Book Name: The Family Journal
Series: [Standalone] Book N/A
Author: Carolyn Brown
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle
Genre: Romance, Fiction, Contemporary
Start Date: 07.02.2020
End Date: 07.08.2020
This is Carolyn Brown’s 100th book! Whopping 100! That’s amazing! Congratulations to Carolyn 🥳
Link to Book’s Goodreads Page: >HERE<
At the end of her rope, single mom Lily Anderson is determined to move her rebellious children in the right direction. That means taking away their cell phones, tablets, and computers—at least temporarily—and moving to the house where Lily grew up in the rural town of Comfort, Texas. But Lily has a bigger challenge than two sulking teens.
The house comes with Mack Cooper, high school teacher and handsome longtime renter. The arrangement: just housemates. But Mack’s devoted attention to the kids starts to warm Lily’s resistant heart. Then Lily finds an old leather-bound book in which five generations of her female ancestors shared their struggles and dreams. To Lily, it’s a bracing reminder about the importance of family…and love.
Now it’s time for Lily to add an adventurous new chapter to the cherished family journal—by embracing a fresh start and taking a chance on a man who could make her house a home.
I usually don’t go for romance books, but I only realized it was romance after I’d purchased the book; a big oops on my part…There was implied sexual content of course, but nothing more than a good kiss on the cheeks or lips was actually written out for the readers to read. For that, I was so very glad. However, it was my fault for not reading properly about the genre and so I just stuck with it. How bad could it be? (Turned out to be a pretty good book that I semi-flew through).
Lily is a mother who has been divorced for a good few years now; her husband having admitted to cheating on her and leaving for a much richer woman, leaving her with her two kids, Holly and Braden. When she discovers fourteen year old Holly with weed and twelve year old Braden with alcohol, she’s decided that enough was enough and decided to move the three of them back to her childhood home in Comfort, Texas, a small community with a population of a little more than three thousand. Along with the move, she confiscates her kids’ electronics…all of them; computers, tablets, phones…
Holding steadfast to her resolve in making a change in her family, she continues with the move as her kids try to negotiate anything to keep them in the city. Nothing was going to make her budge on her decision, not this time. In the years after her divorce, she had began to drown herself in her work and left no time to her children. The combined effects of both the lack of proper family time and the divorce resulted in causing her children to drift apart and become rebellious. This time, she knew that she needed to make a change, and her decision better be solid; no puppy eyes would be changing her mind.
The house that she grew up in comes with Mack Cooper, someone she knew back in her own school days, now her tenant; a school teacher himself with forty goats living in the yard. The arrangement was to remain as friendly associates, a roommate relationship. He gets to keep living in a home that allows him to raise his goats, and she gets to use her house again. They will share the living room and kitchen only when they needed the use of them. With the agreement solid, Lily moves the family back home to get away from the influences of the city.
If I had to describe the book in one word it would be fluffy (heartwarming too). There were ups and downs and the book writes out to be incredibly predictable, but I enjoyed it. There were parts that made me tear up and once the water-work starts going, there’s no turning back. Mack and Lily just fits each other like the perfect puzzle piece. They’re compatible, there’s chemistry between them, each have personal trust issues that stem from the trauma of having to deal with specific people in their lives, and each have baggage they carry.
Lily doesn’t trust herself in another relationship because what if another man like her cheating ex-husband comes by and ruins the little trust and hope she had left? Someone close to Mack had stolen his previous girlfriends not once, but twice! He’s adamant in not getting himself into another relationship, just like Lily, because what’s the point if that someone is going to just stroll back in and steal his girlfriend with his charms and good looks…again!
But as they begin to live under and share the same roof, Lily and Mack begin to gravitate towards each other. Mack, being a vo-ag (vocational agriculture) teacher, is fantastic with Lily’s kids and bonds with her son, who has grown quite attached to the herd of goats outside. While her daughter is a bit more to handle, even Holly begins to settle in to the new rural lifestyle with new friends of her own and even gets along well with Lily’s childhood friends.
The house that Lily resides in now is her childhood home that once belonged to her mother, now deceased. When she finally has the courage to start going through her mother’s things, she finds an old journal that, to her surprise, belongs to the women in her family…spanning across many many years with the first entry starting in June 1862!
With the journal, Lily begins a journey of love and the importance of family. Through the ancient book, she begins to find parallels to her current life as she shares the struggles, hardships, happiness, and even dreams of her ancestors. As she discovers more about herself, she begins to share the journal with her daughter, whom she would love to pass the journal onto one day, and the two’s relationship begins to heal.
It’s a heartwarming story that makes you cry a little. Her kids are at a rebellious stage in their lives and the divorce only catapulted them further away from her; their words constantly laced with anger or I should’ve tried harder to convince dad to move in with him and the likes of such. But with the introduction of the journal, she begins to bond closer to her children, and with Mack, both their hearts begin to thaw as they learn to work through their past problems and learn to love again.
The book is very Christian centric, as well, with many of the scenes taking place at church or mentions of choir practice and Sunday schools. Macks’ old friend is the preacher of this tiny town’s church and it’s these weekends, Sundays especially, whose scenes are the primary focus with most of the weekdays somewhat zipping by (could be me though).
It’s a very sweet book with lots of sparks flying at every touch they make, accident or not. The “good” characters are all like-able and the “villains” are all very detestable. I enjoyed how everybody seems to have their own comfort groups that mingle well with each other, small town style. Mack knows of the old aloof woman at church, as does Lily and her friends. Holly occasionally gets to hang out with her mother’s friends and gets to hang out with that old woman as well. Everyone knows everyone (and everyone knows secrets in half a heart beat). There’s a sense of eye-rolling small town rumors that is always flying around, though most are generally harmless.
All in all, it’s a very sweet and heartwarming book. I loved the parts where Lily and Mack helped each other through their pasts, even before their relationship began to kindle (did you see what I did there 👀?). Mack is the fantastic father figure that Holly and Braden just needed in their lives. Even from the start, you get a feeling that they were all just meant to be together.
I didn’t expect to power through the book as fast as I did. It flows well and reads well; an exceptional page-turning book. I had read pieces of the first few chapters during work breaks and after work, but then managed to just blow through a good 200 pages in one go as the middle began to pick up.
Lovely read with a beautiful ending: 4⭐️