Thursday, May 31, 2012

After All by Deborah Raney

In this, the last of the Hanover Falls novels, it has been eighteen months since the homeless shelter fire that killed five people. One of those killed was Dave, the husband of Susan, shelter operator. She is struggling to keep the shelter open. Volunteers are becoming harder to find and contributions are on the decline.
Then Davey, their younger son, shows up. He has quit college, quit his job and returned home. It doesn't take long for Susan to be upset with his behavior. When she gives him an ultimatum, he reveals the source of his pain. He had seen his dad and a woman in Springfield, together, all over each other. Susan is shocked as she faces the painful reality that her husband was having an affair.
Susan finds some support from Pete, the fire chief. The two explore getting to know each other a bit better.
But Susan's troubles continue as Zeke, a homeless man living in the shelter at the time of the fire, returns to Hanover Falls. His police record reveals him as a violent man. Is he out to harm Susan? When a fire is spotted on Susan's property, is Zeke to blame?
Susan is bewildered as the local newspaper carries a story making it look like the entire community is against Susan and her homeless shelter. Yet she knows this shelter is what God wants her to do.

This novel is a combination of romance and mild mystery. Susan and Pete begin to feel the spark between them and it is rewarding to see how they explore their feelings in an adult and responsible way. It is also good to see Pete struggle with his anger against God. Pete goes off fishing by himself but soon finds out that God uses that solitary time to get his attention and slowly draw him back.
The mystery aspect of this final novel in the series is mild. One gets the impression there is still something uncovered regarding the months ago fire. And there is a surprising revelation at the end of the book. But, in general, the story is about Susan and Pete and their attempts to move beyond the deadly fire.
It is also good to see Davey, so hurt by his father's traitorous acts, finally get his life straightened out. That Pete would have a hand in that gives one hope for Susan, Davey, and Pete and their future.
While not action packed, this is a fitting conclusion to all the troubles in Hanover Falls. The “bad” person is finally revealed and the “good” guys look forward to a better future.

Deborah Raney is the award winning author of several novels. Her Beneath a Southern Sky won the RITA award. Her A Vow to Cherish was made into a World Wide Pictures film. She is known for her sensitive portrayal of family struggles and relationships. She has also written nonfiction books and articles and is a frequent speaker at women's retreats and writers' conferences. She and her family live in Kansas.

Howard Books (a division of Simon & Schuster), 355 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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