Hard Road Home by L.A. Dopson

Hard Road Home

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A chance encounter leads to an unexpected connection for a young receptionist and a reserved trucker in this contemporary romance.

Amanda Swenson’s life is primarily defined by the expectations of her family and the demands of her job as a receptionist for a small medical practice in western North Dakota. Shy and introverted, she’d like to be more confident and assertive, particularly at work. Her mother wants her to meet people and start dating, but she’s had little success with relationships. Her luck begins to change the night her older brother, Mark, invites her to dinner. Mark, an oil company employee, brings along a friend, trucker Clayton Sloan from Kansas. She is immediately drawn to Clayton, who’s friendly but reticent (“Amanda had never met anyone from Kansas. She began to appreciate the state in a whole new way….When she felt herself leaning toward him like a daisy to the sun, she straightened up immediately”). Clayton is not looking for love. A tragedy and untenable bank loan have threatened the family farm. Determined to help his parents save it, his sole focus is earning enough money to pay off the loan and launch an organic wheat venture. He’s attracted to Amanda but feels he has nothing to offer her. Despite his reservations, a relationship slowly blossoms that raises Amanda’s confidence and opens Clayton’s heart to the possibility of love. Dopson’s (The Light at the End of the World, 2002, etc.) novel successfully combines the sensitivity and insight of a character study with a slow-burning, provocative romance. The exceptionally well-developed protagonists are bolstered by realistic settings and a dynamic and multilayered supporting cast. The strongest elements of the story are the leads, Clayton and Amanda. Their situations are relatable thanks to Dopson’s carefully crafted prose and naturalistic dialogue. While Clayton and Amanda’s relationship anchors the story, the secondary characters are more than just set decoration; they are equally vital parts of the narrative. Two of the most compelling supporting players are Mark and his long-term girlfriend, Jessica. The Bakken oil boom in North Dakota is vividly rendered and allows the author the opportunity to explore the effect the long hours and dangerous work conditions have on individuals and families.

A provocative and sensitive portrait of love developing in the most unexpected of places.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-9712123-5-0
Page count: 426pp
Publisher: Angelfire Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2016


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