Excited about Reading: Going back by Jennifer Young

The cover story~

Feisty, redheaded, and fabulously rich student, Leona Castellano, is set upon returning to her Italian roots to put an old feud to bed. Her grandfather is dead, but his former enemy, Faustino Manfredi, seems determined the hostility should not die with him and turns his fury upon Leona.

When she becomes close to Faustino’s grandson, Nico, their romance strengthens Faustino’s vendetta and attracts the opposition of Leona’s parents, bringing Leona and Nico face to face with a terrible secret.

Sharing my thoughts~

Leona vacillated between rich spoiled child and a naive woman who hoped to reconcile families over an ancient feud. Moody and petulant, Nico’s inability to stand up to his father and grandfather annoyed me, but his love and concern for his sister redeemed him. Both characters dealt with a myriad of family issues and struggled to assert their independence.

“Somehow his loyalty made him less of a hero. When I fell in love with a man, it would be one who stood up for himself, even if that meant standing up to me.” ~Leona

Let me just put this out there. As a romance lover, I felt cheated with the actual romance in Going Back, as if all the juicy details happened before the first page.  I really wish the opening scene revealed the “inciting incident,” the one everybody rehashes repeatedly from differing POV’s. Instead, the wooing (if there was any) took place before the book opens (perhaps in the first book, A Portrait of My Love?), and Nico and Leona never connect on the page until approximately 23% into the book. When they finally get together, they argue, which even leads to a behind-the-door bedroom scene. Really? The romance lover in me cringed and wanted to close the book.

But I didn’t. Because, while Going Back lacked romance, it made up for it big in drama and family dynamics. Specifically, dealing with manipulative and controlling family members. We all have one, don’t we? A family member, whether by blood or marriage, who attempts to control you through manipulation or guilt or just plain browbeat you into submission. Until someone stands up to them or we distance ourselves, this person continues their abhorrent behavior.

“Somehow he and I would overcome everything, would make it work and put an end to the stupidity of hatred, instead of allowing it to reach into the third generation and taint it, the way it had done in the first and the second.”

I kept reading, anxious to see how the characters would overcome the obstacles to their happy-ever-after. The POV switches between 3rd (Nico) and 1st person (Leona), all separated by appropriate breaks, distracted me. Based on events and secrets that unfolded, I expected some kind of twist, but the author delivered a shock that even I didn’t see coming. 🙂

So, maybe not as much romance as I prefer, but the ending satisfied my happily-ever-after requirement. Jammed with drama and knitted with a heavy theme of forgiveness, Going Back was worth the read.

“Being good and kind and forgiving isn’t easy. You do it bit by bit.”
Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to Tirgearr Publishers and Jennifer Young for allowing me the privilege of reviewing Going Back and for the free copy I received in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. This opinion is my own, and I received no compensation.

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