Running Home by Christina Kirby

Running Home by Christina Kirby
Book 2 in the Warm Springs Trilogy
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (235 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Daisy

Small-town beauty queen Jenny Fillmore is a survivor. In the wake of having been kidnapped by a madman, she’s managed to put her life back together, complete with a successful career and a serious boyfriend. But, when her first love returns and hires her as his real estate agent, old wounds are torn open, making Jenny question whether or not she has the life she wants. It turns out broken hearts don’t heal so easily and old desires don’t always fade with time.

Professional baseball player Adam Hamilton didn’t expect a career-ending shoulder injury. Thrown a curveball in his prime, he returns home to Warm Springs and the one woman whose heart he broke to pursue his sports dream. But earning Jenny’s forgiveness won’t be easy. What he and Jenny once shared was real, but she’s moved on. With the new man in her life, time isn’t on Adam’s side.

Like the drama of sports and behind-the-scenes family life? This one is for you. Running Home follows the heartbreak which can happen when a man jumps to play professional baseball and leaves his old flame behind to pick up the pieces… but then, years later, comes back to claim her heart.

Adam is the male romantic interest. He is forceful but sweet, often doing his best to help out his friends. The female romantic interest, Jenny, has a need to prove herself in her career, and in her life. She needs to prove she has not been left by the wayside and is, in fact, doing something with her life. She also needs to prove that an alluded-to attack by a man who leaves her scarred has not stopped her from being independent, even if it has changed her taste in cars.

The chemistry between these two protagonists is electric. Jenny is drawn to Adam like he fills that piece of her which has been empty since he left, and their kisses are steamy, and melting.

Ms. Kirby has done a great job of picking a realistic, rural setting and setting up an initial battle of wills, but the pace of the book quite slow and is more literary romance than the usual fluff. It has a solid backbone and is underlaid by the disappointment of first love broken off. This was not a deal breaker for me, but it was not what I initially expected. Make sure you are in the mood for a leisurely romance for this tale, with plenty of background trips to shop for a friend’s wedding. These two protagonists do not have a romantic relationship in isolation and it is definitely not all about them.

In addition to the relatively slower pace, this book takes advantage of a conflict between Jenny and an ex-lover towards the last third of the book. I didn’t like how he suddenly became ten times more caustic towards Jenny than before. I felt it was too dramatic and an almost unbelievable turnaround for someone supposedly in love previously. I also felt Jenny’s refusal to listen to Adam’s explanations later on was a very childish reaction. I can see why she may have wanted to protect her heart, but it felt like a more contrived than natural reaction, used to add tension to the final will-they or won’t-they drama.

That said, the kisses between Adam and Jenny were not just steamy but boiled over in a quick romp and a longer exploration in the bedroom which left their previous romantic, adolescent encounters in the dust. The only downside to these trysts was that, for those of us who fancy a little more juice in the bedroom details, the petting stopped before or skimmed over the details of release, causing this novel to be somewhere between our sensual and spicy heat ratings.

In short, Running Home is a grown-up romance which follows characters who have grown into themselves and have things to prove, to themselves and their friends. In the end, they prove these things best together, after they’re quite done with blistering kisses, sultry looks and a creaking bed. Their friends and community are more than happy for them in a traditional childhood romance made good.

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