“Love can only be found through the act of loving.” – Paul Coelho
Title: You Can’t Go Home Again
Author: Michael Murphy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Blurb: In work and in love, life has taught seasoned police officer Jack that closeness only leads to pain.
But Jack is wracked with guilt when his rookie partner Kevin is shot during an undercover assignment and dies in his arms. Why didn’t he take the time to get to know the rookie a little?
At the funeral, Jack takes a liking to Kevin’s brother, Devin. But Jack knows making a connection can cause more hurt, and living on opposite coasts is an added obstacle.
With his brother dead, Devin feels a responsibility to Kevin’s pregnant widow, Marie. He packs up and moves east, only to have Marie, outraged that he’s put his life on hold, slam the door in his face. Devin turns to the only other person he knows in town. As much as it goes against his philosophies on life, Jack takes him in without hesitation.
Their tentative exploration into romance is interrupted when Devin is mistaken for his dead brother and taken captive. Just as Jack opens his heart, reality slams into him. But he can’t lose anyone else. More than the need to simply save a captive drives Jack to find Devin and bring him home.
Review: A dead partner killed before his very own eyes. A widow who discovers she is pregnant. A twin brother who is more forgiving than he should be. All these things surround Jack and change his life irrevocably. While undercover with a rookie partner he has trained, one false move leaves Jack’s partner, Kevin, dead in his arms. Jack insists on going along to inform Kevin’s wife, Marie, of her husband’s death. Thus begins a series of events that will lead Jack’s life to become increasingly entwined with Marie and Kevin’s identical twin brother, Devin. The three of them will slowly knit together to become a family, and neither a crazy mother-in-law nor a gun wielding drug lord will tear them apart.
You Can’t Go Home Again was a slow building love story that had some wonderful humor and even more heart wrenching sadness. The impact that one man’s death had on the three main characters was clear, and their shared grief made for a heartwarming tale. There was much to be said for the way in which the police force was depicted in this novel. The way in which they rallied around a fallen comrade was beautiful to read. The fact that no one on the force had difficulty with Jack being gay seemed a bit too ideal, but the way in which this story was written made it palpable and real.
Perhaps the one thing that I felt made this novel veer off path was the rather long time it took to establish itself. The funerals and the slow building relationship between Jack and Devin were realistic and well done to a point, until repetition began to leach its way into the story. Several times, I felt that the same thing was being said repeatedly. For instance, when the author was establishing that Devin was a writer, the idea that he was gifted with words came up over and over, to the point where I felt it was stalling the story—keeping it from moving forward and slowing the pace way too much. I felt this happened too frequently in the story, and wondered if a good editing may have solved some of the sense that the novel lurched along at times rather than flowed.
This, coupled with a rather strange plot twist thrown in at the end, made me feel that the story was a bit disjointed and lacked cohesiveness. The end was simply out there with no build in or even a mere mention of impending danger. So, when the event that shook Jack and Devin’s lives so thoroughly took place, I felt it was forced and simply there in order to give us a little action in an otherwise slow evolving story.
All in all, You Can’t Go Home Again by Michael Murphy was just a nice story. The pacing problems and occasional repetition made for some hard work when reading, but the characters and humor kept this novel afloat. If you are looking for a sweet romance, then this is the book for you.
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