Home by Morning by Alexis Harrington

"Life is far too short to live with regret, and sigh over what might have been. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about. Don't let that happen to you."

Title - Home by Morning
Publication Date - December 24th 2011
Publisher - Montlake Romance 
Format - Kindle Edition 
Pages - 329

The blurb

October 1918: En route from New York to Seattle, Jessica Layton stops for a visit in her hometown of Powell Springs, Oregon, and comes face-to-face with Cole Braddock, her first and only love from years ago. Now Jessica is a highly accomplished clinical physician preparing for an exciting new job in Washington, and Cole is a successful horse breeder who is courting her sister Amy. Both are convinced they have moved beyond their youthful passion and the heartbreak it produced; nonetheless, they are grateful that Jessica's brief visit will leave little opportunity to rehash old wounds. But before Dr.Layton can leave town, Powell Springs is hit hard by the influenza epidemic ravaging the country. With no other doctors available, Jessica must remain in Oregon and tend to her friends and former neighbours. Her work brings her in constant contact with Cole, and with each passing day he finds it harder to convince himself that mild-tempered Amy can fill his heart as Jessica once did. Set against a gritty backdrop of World War I and the epidemic of 1918, Home by Morning is a raw, compelling story of betrayal, heartbreak, and redemption. 

Becca's thoughts

I love historical romance, especially when it is this good. I love being taken back in time to a world that was pulsing and moving way before I was born. I love reading dialogue that's written in a certain way, to fit in with the setting and time. I love reading about epidemics and wars (as awful as that sounds, it just interests me so much!) I love reading about people falling in love even though they're not deemed suitable. The author, Alexis Harrington, has done such a superb job of catching that moment in time with Home by Morning, I feel like I've just been dropped back into the 21st century. There is actually a prequel to Home by Morning titled Home by Nightfall , and I didn't realise this until I was more than halfway through the story, which I kinda kicked myself about. I'm hoping to read that one as soon as possible though, because it's sure to be amazing! 

I don't know why I purchased Home by Morning from Amazon UK but I just did. It may have been the price, it may have been the cover, it may have been the blurb, but most likely, it was probably all of those things mixed together. It's been a while since I dipped into this genre and this was the perfect story to have my appetite satisfied. Everything about it was perfectly written; from the characters dialogue to the details of the influenza that take over the people of Powell Springs. I have never read anything by Alexis Harrington before, but now, I plan to read the majority of her books if this is anything to go by. 

The characters truly come to life in this story, and Alexis Harrington does a fantastic job of making them seem crazily real. Jessica Layton is the woman who once had Cole Braddock's heart, and still does might I add. When she returns to Powell Springs, Cole is clearly overwhelmed by all of the old, brushed-under-the-rug feelings that quickly begin to resurface. Jessica was a strong-willed character, and her determination and kindness really shines through when she's needed by her old town folk. The fact that the townspeople found it unbelievable that she was a female physician really made me giggle, and it dragged you right back to the time when this would have been the way people actually thought. Jessica was very intriguing  to read about. There was constantly a hint to something that had ruined the previous relationship that she and Cole once had, and I felt like ripping my own hair out, dying to know what this "something" had been. I loved her, she took control over crazy situations, never lost her head and was polite, in an old fashioned kinda' way. When she decides to stay on for a longer amount of time in Powell Springs, that's when you know she's not the kind of person to turn her back when people need her, and I admired her for this. 

Cole Braddock is a bit of a hottie if I do say so myself.He's moody, yet protective and hard-working. The way he reacts when he sees Jessica for the first time after so many years, you can totally tell that he has still got the hots for her. This guy was awesome. He had muscles, he worked with horses and he knew what he wanted. Quite clearly, that was Jessica. Somehow, he always managed to be there whenever Jessica found herself in some sort of trouble, and obviously acting like her hero, he made me swoon even more. With his dark hair and leather apron... I just... I just can't carry on. I'm sure you get what I'm trying to say. Anyhow, he was brilliant, added a total load of sexy, brooding male to the story, and made it just that little bit more enjoyable ;)

Next, I just want to say a little something about Jessica's sister, Amy. I didn't like her. Not one bit. Okay, that's a lie. I liked her a teeny, tiny bit when she was first introduced to the story. She was quite cute, a little annoying in that perfect, bouncy annoying female way. But that teeny, tiny bit of liking her quickly burned to a crisp when I realised that she was courting Cole. I mean really, your sister's ex?!? She tries to act all innocent and sweet and adorable, but she's totally not. There's a whole lot of story behind this girl, so keep your eyes peeled. I took an instant dislike to this girl. Not sure if that was the author's intention. If not, I apologise Alexis, but I was team Jess the whole way through ;)

The story itself is written in dual point of view, so I was able to read everything from Cole's perspective as well as Jessica's, which was fantastic! I LOVE dual point of view, it always allows you to feel as though you know absolutely everything that is going on, from both sides. The chemistry and attraction between these two characters was sizzling! I adored it. I love it even more when there has already been a history between two people, and then they're re-united and it is STILL there! It was exciting, it made my heart beat a little bit faster and I was gripped to this story! The detail that Alexis goes into whilst describing the symptoms and effects of the influenza is astonishing and I felt like I was in a history lesson. She brought everything to life for me; the bluish tinge to the lips, the delirium, the coughing and hacking. Just - incredible.

Not only was it the influenza that really intrigued me, but whilst the story in Powell Springs progresses, so does Riley's life (Cole's brother) whilst fighting in WWI. Every detail, including the muddy trenches and the awful conditions, was amazingly touched upon. I honestly couldn't believe how well put together her settings were. I could feel the rain, the mud squelching, the weight of a gun slung on my shoulder. Just omgomgomg!!!!!

Home by Morning is a beautifully written story, bringing together all of the horrific events that overtook the lives of regular people during that time. It has everything a historical romance reader could want - detailed settings, interesting characters and based upon real events. I absolutely ADORED this story, and I cannot wait to read the prequel. I'm giving Home by Morning a worthy rating of 10/10. I would not have changed a single thing about it, and I'd recommend it to EVERYONE. A huge congratulations to Alexis Harrington - it was an absolute pleasure to read and I am so thankful for the hard work that you must have put into this book. It is sensational, and I would gladly read this again and again, just to relive the romance that blossoms between Cole and Jessica. 

Find out more about Alexis Harrington

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