|Part of the Canyon Country series, A Place to Call Home is one of those stories where you wish the two main characters would catch on just a little quicker to the fact they are in love. They beat around the bush just a tad too long, but the story is basically enjoyable all the same.
Zia Peters has learned not to trust – first her father ran off when she was just four and then her boyfriend left her alone and pregnant when she was 18. While her mother was warm and caring, Zia resented that she found romance and love with Jeff Aquilon who came with a family. Rather than get attached to the family, Zia kept isolating herself. Now she feels sorry that she did, but her instincts are still strong and resistant to people.
Jeremy Aquilon was one of those kids who came with Jeff. He was Jeff’s nephew who Jeff took in when he was alone and needed a home. His two younger cousins were also part of that family. He was just a year younger than Zia and just couldn’t understand why she didn’t accept his friendship back then. He did help her out when she had a miscarriage in college and was all alone. But lately, despite the fact that she is beautiful and he feels some attraction, he doesn’t know what to do with her.
Jeremy is a successful project manager with the Idaho Department of Transportation. He is overseeing several projects in his district, including building a bridge over a deep ravine and making sure roads are kept clear in the Canyon areas. Zia is an educator and just took a job with the local school district to implement a special project. Since they live close, they figure they will see each other. But they are uncomfortable around each other at times because of the attraction they feel but are adamantly denying. When Zia’s mother gets sick and they share a kiss in a moment of vulnerability, there is more to deny and shy away from.
Zia moves into Jeremy’s spare bedroom when school contract is rescinded due to a mix-up in funding. With her limited finances, she can’t afford a house to rent. Ultimately, she has to agree to work part-time in Jeremy’s site office while his secretary is on maternity leave. Sparks fly, yet denials continue. They must both resolve their trust issues to make a future.
This tale is about 250 pages - about 50 pages too long. They make love and they still deny their feelings. Zia has issues and they don’t seem to be easily resolved, yet there is nothing earth shattering…just her own insecurities. There is a perverted caller thrown in for some reason, but it only added to the feeling that the author needed something to stretch the tale. The ending seems contrived.
Despite that, I liked the couple when they were together. They could laugh and tease and seemed to find some common ground. Zia is smart for the majority of the story and has gumption that has helped her make something of herself. Jeremy is likable, although his past is not really explored, leaving one wondering why he is 33 and unmarried. The sexual tension is at times hot and at other times, just there.
Overall, I liked the couple and enjoyed their romance. Sadly, there is a lot of contrivance and too little depth to make A Place to Call Home more than an acceptable read.