by Nina Arquiza

THE STORY

Jules Coronado has been away from her hometown for almost a decade but when an intruder breaks in to her childhood home, she finds herself coming back. Changes evidently took place in her small town, including her childhood best friend’s younger brother, Kip – now tall, slightly scruffed, all grown up and caught climbing into their garden wall.

Kip Villamor has a mission and despite Jules’ doubts, they team up: going on fieldtrips, tackling unsuspecting men, and trespassing offices to dig up dirt. But Jules has secrets of her own, one that might be exposed – unless she keeps her walls up. But climbing walls are Kip’s forte, remember?

Will her secrets keep her on his side, or will it force her to disappear again? Read reviews: Goodreads

WHAT I LIKED

I have a weakness for coming home stories that feature leads who have grown up, and the party that has come home doesn’t quite know how to deal with the grown-up version. The Hometown Hazard fits that to a tee! When Juliana receives a call from her parents informing her there’d been a break-in at her childhood home, she goes back, if only to see that her parents are all right. What she doesn’t quite expect is to see Kip all grown up, throwing his charm around, and basically dazzling her. (Yes, dazzle.)

Juliana is also a great heroine, but not without her demons. There’s a reason she’s stayed away for so long, and why “home” hasn’t exactly felt like that in a long time. She keeps people at a distance, but to those she does let in, she is loyal. Kip, while younger (just by 48 months; he kept track), is the perfect complement to Juliana. He’s impulsive and spontaneous, whereas Juliana thinks everything through before acting on it.

There are also great friendships here, even with estranged childhood best friend Caty. There is nothing that endears me more to a book than great, empowering friendships. There are plot twists in this book as well – I thought Dawn Lanuza did a good job in the pacing of the unfolding of the mystery. It didn’t drag and it didn’t overshare either.

HOWEVER…

The one thing that kept me from fully enjoying this were the verb tenses. It would switch between present and past tense, and it would jar me from the story because I’d go back and read the previous sentence or paragraph. At one point I was mentally correcting “has” into “had.” Maybe I’m not just used to this kind of writing style, but it distracted me from the story a bit.

Another thing that niggled at the back of my mind while reading was that there wasn’t a specific location to the story. Sure, there’s the city, there’s the hometown, but they all remain nameless. I was hoping to see something local, since this is a book by a local author. I suppose that could be an advantage—it could be set anywhere, and not just limited to specific places.

tl;dr

The Hometown Hazard was a pleasant surprise—it has a plot that moves along briskly, a mystery that keeps you turning pages, secrets that are waiting to be exposed, and yes (a resounding yes on my part), a believable romance. While I nitpick on some aspects of the book, this is still a great read. Perfect for a weekend relaxing, or reading in-between work or school. ☁

Bookbed received an ebook from the  author in exchange for an honest review. Read our Review Policy here.
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