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Already Home    by Susan Mallery order for
Already Home
by Susan Mallery
Order:  USA  Can
Mira, 2011 (2011)
Paperback, CD, e-Book

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*   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

After Jenna Stevens' ten-year marriage and career as a trendy California sou chef falls apart, she heads home to Texas to find a new direction. On a whim, she signs a lease on a vacant building and decides to open a cooking store even though she has absolutely no idea how to run a business.

If not for her streetwise manager's help, Jenna's dream might have crashed and burned before it even got off the ground. But with Violet and her adoptive mother's determined assistance, customers are soon streaming in, to not only to buy cookware, but also learn Jenna's myriad cooking secrets.

Just when everything seems to be running smoothly, it all comes crashing down. Jenna's birth parents breeze into town hoping to connect with their long lost daughter. Serenity and Tom are former hippies turned proud owners of a successful organic winery in California. Even more shocking, Jenna learns she has two younger brothers.

Angry that her birth parents have suddenly forced themselves into her life, one that she's worked hard to rewrite, Jenna wants nothing more than to send them on their way. But her adoptive mother urges Jenna to give Serenity and Tom a chance to explain why they'd given her up - and why they waited thirty years before making contact with their firstborn.

Initially Already Home engages you, introducing Jenna and Violent as they try to make a go of the cooking store. As the story progresses however, Mallery piles on one complication after another, including those of various secondary characters whose problems could have been novels unto themselves. All of this extra baggage detracts from Jenna's various issues and her character growth. Ultimately, the situation that develops between Jenna and Serenity becomes overblown and unbelievable.

Mallery is a popular and prolific author who's written many enjoyable stories. Unfortunately, she's also written a few that just don't work for me. That's the case with Already Home. It starts well enough, but half way through the cast becomes unwieldy, with pages of redundant dialogue and too many plot threads and out-of-the-blue complications, some of which don't find a satisfactory or plausible resolution.

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