Judith D Collins
Home to Chicory Lane
By Deborah Raney
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication Date: 8/19/14
Series: A Chicory Inn Novel Book 1
My Rating: 3 Stars
Audrey Whitman’s dreams are coming true. Now that their five kids are grown, she and her husband, Grant, are turning their beloved family home into a cozy bed and breakfast just a mile outside of Langhorne, Missouri.
Opening weekend makes Audrey anxious, with family and friends coming from all over to help celebrate the occasion. But when Audrey’s daughter, Landyn, arrives, the U-Haul she’s pulling makes it clear she’s not just here for a few days. Audrey immediately has questions. What happened in New York that sent Landyn running home? Where was Landyn’s husband, Chase?
And what else was her daughter not telling her? One thing was for sure, the Chicory Inn was off to a rocky start. Can Audrey still realize her dream and at the same time provide the comfort of home her daughter so desperately needs?
A special thank you to Abingdon Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
HOME TO CHICORY LANE (Chicory Inn #1) By Deborah Raney, is a heartwarming novel of home, family dynamics, relationships, and self-discovery. Audrey and her husband have finally raised their five children, and are opening a bed and breakfast in Langhorne, Missouri—renovating their long time family home and converting it to a business for their retirement. However, the bed and breakfast inn business is not as simple as Audrey thought. In addition, she is the one wanting the business and pretty much has forced her husband into the role (they use the retirement money as he has been in the construction business), and the children are not so keen on their family home being occupied by guests. Taking front and center over the B&B business at hand, is the return of their youngest daughter, Laundry. Laundry (a marketing executive) –only being married for six months to her artist husband, Chase residing in New York. There is trouble in paradise and she is returning home for help. When Laundry shows up unannounced with Uhaul on the day of the open house, Audrey’s perfect world and her open house tour is disrupted. Chase and Laundry have not communicated their feelings to one another, as Chase has grown up with really no family, and no role models. Laundry on the other hand is pretty much spoiled, and wants things her way. (She has much in common with her mother, Audrey who seems very controlling and impulsive, not always looking at the big picture)
A starving artist, Chase struggles with doing what he loves; however, at the same time, this family expects him to offer financial security for his family. I am probably not the best judge of this book, since I have been working with B&B and hotel owners for the last 25 years, with their marketing strategy and how to operate a successful inn. I have seen it all, successes and failures. Of course, this book is fiction, so cannot be too critical. Sounds like this couple had no business plan, as no mention of website, property management system, reservation system, marketing plan, competitive analysis, revenue management, etc. There is much more to running a B&B business than laundry and cooking, so was a little unrealistic to have her daughter help with the marketing after the fact (not before). Again, possibly not a lot of research into the business, and besides the business of the inn, the novel offers a nice takeaway and lessons for us all, as sometimes God takes us through rough times and puts people in our lives or path for a season or reason. Our struggles may not make sense at the time, or apparent until a later time, when it becomes clear and all the pieces fit together. God always is much bigger than us. Not a lot of likable warm characters you can connect with on an intimate level, except Chase. Seems everyone was forced into being a certain way and nosing into everyone's business, with no humor. I connected with Chase, as know how important it is to follow your dreams and talent, and sympathized with his character. A light Christian read about family dynamics and relationships. Was hoping for a little more from the B&B (the renovations, challenges, guests, etc.), and less from the daughter and son; however, I look forward to reading more from this author in the future. Fans of Sherryl Woods, Debbie Macomber, or Mariah Stewart may enjoy the light read; however, for readers looking for more complex B&B read, would recommend Lin Stepp’s Down By the River, and Donna Ball’s The Hummingbird House and Lady Bug Farm Series.