Reviewed by Vennessa Ng
Leaving November by Deborah
"Deborah never fails to touch the heart with realistic characters and vivid settings."
As January’s icy winds pass through Clayburn, changes on the main street of the small Kansas town have folk abuzz.
What is happening to Ingrid Kenny’s popular café, and has Jackson Linder finally overcome his problems and returned to his gallery?
While her mother recuperates in a nursing home after suffering a stroke, Vienne Kenny decides the run-down café needs a new lease on life. Putting her shattered law career behind her, Vienne sets about introducing a touch of class to Clayburn. As she begins to transform the café into a tasteful coffee shop, she learns that she is not the only one returning home.
Fresh out of rehab, artist Jackson Linder slips back into Clayburn under the cover of night. While battling the remnants of his addiction, Jack throws himself into re-establishing his gallery and rebuilding friendships fractured by his past. Drawn to Vienne, he soon finds himself helping at the coffee shop, despite his aversion to the beverage.
Vienne can’t forget the childhood crush she had on Jack, and as she gets to know the man he has grown into, the old feelings re-emerge. Romance seems to be on the brink, but when Vienne learns of Jack’s past, memories of her life as a child of an alcoholic father cools the friendship faster than any wintry blast.
Will bitterness and anger continue to rule Vienne and extinguish a chance of happiness? Can Jack overcome the temptation burning within and lean completely on God for healing and restoration?
To find these answers, crack open Leaving November and lose yourself in yet another Deborah Raney classic.
Deborah never fails to touch the heart with realistic characters and vivid settings. Vienne, Jack, and Pete all jumped from the page and came to life as I turned page after page late into the night. I could picture myself walking the streets of Clayburn, visiting the Latte-dah, Jack’s gallery, or even Wren’s inn. Each character and place etched itself in my mind and heart, begging me visit and make new friends.
Vienne’s deep rooted bitterness is beautifully balanced with the genuine love and support she gives to her stroke victim mother. Even Jack, flawed as he is, has many redeeming qualities. Often when we encounter someone in our own lives who is struggling we forget to look beneath the surface to the real person. We can be blinded by their faults and not realize the true value they may hold. Leaving November is a gentle reminder to us all.
Although the second book in Deborah Raney’s Clayburn series, Leaving November is a standalone novel. I haven’t yet read Remember to Forget, the first Clayburn book, but could easily follow this story. The only fault I could find with the story was that it ended. I’ll be digging into Remember to Forget as I patiently await book three, Yesterday's Embers.
Vennessa Ng lives in New Zealand with her husband and three children. As an avid reader with a passion for Christian worldview fiction, she works to help authors improve their craft through her freelance editing service, Aotearoa Editorial Services (www.aotearoaeditorial.com), and helps publicize books and authors via her review site, Illuminating Fiction (www.illuminatingfiction.com). She has also reviewed for Focus On Fiction, Infuze Magazine, Novel Reviews, 1340 Magazine, and now TitleTrakk. In her spare time she pursues her own passion for writing and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.