Six months after Katarina Elmore (Kaz) loses her young daughter Jamie in a car accident, a stranger turns up at her doorstep and tells her otherwise. Devlin, a dashing security consultant from Chicago who held Jamie in her last moments after coming across the crash in Atlanta, decides to visit the family while on a business trip in London. His intention is to comfort the family about the child’s death by letting them know she was not alone or in pain. Instead, Devlin finds that the child in the family photograph is different to the one who died at the crash. The hope that her daughter may still be alive drives Kaz to look for her with Devlin’s help. This search takes her to the United States, Ireland, Italy and eventually to Wales. Along the way, Devlin’s dark and mysterious past is uncovered while Kaz comes to terms with her own childhood and the yearning she has for her father’s approval.
Never Coming Home is Evonne Wareham’s debut novel. She was part of the New Writer’s scheme before eventually being signed by Choc Lit, who publish books for women that develop the hero’s point of view while also keeping the genre romantic at the same time. The book is narrated in the third person and gives insight to both Kaz and Devlin’s perspective. There is attraction between the two from the beginning of the novel, even though it may seem inappropriate for Kaz to be noticing this man’s good looks after just finding out that her daughter may still be alive. “She’d sleep with him, if that’s what it took. To get her child back. Brave, desirable, ruthless, vulnerable, a mother. And attracted to him.” Yet the book never loses that quality which sometimes lacks in many other romantic fiction that get carried away dealing with relationship issues and romantic endeavours. There is plenty of lust and passion, especially against the romantic backdrop of Italy, yet Wareham does not allow her novel to be limited by it. Instead, her writing style is fast paced and exciting, mixing the romance up with thriller and mystery.
However, Wareham has a tendency to over-explain the obvious when it comes to her characters’ feelings. “This woman was Trouble. Definitely capital T. Trouble with his name on.” This can be forgiven as internal monologue, especially when Wareham so skilfully writes the action into the novel, never feeling like she has to tone down the blood and violence. The search for her daughter puts Katarina Elmore in danger greater than she expected when she started off. The journey takes sudden turns as Devlin’s past catches up to him and Katarina finds herself part of a bigger scenario. Everything ties together really well and each little bit of information that the reader may overlook at the start is brought to light and made relevant later.
It is obvious from a romantic perspective that Devlin and Kaz will come together at the end of the novel for a happily ever after. What keeps that interesting is how they both undergo a great deal of complications before doing so. As a romantic hero, Devlin is darker and more dangerous than expected from a Choc Lit novel. His shadowy past is hardly something he feels proud of or wants to share, especially with a mother who will not give up the search for her daughter. Yet Kaz must learn to trust Devlin, as she finds herself drawn to him despite her reluctance to become a destitute female in dire need of saving from a knight in shining armour.
Overall, Never Coming Home is a well-planned and accomplished romantic thriller. While the readers may find themselves cringing over the romantic descriptions and clichés, the book is far from light-hearted with its final body count. Evonne Wareham’s highly anticipated second novel Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind, which is another romantic thriller but with a paranormal element is to be published in March 2013.