A few months ago, I had the privilege of reviewing Dan Walsh's debut novel, The Unfinished Gift. I say "privilege" because that's exactly what it was. I absolutely adored the book (read my review HERE).
When Dan asked if I'd like to review The Homecoming, the sequel to The Unfinished Gift, I didn't even think twice. Before I get into my thoughts about The Homecoming, here is a brief blurb about the story:
No sooner is Shawn Collins home from the fighting in Europe than he's called upon to serve his country as a war hero on a USO bond tour. Others might jump at the chance to travel all around the country with attractive Hollywood starlets. But not Shawn. He just wants to stay home with his son Patrick, his aging father and to grieve the loss of his wife in private. When Shawn asks Katherine Townsend, Patrick's former social worker, to be Patrick's nanny while he's on the road, he has no idea how this decision will impact his life. Could it be the key to his future happiness and the mending of his heart? Or will the war once again threaten his chances for a new start?
As much as I loved The Unfinished Gift, this one is even better, in my opinion. The author delves deeper into each character and I felt more connected to and invested in their growth.
Shawn is the main character this time around and I truly enjoyed getting to know him more and traveling along with him not only on his War Bond tour but on his spiritual journey, as well. Shawn's emotions as he deals with his grief over losing his wife, his struggle with having to leave his son Patrick again, renewing his broken relationship with his ailing father, and processing his growing attraction to Katherine, were touching and real.
Speaking of the romance factor...this had to have been the toughest aspects of the novel to craft, as Shawn's wife only recently died. But the romance between Shawn and Katherine was not forced at all. Although the reader anticipates the ending, there are plenty of pleasant surprises along the way, to both prevent and encourage their relationship.
For World War II history fans, there's a lot to love about this book. The author clearly did his research and every detail is integrated expertly throughout the story. The harsh reality of war is portrayed well and there is even a bit of suspenseful action as Shawn retells the story of his last days as a fighter pilot and later in the story as the characters experience the effects of the war in a big way.
All in all, with Shawn's challenges, Katherine's and Patrick's endearing Nanny/child relationship and Shawn's father's softening heart towards his son and grandson, you can't help but root for this family. When I came to the last page, I was happy with the ending but sad to be leaving these characters behind. I have a feeling they'll stick with me for a long time to come. Definitely another one for the keepsake shelf.
Eagerly awaiting Dan's next book!
*Thanks to Revell for providing me with a copy of this book to review.
Dan Walsh is the author of The Unfinished Gift and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. He is a pastor and lives with his family in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel.
Visit his website at www.danwalshbooks.com