Cover Image: Coming Home

Coming Home

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Small town, second chance, firefighter, single mom, army vet, even a bit of forced proximity as Chelsea and Anderson have to spend time together at the senior center. I love small town romance, especially when the story is set in a town as charming as Woodland Park. The writing is descriptive and made it easy to picture this little town in my mind as I read. Then there are the characters, who feel so real they practically leap off the page. I can easily imagine running into these people at the grocery store or coffee shop or even Granger's Last Stand. It's a clean romance with a focus on forgiveness and moving forward. The whole story is engaging and yes, sometimes quite emotional. The more I learned about these characters, the more I wanted them to get their second chance. Coming Home is a great way to start a series, and I'll be on the lookout for the next couple to find love in Woodland Park. This is my first time reading Shelley Shepard Gray's work, but it certainly won't be my last. The book is very well-written, the pacing is good, and the people of Woodland Park made for great company a couple of evenings this week.
Was this review helpful?
Coming Home is an emotional foray into regrets, the sometimes misguided choices we make because of love, and realizing home is not a physical place, but the people that make life worth living.

Anderson and Chelsea were high school sweethearts. They thought their young love could withstand anything, until Anderson enlisted and broke up with her. Chelsea’s heartbreak was compounded when she became pregnant in college and Anderson reacted terribly to the news. Now, they are both back in their hometown and running into each other everywhere. Can they rekindle the love that was lost?

Anderson and Chelsea each harbored some resentment from the fallout of her pregnancy. Neither knew how to bridge that gap and they needed a lot of introspection time to figure things out. It was clear from the start that the attraction between them was still as strong as ever. I loved every minute of their journey back to each other.

The set of supporting characters were also amazing. My heart ached for Camille and even her kids. I was really immersed in the lives of all these people and I just wanted to continue reading to find out how it all will come together.

The writing kept me engaged all throughout and it flowed beautifully at a good, steady pace. Coming Home will run you through a whole host of emotions.

I can recommend this for anyone who loves a second-chance romance.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Author Shelley Shepard Gray’s first book in her new Woodland Park Firefighters series starts off with a bang. The high school popular couple are now adults who are working through some tough life issues. Unexpected pregnancy and army tours have scarred both. Can they come together again?

I loved Chelsea’s son, Jack. Jack is spunky and dealing with life in his own way. But he looks past Anderson’s physical scars and becomes attached to it. What boy doesn’t love a real hero? Gray also has some great secondary characters who are older and facing life as senior citizens. I hope we see more of them!

A story of forgiveness and restoration, I highly recommend it!

I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.
Was this review helpful?
Firefighters, small town, second chance…

There was so much that caught my attention about this book! The cover was the first and the blurb clinched it. I’m a sucker for a second chance romance and the friction between Anderson and Chelsea needed to be explored right away…

There was mystery around what happened between them and that set the stage for the drama of their reunion. I liked the characters. They were solid, low drama (despite their circumstances) with their past providing the starting point for all that followed. Another great twist was the secondary story (and romance) of Chelsea and Jack’s neighbour. Family trouble – and love – knows no age barriers and her trials brought another welcome element to the book.

All in all it was a sweet walk in a small town with all the emotion I wanted from a second chance love. This was a new to me author but I see she has quite the backlist – lucky for me!
Was this review helpful?
I loved this new contemporary 2nd chance romance from Shelley Shepard Gray.  She's done a remarkable job in bringing us a sweet story about love, family and friendship. 
All wonderful ingredients to make a beautiful story.
I think my favorite thing about this book is the characters are realistic with their own fears, hopes and dreams. 
The small town feel is a 2nd favorite since I'm from one myself. Easy to make friends while yet at the same time everyone knows everyone's business sometimes even before you do.
A fast paced novel from beginning to end. I didn't put it down until I was finished. Very satisfied. 
Gray has proven more than once that she can write anything and not miss a beat.  
I love Gray's books no matter what she writes! 
I always look forward to seeing what she writes next.
5 stars for a beautiful cover and excellent writing that has well rounded out characters. 
My thanks for a copy of this book. I was NOT required to write a positive review. 
All opinions expressed are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Every character in Shelley Shepard Gray’s Coming Home is a normal, everyday person. And I loved that about this second chance romance.

Chelsea and Anderson have regrets and fears, but when Anderson returns home to Colorado and runs into Chelsea again, the attraction between them flames to life. There is a lot these two need to work through, and they are adults about it. Anderson is direct and says what’s on his mind. And though doubts tend to invade Chelsea’s mind and heart, she can’t deny the magnetic pull between her and her high school sweetheart. 

But Gray doesn’t stop there. Readers also get a taste of life with Chelsea’s elderly neighbor, and her kids insisting she move into a care home is no picnic. 

Coming Home is a story that shows how forgiveness and letting go of the pain of the past can sometimes lead to a wonderful future. There are also several people in this book I hope to see get their own stories (definitely Mallory, and perhaps Beau).

Disclosure statement: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book and was not required to write a positive or negative review. All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Coming Home is contemporary romance is the first book in the new A Woodland Park Firefighters Romance series and it was such a sweet story!

Coming Home is a second chance romance where an army veteran turns fire fighter returns to his hometown and sees his high school sweetheart. Will they be able to rekindle their love? 

First, I love any book set in Colorado! I liked the characters and it was the perfect small town romance. I am looking forward to reading the next books in this series.
Was this review helpful?
Real rating: 3.5 stars

Set in a small town in Colorado, this quiet corner of the world was the perfect setting for a Hallmark-y second chance romance between veteran Anderson Kelly and single-mom Chelsea Davis. Both characters had a chip on their shoulder from the way their relationship ended and they struggled to find their way back to each other despite their lingering feelings.

The story was character-driven, diving into Chelsea and her son's life, Anderson and his PTSD (only mentioned), with a secondary plot line following an older town resident, Camille. I found the characters well developed and a joy to fall in love with. In particular, Jack (Chelsea's son) and Camille were an absolute treat, and I'm surprised by how much my heart warmed to them. Camille's story in particular had my attention as I felt she was much to young for her predicament, but I loved how her story melded with Chelsea’s and Anderson's.

This is a more traditional read - there are some elements of gender essentialism, and there's a quiet religious aspect to it that peaks out through the story. Whether that's your thing or not, something to be aware of as you dive into this one.

Where this book fell a bit flat for me were some of the gaps - a character would say something like, "They need to take the initiative," but the other character already had taken the initiative, and it was referenced previously in the chapter. This happens a few times throughout the book and I wonder if they're for the sake of the argument within the story, or they're continuity errors. There were also a lot of exclamations that gave the writing a hokey feel, but added to its Hallmark-like vibe, so it grew on me.

As a whole, this book felt like a warm hug and was a delight to dive into if you're looking for a character-driven, second-chance romance!

TW: fire, sexism, car accident, injury detail, mentions of PTSD and war

Plot: 3/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 3.5/5
Writing: 3.5/5
Pacing: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

eARC gifted via NetGalley by Berkley Publishing Group via Penguin Randomhouse Canada in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed Coming Home but it didn't wow me.  I liked Anderson and Chelsea but didn't love them.  I just didn't get the feeling these two were star-crossed and destined to be together.  The emotions were ok but not to die for.  I really didn't get the neighbor's kids trying so hard to move her into a retirement home.  News flash, while some 66 year olds might not be capable for most of us it's not time to quit living our independent lives.

Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.
Was this review helpful?
I have found my new favorite Shelley Shepard Gray book! And that is saying something, because there are quite a few of her titles that are high on my list. But there is just something extra special about Coming Home.

It is partially due to the fact that it is a second chance at love story. I have found that I truly enjoy a well written novel where two people who once loved each other get that chance they thought was gone forever. And these two main characters, Chelsea and Anderson, definitely thought their time together would always remain a thing of the past.

Another reason I loved this story was the community where it was set. I felt like the characters in this town were real people. From the firefighters, to the senior citizens gathering at the community center, to Chelsea’s son, Jack, and Anderson’s parents, the author created a wonderful setting for this book and all future stories to come.

I could feel the connection between Anderson and Chelsea from the first moment they saw each other again. The straightforward way Anderson approached the topic of he and Chelsea getting to know each other again was refreshing. Yet, even still, Anderson and Chelsea struggled to let go of the difficult moments from their past, the “what ifs” that could have been, guilt, and even the fear of being hurt. But these two did a remarkable job of sharing their hearts in braveness with each other when it really mattered. I also thought the connection between Anderson and Jack was beautiful and spoke to the very honorable man Anderson had become.

I loved this book from start to finish and am anxiously awaiting the next novel in the series. Coming Home is a clean, contemporary romance title and the first book in the Woodland Park Firefighters Romance series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Coming Home by Shelley Shepard Gray, book one in A Woodland Park Firefighters series, is a lovely second chance love story. Chelsea Davis and Anderson Kelly were high school sweethearts, but they broke up just after graduation. Anderson was nervous about boot camp after signing up for the military which impacted his decision to break up with Chelsea. Chelsea reacted poorly, making a mistake in college, resulting in the birth of her son, Jack. It’s ten years later and they are both living in their hometown of Winterpark, Colorado, where their paths once again cross. Anderson now works at the fire department as a paramedic and Chelsea works at the local senior center. Both were profoundly changed by their experiences during their time apart. Now they are uncertain about reconnecting, after being affected by events and decisions while apart. Neither knows how to move forward and make amends. As they spend more time together, Anderson and Chelsea are able to reflect on their past, realizing that the pain they suffered was not one sided; they each played a part in their past hurts. Anderson and Chelsea learn that their choices in the past do not have to rule over their choices and happiness in the present and future. The feelings they share now are so much more powerful than those they shared before; giving them a second chance to open their hearts to a love and a future together. I highly recommend Coming Home to other readers.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
Was this review helpful?
Originally, the blurb really sucked me in, and always wanting to try authors I've never read before - I threw my hat in the ring to give this one a try.

Unfortunately, it wasn't for me.  I put this book down and picked it back up at least half a dozen times.  I wanted to like it.  In fact, I can't even tell you specifically what it is that I didn't love about it.  Only that it really struggled (and ultimately failed) to hold my attention.  It could be a timing thing, or perhaps just that I don't connect with the writing style.  I may circle back to it later - but ultimately it's a DNF for me at this time.
Was this review helpful?
I love a good small town romance. Even better when there's a hunky firefighter! I loved this story and the romance between Anderson and Chelsea. They both had difficult things to wrestle though and their relationship and its development felt mature. I'm not always a fan of children in romance novels, but Jack was an absolute delight! If you are looking for a slow burn, low steam, small town romance, add this one to your TBR pile! 

When an army vet becomes a firefighter in small-town Colorado, the flames of an old love reignite in this sweet romance by bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray

In Woodland Park, a small town nestled in the foothills of Pikes Peak, Anderson Kelly and Chelsea Davis were once the high school “it” couple—the star quarterback and the valedictorian. They broke up when Anderson joined the army and one poor decision at a fraternity party changed Chelsea’s life. Now, she works long shifts in a senior center to support her nine-year-old son, Jack.

After multiple tours in Afghanistan, Anderson has changed, too—physically scarred but mentally strong—and he decides to move back to Woodland Park. Anderson and Chelsea steer clear of each other to avoid reopening old wounds, until they are forced to reconnect through the senior center. They soon discover that the love they once shared never completely vanished. But it will take a fire, a dangerous collision, and the love of one little boy to help Anderson and Chelsea see that the future they've always yearned for is in sight...
Was this review helpful?
This was my first book by Shelley Shepard Gray, and I was impressed.  Coming Home is a sweetly romantic tale of love’s second chance.  Anderson Kelly and Chelsea Davis have a complicated past.  Once high school sweethearts, Anderson and Chelsea both made choices and suffered consequences that severed their relationship and matured them into different people.  Almost a decade later, Anderson and Chelsea are thrown back together.  The two slowly start to heal their relationship through patience, understanding, and the love of a little boy.

Anderson is an army vet who has become a firefighter in his hometown.  He is physically scarred and is haunted by how he treated Chelsea a decade ago.  Chelsea is a single mother of a nine-year-old.  She is independent and a wonderful mother.  Chelsea still harbors the pain of Anderson’s reaction to her pregnancy by another man.  I loved the strength and resilience of both Anderson and Chelsea.  Chelsea’s son Jack is adorable.  There is also a secondary romance with a mature couple that complimented the central romance.

I loved the premise and the plot.  There were times I felt the story slowed down its pace but the character development and heartfelt dialogue made up for it.  The characters melted my heart, and I was cheering for Anderson and Chelsea’s happily ever after.

Coming Home is the first book in the new series The Woodland Park Firefighters.  These are stories of army vets turned firefighters in a small Colorado town.  This sweet, poignant love story enchanted me.  Shelley Shepard Gray has done an excellent job telling an eye-catching, heart-warming romance.  I cannot wait to read about the other firefighter’s romances!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book through Netgalley and the publisher.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Chelsea was devastated when her high school sweetheart ended their relationship before he left to serve his country.   She left town to attend college and returned a single home a single mother to her son Jack and is content with the life and career she has built until her first and only love returns to town.

Anderson believed he was doing the right thing by ending his relationship with Chelsea before he left but now that he has returned he isn’t so sure.    The chemistry and connection hasn’t diminished over time but neither of them are the same teenagers who fell in love so will this be their second chance or are they destined for heartbreak once again?

This is an enchanting story about love, family and healing from the past.   Due to their pasts, both together and apart, they are both cautious, but some things are meant to be even if at times it is a difficult and emotional journey to get there.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you Netgalley and Berkley for access to this arc. 

The cover looked so nice and the blurb sounded as if there might be just enough angst to make a good read without going overboard. I had hesitated to request it because I worried that it would be too much of an inspie given that the author has written a lot of Amish books. But it turned out that I had worried unnecessarily. The MC characters are religious but there’s no preaching or proselytizing.

Both Anderson and Chelsea admit that they made mistakes and that maybe it was a good thing they had time to mature as neither was ready for marriage then. Anderson (yay!) tells Chelsea he was wrong to judge her and what happened and that he thinks she’s done a wonderful job with Jack. The man does know how to “make right.” Still they back away from anything more until they’ve gotten to know who they are now. I was so on board for all this and the slow way they began to get back together. Chelsea even dates another guy who, though he’s nice and polite, turns out to not be The One she’s interested in.

Chelsea and Jack have a wonderful relationship. Jack acts like an almost nine year old boy. He loves his mom but yes, he is at the stage when kids begin to move past being mainly with their parents. Anderson maintains a good rapport with him and offers short, silent prayers that he, Anderson, doesn’t screw things up. I was pleased that while some characters in the book weren’t thrilled about Chelsea choosing single motherhood (her parents) and Anderson initially reacted badly, no one else slut shamed her and the tone of the book itself was positive about Chelsea’s decision.

There are subtle reminders that Anderson came back with some PTSD that can, and for a short while after a fire event, does flare up. He deals with it but also thinks and worries about how this might affect his relationship with Chelsea. I was also glad to see this incorporated into the story.

Another thread focuses on an older couple and how one deals with her pushy adult children trying to decide what’s right for their mother. As a daughter who has just had to make slightly similar decisions, I could sympathise and see both sides. Hurrah that this wasn’t played as “ah, look at the oldsters falling in love. How cute.”

When the proposal occurs, it is after Anderson and Chelsea have already said their new relationship “I love yous” so I didn’t think anything felt rushed. They already had a pretty good foundation which had survived their years apart so I’m totally “go” with it and looking forward to the sequel. B
Was this review helpful?
Coming Home
Woodland Park Firefighters Romance Series - Book 1
By Shelley Shepard Gray

Berkley - December 2022

Contemporary Romance

Anderson Kelly had returned to his hometown after being injured in the army, but continued to help others by working as a paramedic firefighter. His work was a calling, and helping his community was fulfilling. His only problems were the awkward encounters with his high school sweetheart. He had broken things off with her after he enlisted, but she had turned to another. And was now a mother.

Bitter words, hurt and regret separated them.

Chelsea Davis had always envisioned a future with Anderson, but now her future was her and her son. When Anderson comes to the senior center where she works, Chelsea is aware of all the feelings that had never disappeared. She agrees to Anderson's suggestion to once again be friends, but is cautious.

But this time, they are older. More mature. And have the firefighters and senior citizens helping their romance along.

Coming Home is an enjoyable reunion romance filled with engaging characters which make it a perfect introduction to Ms Gray's new Woodland Park Firefighters Romance series. Anderson and Chelsea still hold love for each other, but they are quick to acknowledge that they are different people than the kids they had once been. It was lovely to watch them get to know one another again, Anderson's interactions with Chelsea's son, and their own healing. There is also a second storyline of one of the seniors which was very entertaining. I look forward to the next in this series.

Kathy Andrico -
Was this review helpful?
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Shelley Shepard Gray’s Coming Home is a poignant and emotional second chance romance that tugs at the heartstrings and brings a tear to the eye.

In the small town of Woodland Park nestled in the foothills of Pikes Peak, Anderson Kelly and Chelsea Davis had once been the local high school’s star couple. Everybody believed that Anderson and Chelsea would go the distance and spend the rest of their lives together, but fate had other plans for the quarterback and valedictorian. The two of them had broken up when Anderson had joined the army and Chelsea had made a poor decision that ended up costing her everything.

A lot has changed since high school. Anderson has been on countless tours in Afghanistan that have changed him and scarred him physically while Chelsea is a single mom working every single hour God sends to care for her nine-year-old son Jack. When Anderson moves back to Woodland Park, he plans to give his high school sweetheart a very wide berth. Anderson has been through enough and the last thing he wants or needs is to reopen old wounds. But when the two of them are forced to reconnect, Anderson and Chelsea quickly realize that their feelings for one another are as strong as ever, but are they prepared to let bygones be bygones and give their relationship another try? Is a future for the two of them possible? Or will happiness for Anderson and Chelsea continue to remain far out of their reach?

Shelley Shepard Gray’s Coming Home is a beautifully written, immensely moving and highly enjoyable contemporary romance about staring over, healing from the past and the power of love that grabbed my attention from page one and kept me engrossed until the very last word. Shelley Shepard Gray writes with such sensitivity, depth and understanding that readers will feel every single emotion her characters go through. They will laugh, cry and cheer on Anderson and Chelsea and will be looking forward to further installments in this fantastic new series by this very gifted writer.
Was this review helpful?
Anderson Kelly and Chelsea Davis had a wonderfully sweet romance when they were in high school. However, Anderson joined the army and their relationship fell apart. Meanwhile, Chelsea raised her son Jack alone. One night, one mistake on Chelsea’s part, but that doesn’t make Chelsea’s love Jack any less. 

Well-meaning friends think that the pair should get back together now that Anderson is back in town. Now a firefighter after several tours in Afghanistan. Jack came back badly scarred from his time in the war, but when Chelsea sees him, all she sees is the incredibly handsome strong man that she never stopped loving.

Coming Home is an absolutely touching second chance romance. It’s easy to see from the start that this pair are destined to be together. However with hurt feelings that were never resolved, Chelsea and Jack do what they can to fight their rekindling feelings. Pulled together more than once due to the local senior center, the more time they spend together, the harder it is to fight what is now happening between them.

This is the first book in a new series by Shelley Shepard Gray, and if we go by how warm and wonderful this book is, no doubt the other books in this series will be just as delightful. I love a character-driven story like this, one that makes it so easy to connect with all of the characters. And what I loved about this book is not only did we have Chelsea and Jack, but we had her young son and some of the seniors at the center. All of these characters were fabulous. Gray’s books have always been fabulous reads and Coming Home is a perfect example of that. 

Many thanks to Berkley Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

Please enjoy my YouTube video review -
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this book. I was expecting your typical closed door romance, but this one is even sweeter and more innocent than that. Would rate it all ages for sure. There is zero spice, zero steam, and zero tension. While there is a bit of chemistry between the characters, it is not the focus as much as their story is.

This is a second chance romance between two high school sweethearts. A lot has changed for them in the 10 years since they last saw each other. Chelsea has an 8 year old son and Anderson has come home from the army with scars physical and not. The two of them are as sweet as an ice cream sundae. The dynamic between our main couple and Chealsea's young son is also done very well. I thought some of it was a told versus shown, but when you aren't trying to steam up a room I guess you have to do more telling than showing.

I especially loved the side romance between Camille and Frank. Who says you can't find love when you're 60+. If you are looking for a super sweet, small town second chance romance, this is the book for you.
Was this review helpful?