No Place Like Home – Love in Seattle, written by Christina Butrum, is a sweet wholesome romance novel. The main character, Janelle Harper, makes arrangements with her boss to work from home for the summer and travels across the country to Seattle. Janelle’s mother and father had urged her to go into journalism, which had landed her a position in Cincinnati. But when a chance to travel came up for them, they expected her to run their coffee shop while they were away. Somewhat stereotypically, Janelle runs into a former college classmate in her hometown. Colin and she were at odds during college, but he’s certainly taken a liking to her since she left town. Now that she’s back he pursues a romantic relationship with her. Beyond that, he supports her dreams of opening a bakery -something her mother had been adamantly against. Will Janelle decide there’s really something for her in Seattle and that the cliche is true? Is there really No Place Like Home?
Butrum’s novel is very innocent and sweet, but it’s lacking in page-turning urgency. It’s never really clear what type of issue originally came between Janelle and Colin in college. Having a bigger and clearer problem between them would have led to more sparks. On a positive note, Janelle is portrayed mostly as a strong independent young woman. She’s willing to stand up to her mother and make decisions on her own. Yet, at times there seems to be contradiction within the story as to the relationship between Janelle and her mother. One minute there’s said to be best friends, but Janelle has always had to walk on egg shells around mother and she’s quite overbearing and not very supportive. This can lead to reader confusion. The dynamics between these two women could be fleshed out a bit more, but it would still need to be fludily interwoven with the angst Janelle feels towards Colin as those feelings shift to romantic tendencies. No Place Like Home has potential. It just needs a little more tension within the plot to keep readers excitedly turning pages.
Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.