Last One Home. The author provides a bit of introduction telling a brief account of what triggered the impulse to capture this story. I love it when I get a glimpse into a writer's mind.
Cassie Carter is a wounded woman struggling to reclaim her life. At the tender age of 18, Cassie fled her home and family to marry Duke, the young man whose child she was secretly carrying. Duke moved them to Florida and forced her to cut all ties with her family. His abusiveness grew to the point where she feared for herself and her daughter, Amy. Finally free of Duke, she is rebuilding her life, working in a job as a hairdresser, and putting in hours with the Habitat for Humanity group so that she can one day work for her own home. Putting in those required hours means working with the brusque Steve Brody, a man who instantly disliked her. But Steve is battling his own demons, after the loss of his beloved wife to cancer, and eventually decides to give Cassie a chance.
The author expertly weaves in images of Cassie and her sisters as kids playing hide and seek and running to the base tree to be the "last one home." While Cassie desires a reunion with her sisters, she is unsure they are willing to reconnect. With tentative steps and the help of friends, she is able to regain her footing with her sisters and find the forgiveness her heart has longed for. Realistic characters and the promise of reconciliation and romance propel the reader along. While a bit predictable, the story is easy to absorb and leaves one with hope and encouragement at the end.