predicament when the whole country knows about your relationship before you do! It was pretty amusing as Grace tries to figure out how to break the news to people that she has no idea who Rey is.
When they meet, Rey is surprised to see his fiancé has traveled across the country to see him, while Grace is looking for answers as to why she is suddenly engaged to someone she doesn’t know. Although they meet in an unconventional way (apparently one-sided fake engagements aren’t as common as romance novels tell me they are…heh), there is a spark of attraction from both sides. Grace is unprepared and should be angrier at the situation he’s put her in, but she tries to be understanding. And Rey? Well, he has no reason to get mad at Grace, who takes his lie in strides. How can you not find the woman you threw into this situation attractive when she shows up to be by your side and stays to play the part? Grace is a sweet and patient person, and I adored her. She sees Rey through this mentally and physically taxing time ahead. Rey is resilient and has a sense of humor I liked–the cheesy kind. He realizes the best thing in his life may have happened due to one of the worst moments in his life.
The circumstances under which they initially meet might sound unrealistic (it’s a romance, please let me be), but the relatively uncomplicated way their relationship develops is one I enjoyed. Where I might read full-length novels that a lack of chemistry between leads, Grace and Rey had me invested within moments of their meeting. They go from strangers to lovers over several months through text messages and a road trip back to Washington. Richland packs so much into this novel that it feels longer than it is. It’s a very good thing here because I wanted more. There are no frills and fillers, and I loved nearly every moment of it. That’s one of the beauties of novellas, they’re short and don’t have time for nonsense.
It’s a near 5-star read for me. During each read, I’m tempted to give it that extra star, but when I get to the ending, I’m reminded why I’ve been stingy with that final star. The ending was just so-so, but it has started to grow on me. If you’re a fan of romance novels, this is a soothing and uplifting one that has the potential to become a cherished favorite; it’s certainly now one of mine.