Jack Dresden has returned to Devotion, Georgia, the small town where he grew up. He’s a former Special Ops soldier and a wounded POW. He’s home to recover from the torture he endured, but Jack’s not comfortable. Within hours, his past has caught up to him in the way of an ex girlfriend, Stacy, who invites him to lunch with her and her brother, Dillon Bluff. Jack and Dillion were once the best of friends until an incident ten years ago that changed that relationship forever.
Dillon is a photographer just home from an assignment in Tanzania. He came out after high school, and life as a gay man in a small town was rough on him. When Jack walks in to the diner, Dillon’s emotions run wild. Jack had been his best friend, but he was also his first love. Dillon never confessed his feelings because he was afraid of how Jack would treat him. However, an unfortunate incident at the diner makes Dillion realize his love for his former best friend hasn’t changed at all in the past decade.
Things come to a head and Jack comes running to Dillion. Jack can no longer fight his feelings and their love and passion is finally in the open. Now, the men must wrestle with the pain they’ve endured for years, or find out if that love and passion will heal them both.
I’m a sucker for stories about broken soldiers, so I grabbed Homecoming quickly. I was excited to read it, but I’m sad to say, I just didn’t connect with this novella at all. Jack and Dillion weren’t bad guys, but seeing as this isn’t very long, I feel as if I didn’t get the chance to know them. That is to say, I have facts about them, but I was missing their essence. I didn’t feel invested in their relationship.
Now, I did find the events surrounding Jack and Dillon and their reunion to be relatively realistic. Jack is suffering from PTSD and Dillon wants to help him. That makes perfect sense. Dillon, even though he’s a successful photographer, is still dealing with what it’s like to be gay in a small southern town. The same bullies he faced right after high school are still the bullies who make his life hell. With this, came another feeling of disconnect. To me, those bullies (and one in particular) are a bit of a stereotype. It was satisfying to see Dillon finally give him is comeuppance.
I don’t want to give anything away, but the incident that brings Jack into Dillon’s arms isn’t anything new…but that’s not necessarily a problem. I find things like this fascinating and sometimes all too real. Again, though, I felt like I was just looking through a window and not in the scene. I’d have loved to have seen more of this issue. Perhaps I’d have been a little more into the story.
I want to quickly mention the sex. The scene is smokin’ hot. I have to say this is the only time I got a real glimpse of the love between Jack and Dillon. Dillon is so tender and aware of Jack’s pain and confusion. Several times, he told Jack he wanted to take care of him. That was sweet and moving. Watching Jack let himself go and finally realizing who he is was emotional.
Here is where I want to talk about the author’s writing style. It felt a little choppy to me, and I’m not sure of the timeline of the story. When Jack returns, Georgia’s humidity was mentioned. Another scene had Dillon removing a sweaty t-shirt after having been out for a hike. Both of these scenes gave off a summer vibe, but within (what I gathered) two days, Jack is helping his mother hang a Happy New Year banner. I googled Georgia winters, and saw they were short and relatively mild, but not necessarily hot. This issue may just be a problem with me. Others may not be bothered by it at all, but I feel as if there was a jump in time, even if it wasn’t intended.
The ending wrapped up exactly how it should have. However, I felt as if there were some loose ends, particularly with Jack and his family. I think my real feeling is I’d have loved Homecoming if it had been longer with Jack and Dillon being more fleshed out, and especially what happened with them during their years apart. As it stands, I liked this one, but was a bit disappointed. It looks like this is the only book by Meredith Daniels, and if this is the case and it’s her first book, I see a lot of potential here. Homecoming is the first installment of an upcoming series. I will gladly read the next and any others after that.
I am going to cautiously recommend this one to fans of broken men and hurt/comfort stories. It could very well be the start of something good.