The Road Home (Christina Berry)

The Road Home is the second novel in the Lost in Austin series by Christina Berry.
Finished on: 26.9.2021
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give Away.]
[Here’s my review of the first novel in the series.]

Content Note: rape (mentioned), miscarriage (mentioned)

Plot:
Jake has always been a ladies’ man, never the type to settle with anyone. It fits his lifestyle as the singer of a rock band, and it fits him, personally. But when his best friend Ari gets into an accident and ends up in the hospital, Jake is jolted from his non-committed life and has to confront the time another accident took his home away from him. Is it any wonder that he tries to find a bit of a distraction with Nicole, aka Arson Nic, abrasive roller derby queen? Before Jake can really decide whether Nicole is more than a distraction, he gets the once in a lifetime chance to go on tour, though – and that tour not only makes him think long and hard about where his home is, but also brings him to the Cherokee reservation where he grew up.

I was very pleasantly surprised by Up for Air, the first novel in the series, so I was really looking forward to The Road Home – and I was not disappointed. It’s a thoughtful book that lets Jake grow beautifully, and it’s also a sweet romance that I very much enjoyed.

The book cover showing a shirtless Native Americam man with long braids holding a microphone.

As I mentioned in my review of Up for Air, I was a little worried about how that novel handled Jake’s Native American/Cherokee background. But it was not Jake’s book and knowing that he would get his own book and that Berry herself is also Cherokee gave me the trust to look forward to his story here. And this time, I have no qualms at all. The way Jake slowly finds his way back to his roots as part of the process of putting down roots of his own was beautifully handled. And, speaking as a white European who doesn’t know a lot about it, it felt realistic and like probably many Native Americans can relate to his experiences.

Generally, the novel really knows how to work a theme. Jake is not only uprooted from his Cherokee family and heritage, he is also uprooted from his second family through the events of Up for Air, he is uprooted from going on tour and he never put down roots romantically either. And now it is his time that he has to figure out if, where and how he wants to find a home.

Nicole, too, has had that experience of not belonging anywhere, although she already managed to find a very stable family in her roller derby colleagues. But her feeling of not belonging runs so deep, she doesn’t even realize that she already belongs somewhere – and that maybe she and Jake also belong together. While the book pays less attention to her than to Jake, they both share the same themes and Nicole is a fully rounded character as well.

Their romance really is very sweet. It starts off rather steamy (though my impression of this book was that it was way less steamy than Up for Air), but then develops into something fragile and soft that I really loved. That being said, the almost magical happy end was maybe a tad too much for me and left me with a queasy feeling: [SPOILER] Nicole thinks she’s infertile and the realizes that she is pregnant after all. It left me feeling like the romance wouldn’t have been complete without a baby and Nicole wouldn’t have been complete without a magical cure, and both of those things are icky. [/SPOILER]

But other than that, The Road Home is a quick read, a cute romance and simply a lovely book.

Summarizing: wonderful, looking forward to the next book!

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