AUTHOR: Laura Hodges Pool
PUBLISHER: Firefly Southern Fiction
When financier Penny Ruskin returns to Walhalla, South Carolina, she has one purpose—to settle her grandmother's estate and sell the Victorian house she grew up in. Not an easy task with the downturned economy. When she loses her job in the state capital, what other choice does she have but to stay in Walhalla until she finds work? She can only hope it won't take long.
Walhalla is Tommy McAllister's life. Between his family's feed-and-seed store and the bank he's vice president of, he's stretched thin trying to survive the recession. But when a girl he hasn't seen since high school breezes back into town, he's ready to push himself even further to help her feel at home—and convince her to stay. He reaches out to Penny, but the last thing she wants is to be trapped in a small town that holds painful memories—one dark secret in particular.
The town matchmaker and bank manager, Miss Betty, a motherless teen Emma who lives down the lane from Penny, and the church ladies of Walhalla's First Baptist add both heartwarming and challenging moments to Penny's life.
With the past dogging Penny's steps, dredging up painful memories she's tried to outrun, relatives threaten the future she has begun to hope for…But somewhere deep inside her, a spark of hope remains. Tommy isn't the only one praying for a miracle.
Disclaimer: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
I love small towns, and I love to read stories set in small towns. Quirky characters, a comforting ambiance, and easy friendships draw me into these appealing settings. A huge Victorian house, almost a character in itself, completes the perfection. Return to Walhalla is an exquisite example of my favorite kind of story, with the small-town setting enhancing its loveliness.
But Penny doesn’t agree. She’d much rather be in a big city. Her painful secret twists her memories of Walhalla and its charms into dark chasms of misery, and avoidance is her only defence. When she’s forced to return in order to settle her beloved grandmother’s estate, her faith is stretched as her plans for a quick settlement fall apart.
Tommy is a worthy hero with secrets of his own but a loving family and strong support system. His uncertainties endeared him to me, and I cheered him on in his quest to help Penny, one way or another.
I thoroughly enjoyed this sweet story of faith, love, and forgiveness. Its characters linger in my memory like a delicious, tall glass of sweet tea. Return to Walhalla earns five stars. Highly recommended.