Turn for Home is a romance novel about late-blooming lesbian love and the conflicts that can come with a heterosexual past and bisexual present.

Brenna Lanigan is discovering lesbian love for the first time in her adult life with, of all people, a co-star on “Time Trails,” the TV show she stars in. A veteran of heterosexual relationships, having had two husbands and numerous affairs with men, now that Cassidy Hyland has come into her life, Brenna is smitten beyond any of her previous experiences. She wants to talk to Cassidy every night, she wants to share everything with her. Unfortunately, Brenna’s two teenaged sons–17-year-old Thomas and 15-year-old Kevin–are none too keen on spending time with the other woman, sensing something is up with their mother and Cassidy.

The story is complicated by Cassidy’s estranged husband who is fighting her for custody of their five-year-old son, Ryan. Mitch isn’t the kind of guy to give up easily–he had expected to woo Cassidy back when the show ended, but now that he’s discovered through the tabloids that Cassidy is spending time with Brenna, he’s thoroughly enraged.

Mitch plots to win his son back. He lures Cassidy away from the set and assaults her, injuring her so badly her heart is damaged. Cassidy grants temporary custody of Ryan to Brenna as she goes into surgery. The two are officially a couple.

The plot gets more complicated from there as Brenna loses another role because she’s now typecast as lesbian and the two face other conflicts, including problems with their children and the three former husbands.

What keeps Turn for Home from being successful is a plethora of secondary and tertiary characters taking page time away from the main characters and creating unnecessary subplots that veer away from the central storyline and are also not compelling. In addition, Cassidy’s estranged husband is almost caricaturishly evil and violent–more a stock character from an episode of “Jerry Springer” than a man we could believe a woman like Cassidy would ever have been involved with. The scene in which he attacks her is incredibly brutal and the entire story pivots on this event and her slow recovery.

Brenna and Cassidy are engaging characters, but while the two move toward happily ever after (albeit with Cassidy still in a wheelchair), the story of how they get there has far too many stumbling blocks along the way to keep the reader interested.
by Lara Zielinsky
P.D. Publishing
Paperback, 9781933720746, $16.99

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7 Responses to “‘Turn for Home’ by Lara Zielinsky”

  1. cygirl1 23 November 2010 at 3:48 PM #

    I enjoyed Turn for Home and think that the secondary characters rounded out the story and added to the main characters. Having worked in the Social Work field with abused children for many years, I have had the misfortune of dealing with abusive and sociopathic husbands and boyfriends that fit the mold of Cassidy’s husband. One only has to turn on the news and see that Cassidy’s husband is a reality and not a ‘Jerry Springer’ episode. I found the characters and plot believable and recommend this novel. Thank you for allowing me to post my opinions of this story.

  2. Paisley Smith 23 November 2010 at 6:28 PM #

    Having been with a caricaturishly evil man before, I found the antagonist completely believable. Narcissists all have similar traits in common and she nailed the creep! Ms. Zielinsky brings lesbian fiction into the mainstream for me. Her heroines combat real life issues on top of the issues faced by lovers in m/f romances. And as you said, the heroines are most definitely engaging characters. Thanks for posting the review!

  3. sara m 23 November 2010 at 7:14 PM #

    yep, i was with that caricaturishly evil guy once upon a time, too…hate to think about it. i enjoyed the book.

  4. Kimberly K 24 November 2010 at 1:31 AM #

    I’m not usually one for confrontation, but the statement about Mitch not being “a man we could believe a woman like Cassidy would ever have been involved with” absolutely infuriates me. You are entitled to your opinion, of course, but perhaps you should spend a little time trying to understand the realities of a battered woman before you make such an overtly condemnatory statement. The statement was extremely judgmental of Cassidy (and by implication, of all domestic abuse victims and survivors), not to mention blatantly elitist, essentially saying that someone of her character, intelligence, socioeconomic status, etc. would have known better; and thus implying that only a woman of lower class or intelligence would put herself in such a situation. Such a statement places blame on the woman, for the batterer’s actions. It calls her character and judgment into question, when it should be the batterer’s character on trial. Further, batterers aren’t just a fixture on trash TV. In fact, a great many of them are well-educated, well-respected, financially secure men from affluent communities, and their wives are very much like Cassidy—who, by the way, had no idea what Mitch was capable of when she met him. Batterers are like chameleons—they’re adept at hiding their true selves, and skilled at the manipulation and degradation of the unsuspecting women who get caught in their snare. They don’t tend to show their true colors until they have the woman exactly where they want her, and know that they can control her. By that time, more often than not, the woman finds herself completely financially dependent upon the batterer, questioning her own judgment, and possesses little, if any, self-worth. No woman is immune to this type of relationship. In fact, you would be surprised how many well-educated women from affluent communities end up in women’s shelters, terrified of losing their children, and running for their lives. So, until you have lived with an abusive narcissist, or worked with their victims (which I do), please don’t presume to know that “a woman like Cassidy” would never have been involved with a man like Mitch.

  5. Pol 24 November 2010 at 3:25 AM #

    As someone who was married and abused by her own “but, he’d never do anything like that” Mitch, I can say that Kimberly above has written a terrific commentary on the reviewers misguided comments. I’ve lived it and nothing about Mitch rang false. The reviewer should count herself lucky that she knows not of what she speaks.

    Some of us are/were not so fortunate.

  6. Lara Z 24 November 2010 at 8:59 AM #

    Ms. Brownworth, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. I respect your background in journalism, publishing, writing and editing, having experience in those fields myself. It seems your reaction to Turn for Home is more visceral than intellectual. I am extremely glad to strike nerves with this story — which you neglect to mention is a sequel to my first novel Turning Point (2007; PD Publishing).

    However, the primary reason I’m posting is to point out a few factual errors in your review:

    1) Brenna’s second son is James. Kevin is the husband she is divorcing.

    2) Cassidy does not give Brenna temporary custody of Ryan. The documents they sign are about Brenna serving as Cassidy’s medical proxy, her only recourse to involve Brenna in her medical decision-making, since their relationship is not legally recognized.

    Thank you for the opportunity to correct these details.

  7. victoria brownworth 25 November 2010 at 9:49 PM #

    Criticism is always subjective to a degree. While I am sorry about the two small factual errors that crept into this review, I stand by the rest of what I wrote—two engaging main characters are burdened unnecessarily by far too many unnecessary secondary and tertiary characters, almost none of whom are important to the plot.

    And while many of us have been victimized by brutal men, myself included, in terms of plotting, Mitch is indeed caricaturish and unbelievable in large part because he has suddenly become a killer. Suddenly. A killer. Mitch and Cassidy’s son is only five; they have only been separated a short time. Cassidy clearly fell in love with Mitch and had a child with him. Did she fall in love with a man who would beat a woman literally to death in front of her own child (remember, Ryan is on the set and Mtch thinks he’s there when he takes the bat to Cassidy)? Possibly, but the character we are expected to believe Cassidy is would not have. And thus Mitch strains credulity. Especially given the gut-wrenching violence in the beating scene which is harrowing.

    In addition, I would say that authors of serials are obligated to explain any information from previous sequilae that are essential for the new reader. Series books should move seamlessly from one to the next without confusion for the reader. —Victoria Brownworth

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