Reading Called Home: Two Hearts Answer by Gloria Schumann was like reading two different books.
I would liken the first 150 pages to a Harlequin American Romance and the last 200 pages to a Harlequin Intrigue, albeit with an end product that seemed to be less finished than those from the publishing giant that is Harlequin.
As the story begins, Emma is in the process of trying to help her mother save the farm she grew up on. Because her father took off when she was young, her brother was killed in an accident, and her mother is getting older, Emma is needed to help maintain and grow the farm so her family doesn't lose it.
Within a few pages, David literally bursts into Emma’s life. With a tornado on the horizon, David needs to seek immediate shelter, and Emma’s farmhouse is it.
Immediately, the two have something in common: They’ve both recently returned home to small-town Brooks, Wisc. David came from New York, where he was a best-selling author, while Emma left her job as an elementary- and middle-school teacher to help her mother.
Immediately, David is taken with Emma, though I really can’t tell why. Emma has an independent and determined streak that comes off as mean and arrogant. At parts of the book, it’s difficult to identify with the heroine. Until the very end, Emma continues to waffle on David’s presence in her life while putting up walls and pushing him away.
David, however, is really sweet, especially after Emma is shot while working at the local bookstore. And when strange things begin to happen wherever Emma goes, David is there to protect and help her out, even though she repeatedly tries to refuse his assistance.
When the strange things and crimes begin to occur is when the story makes the big shift from American Romance style to Intrigue style. Truthfully, the first half of the book is a little slow paced, but if you hang on for the second half of the book, you will find that the story picks up and moves much more quickly.
I will say that I enjoyed the second half of the novel much more than the first, even though it at times still had me scratching my head. A lot of the crime scenes seem out-of-place and just simply don’t ring true, and when Emma does finally confront the perpetrator, the climatic scene is simply too short.
In addition, the falling action of the book doesn’t tie up all of the lose strings. As a reader, I was never super clear on how or if Emma saved the farm, though (SPOILER ALERT) I think she and David agreed that he would help, as he bought a piece of Emma’s land. Also, the protagonist left the numbers 1002 wherever he committed a crime, and I never found out what the heck 1002 meant.
Despite the criticisms I’ve presented, Called Home: Two Hearts Answer was more meh than bad. Portions of the book certainly displayed Schumann’s talent and potential as an author. This was her first novel and I definitely look forward to more of her work in the future, as I truly believe each book will be better than the last.
Title: Called Home: Two Hearts Answer | By: Gloria Schumann | Publisher: Savant, 2010 | RLB Grade: C- | Find it on Amazon: Called Home: Two Hearts Answer
I received a free review copy from Gloria Schumann in exchange for a review of Called Home.
Here's the trailer for the book: