Friday, March 28, 2014

Home at Last by Anita Higman, © 2013

I thoroughly enjoyed this story! Beyond a cherishing relationship, Home at Last brings to the forefront trust in God and His provision for us as we follow Him in our daily lives. Olivia is delightful! Willing to confront her past to free her future, she is open and considerate, a true friend.
Many waters cannot quench love;
     rivers cannot wash it away.
              --Song of Solomon 8:7
Home at Last

Noah Bromfeld has returned home with hopes of making amends with his father. He finds his father is not there, but Olivia Lamington is. Unknown to him, Finney Bromfeld has passed away and left Bromfeld Manor to Olivia, his caregiver for the past twenty years. Noah, presumed dead by his father, has left his entire estate to her.

Olivia, not wanting to retain her inheritance since Noah is the rightful heir, agrees to remain to help Noah fix up the house and the caretaker's stone cottage in the woods on the large estate. Their friendship grows as they share their childhoods memories. Staying at the cottage, Noah checks out the nearby town of Gardenia to determine if there is enough need for a landscaping business he would like to pursue. In the meantime, Olivia has a home at the manor for as long as she chooses. Mops, the manor dog, agrees having her to guard.

Visitors come to the manor and Olivia is so gracious. This has been home to her for so many years and she is welcoming in her kind demeanor. Noah finds her to be open and, in turn, is able to be open with her in communication. Strength for each other, their true selves are able to blossom.

A very good read and you come away with deeper meaning than a quick read. Trust is paramount. One comment I really liked that Olivia voiced to herself was the reminder that God was still in control of their destinies, not the actions of another person. So good and true; a future and a hope.

Photo of Anita HigmanBestselling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has thirty-two books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She's been a Barnes & Noble "Author of the Month" for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends. Please visit her online at her website at

***Thank you to author Anita Higman for sending me a copy of Home at Last to read and review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Enjoy the first few pages of Chapter 1 ~ Home at Last by Anita Higman

Olivia Lamington wriggled the key into the lock of the manor's heavy front door, but it didn't fit quite right—just as her own irregular life had never slipped easily into this world. Especially now. It had been three months since Finney's passing, though her heart still felt the weight of her employer's absence. What a turn of events it had been for her—imagine—an orphan becoming heiress to a castle. She'd embraced the manor as her home, as Finney had requested, but sometimes it still felt as though she were playing house.
   The hinges of the door groaned and echoed through the entry hall, making Olivia wither. Although Bromfeld Manor was filled with antiques, tapestries and paintings, it was empty of Finney's scents and sounds. His joy. After twenty years in Finney's employment, how would she live her life now? Was God still smiling down on her?
   Not wanting to go inside just yet, she turned back toward the live oaks. The canopy of leaves shimmered, looking like lacework against the afternoon sun, and the branches stretched across the lane as if straining to embrace each other. The breeze tickled her cheeks, making her eyelids flutter shut. The smell of Carolina jasmine filled the air. Oh, how Finney loved springtime in the country, especially his little corner of the world in Southeast Texas. So vivacious and expectant, he would always say.
   The sun dipped behind the clouds, darkening the landscape. The shadows reminded her once again how alone she was.
   Music, far away and sweetly melancholy, came in on the breeze. In the distance a stranger, who looked about her own age—perhaps somewhere near forty—plodded toward the manor, playing a harmonica. She recognized the folk song, "Danny Boy." With each grinding step his shoes stirred up puffs of clay-colored dust. Had the man's car broken down, or was he homeless? The moment the man noticed Olivia, he stopped as if she were a skittish bird he might frighten off.
   He was right. She backed away into the house and locked the dead bolt. The man was a stranger, after all, and with the staff recently dismissed, she was truly alone.
   Olivia hurried to one of the front windows, pulled the drape back and studied the man. A stray dog she'd befriended over the months—one she'd named Mops—latched on to his pant leg, snarling and generally causing him grief. The stranger didn't seem to mind the tug-of-war, but he did look weary in a thousand other ways—as though he was on the last journey of his life.
   Believing that the stranger would ring the bell, Olivia scurried into the sunroom so she wouldn't be tempted to answer the door. She found a book on the shelf—The Man Who Would Be King—and opened it to the first page. A pressed flower fluttered out of the novel and onto the floor, one she'd forgotten about. But then pressing wildflowers into books and hoping they would fall out later to delight a reader was her "thing." Or as Rudyard Kipling might have said, "a trifling custom." It was so much a part of her that many of the Bromfeld Manor books held hidden blossoms. She picked up the translucent bluebonnet and set it on the table.
   Just as she expected, the doorbell rang. She sat still. Olivia, you will not answer that door. She tried to concentrate on the first line of the novella, but it was no use. She ended up going over and over the same words, waiting for the bell again. When it rang, Olivia jumped. Then the goofy thing ding-donged five more times. Who did the man think he was?
   Olivia waited, holding her breath. Finally, there was quiet again. He must have given up. But a moment later when she turned toward the west end of the room, the stranger stood by the windows, staring at her through the glass.
   Olivia's book made a flying leap before slapping back down onto the wood floor. She let out a shriek so bone rattling that it frightened the stranger, making him stumble backward. He let out an equally impressive yelp as the big-thorned rosebushes devoured him.
   Was he a thief? A murderer? Maybe he'd heard of Finney's death and somehow knew she was alone. God help me! What could she do? Call the local sheriff? But there was no time. And Finney had never kept guns on the premises. If she had a gun she'd probably just shoot her foot off with the silly thing, anyway.
   Glancing at each of the sunroom windows, she noticed one of them had been left open. Olivia ran to the spot and, with quaking hands, slammed the window shut, locked it and backed away until she hit the wall. Finding a broom behind the door, she grabbed it and held it in front of her as a weapon.
   No sound came from the man and no thrashing about in the bushes. Had he been knocked out, or was he playing dead like a sly fox?
   After another second or two, muffled words erupted from the rosebushes. "I am Finney Bromfeld's son, Noah," he hollered.
   Olivia's mind tore into a dozen questions at once. He couldn't be Finney's son; Finney's son was dead.
   The stranger tried to get his footing as he clambered out of the bushes. When he finally straightened, he held out a pink rose like a repentant schoolboy. "So, do you believe me?" He spoke loudly to be heard through the glass.
   "I don't know what to think. You don't look anything like Finney." The man had long brown hair, light olive skin and a boring kind of nose. Nothing at all like Finney, who'd had blond hair, a schnozzle with angles and skin as pink as a newborn mole.
   "That's because I resemble my mother," he said.
   "Why don't I believe you?" Olivia stepped forward, still aiming the broom at him. "By the way, you scared the woozoos out of me, peeping in the window like that." She sharpened her tone, making it as unpleasant as a paper cut—a nasty one.
   "Woozoos? That's a good one." He didn't even bother to squelch his laugh. "Actually, I wasn't peeping. I was about to open a window so I could climb in." Then the man stuck the rose into the lapel of his jacket and gave it a pat. "And you were the one guilty of gawking out at me from the front window."
   Humph. That wasn't the same thing, but to say the obvious seemed ridiculous.
   At least the barbed bushes, which had been planted near the windows to discourage thieves, had done their job. His hands and face were scratched up, and his T-shirt and jacket were dirtied. A trickle of blood drizzled down the man's cheek from a small wound on his temple. Olivia's heart softened toward him—but only a mouse's portion. "Before I even think about letting you in…tell me something unique about your family, something only Finney's son might know."
   "All right." The man scrubbed his stubble-covered chin. "When I was seventeen my mother was…" He frowned and shook his head as if he'd changed his mind about telling her.
   "Was what?" "My mother was struck by lightning." He crossed his arms. "So, will that do?"
   "Maybe." Finney had talked about the incident some years ago. Olivia gave up the idea that the man was a thief and motioned toward the front of the house. "Okay, I will let you in but not through the window. Please go around to the front door."
   Mops trotted up to the man and growled with more gumption this time.
   Hmm. Could have used you a few moments ago.
   The man tapped on the glass. "Could you please call off your dog?"
   Olivia hesitated, since maybe Mops sensed a danger she wasn't aware of.
   Then, with the shameless audacity of a burglar, the man lifted one of the windows and stepped inside the sunroom. "Ever since I was five that lock has never worked right." He stood inside now, dusting off his clothes. "Weren't you tired of shouting through the glass? I was." He looked at her broom and raised his hands as if he were being held up by a loaded gun. Then he grinned.
   It was a good smile as smiles go—a fine specimen—but she still wanted to slap it right off his face and maybe leave a stinging red imprint on his cheek to remind him not to go around frightening women.
   He cocked his head. "You're not going to scream again, are you?"
   "I don't think so."
   "Or sweep me to death?" He gestured toward the broom—the one she still gripped as if her hands were welded to the handle.
   Olivia slowly lowered her weapon and then dropped it cold, letting it make a spiteful clatter on the wood floor. She tried not to stare at him, but she gave up and stared anyway. His wild locks were pulled back in a ponytail. My, my, my. She'd never personally met a man with long hair before. Kind of sixties. Noah wasn't terribly handsome, not short or tall, heavy or thin, but he was appealing with his dark eyes darting about, taking in the whole world at once. The man was a dreamer type—one could see that in a moment—but even with all his swashbuckling Johnny Depp air there was a tortured look about him.
   And the man had no sense of personal space, since he came up to her and edged a bit too close. "Technically speaking, you're the stranger in my house."
   Confused, Olivia backed away. The scent of him—weeds and wet dog—lingered in her nose. Not the best combo.
   "I'm Noah, but I guess I said that back there in the shrubs."
   "You did."
   "By the way, you have a blight on your roses, and they're in desperate need of pruning. If you're not careful, they're going to forget how to bloom."
   "They just need a bit of love." Like a kite coming down to earth, Olivia reeled herself back in. "You're bleeding." She pointed to his cheek.
   "My father's roses were always unforgiving…as were so many other things about this home." Noah pulled a handkerchief from an inner pocket and dabbed at his face.
   "I'm Olivia Lamington. Like the little coconut-covered sponge cakes in Australia."
   "I've been to Australia, and since I have a great fondness for those little coconut-covered treats, I won't be able to get you out of my head."
   What did that mean? Was he making fun of her? She hardly knew. Except for some church functions and shopping in town, her social interactions had been limited. Olivia wiped her sweaty palms on her clothes, wishing she'd worn something besides a shapeless gray housedress. Something, that was, less Jane Eyreish for a change. She thought about shaking his hand but then changed her mind. "I was hired as an assistant and, well, sort of a nurse to your father."

   "Sort of a nurse?" Noah released a chuckle. He knew he was being belligerent, but the moment was too much fun to let go of.
   Olivia raised her chin a mite. "Some years ago Finney got a letter saying that you were dead." She smacked her hands together in a squirming knot.
   "Dead? So I died? Well, that explains so much." He laughed. "Good to know."
   "You laugh like your father."
   "Oh? Is that right?"
   The woman went into a quiet stare again. She didn't appear to be easy with banter. Her fingers now worked the pockets on her dress like little animals working at the locks on their cages.
   Noah made himself at home, milling around the room. "Do you mind if I ask who sent the letter that pronounced me dead?"
   "I'm sorry. I don't know."
   Noah narrowed his eyes. "Whoever it was…was right." He stuffed his fists into the pockets of his jeans. "I guess I have been dead for years."
   Olivia looked puzzled, as if she wanted to smile but couldn't quite get the muscles to obey.
   Noah picked up a brass compass off a table and turned it around in his hand. "This was a gift from my father on my tenth birthday. He told me to be careful, or it would break. I treasured it. I really did. Never even used it, for fear it would be damaged. Even kept the outside polished. But it stopped working one day. I never did know what went wrong with it."
   He tossed it in the air and then caught it in the palm of his hand. "I didn't take the compass with me. Too many memories attached to it…and not the kind you press into a scrapbook." Noah set the compass down, knowing he'd need to stop stalling and ask about seeing his father. "I'm here to talk to my father. I want to speak to him right now…even if he doesn't want to see me."
   Her face went as ashen as her dress, which had to be the least flattering outfit he'd ever seen on a woman. And what was the meaning of that red ribbon around her wrist?
   "Are you okay?" Noah reached out to her and cupped her elbow, thinking she might pass out.
   "I'm fine. But Finney isn't fine. He's…" Olivia pushed her long hair away from her face and then held that pose as if she wasn't sure what to do next.
   "Please tell me, what's wrong?"
   "Your father has gone."
   "Gone where?"
   Olivia grabbed her waist. Her delicate, elfinlike features wrinkled. "Your father has gone to heaven."
   "He's dead?"
   Lord, help me. I've come too late. "When did he die?"
   "Three months ago."
   Noah stepped backward and then collapsed onto a wicker chair. He'd been a fool to wait. Considering his father's advancing years, he should have known that the window of reconciliation would not stay open forever. Noah lowered his head and let his fingers claw into his scalp.
   Olivia walked over to him and knelt beside him. "I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have just said it so bluntly. I'm not very good at—"
   "What did my father die of?" Noah looked at her.
Love Inspired Books ISBN-13: 978-0-373-48687-8 HOME AT LAST © 2013 by Anita Higman


  1. Received a copy from Anita also, but have had other deadlines to meet. Hope I enjoy the book, also.

  2. Sounds good! I just might have to use my Amazon gift card on this one.

    Off topic, How did you embed the chapters like that in the post?

    1. Hi Anne, Thanks, will send you the embed codes that I received from FIRST Wild Card reviews. Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House