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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and emotionally satisfying, Aug. 9 2003
This review is from: Home Before Dark (Hardcover)
Losing her sight, Jessie Ryder returns to the home that she left fifteen years before--and to the daughter she left, adopted by her sister, Luz. Jessie has been a photographer, taking pictures of the world, rescued from her mistakes by her sister, but her sister can't rescue her from blindness. Jessie intends to see her daughter, visit her sister, and then vanish again. She doesn't count on meeting a handsome pilot with a story of his own, or on her daughter Lile's decision to sneak out of the house for a night of joy-riding. When she must leave, the pain is more than she can stand--still, Jessie leaves, it defines who she is.
Dusty Matlock lost his pregnant wife but kept her on life support until their child, a wonderful daughter, could be born. For two years, he's retreated into himself. But when the pretty photographer comes to take his pictures for an article, he feels the stirrings of desire--and love. Dusty may have lost his love, but he isn't the kind of man to swear off love for a lifetime--and what he feels for Jessie is the real thing. Of course, the onset of Jessie's blindness is a secret--will Dusty be able to survive another terrible blow?
Author Susan Wiggs turns up the emotional intensity with this gripping story. Jessie is believable and thee-dimensional as the woman who sees herself as trouble, runs from her problems, yet who has punished herself more than anyone can. Luz is interesting and an apt counterpart to Jessie's flamboyance (three tattoos?). Dusty breaks the stereotype of romance heros by being confident of his emotions and certain of what he wants. Jessie's blindness is handled sensitively and realistically as she deals with the loss of this critical sense, the loss of her career, and the realization of all that she lost by walking away from her daughter at birth.
Susan Wiggs is a wonderful author who seems to grow stronger with each novel. HOME BEFORE DARK is an important achievement. Highly Recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Expertly Crafted Novel, April 26 2003
By 
Sheri Melnick (Enola, PA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Home Before Dark (Hardcover)
Many a historical romance author has tried to make the crossover to contemporary fiction. In rare instances, authors excel equally in both genres, and Susan Wiggs is one of those rare exceptions. With her latest novel, she explores the bond between sisters Jessie Ryder and Luz Ryder Benning.
After almost sixteen years traveling the globe on photojournalism assignments, Jessie is back to see her beloved sister Luz, three nephews, and fifteen-year-old niece Lila, who is actually the baby Luz and husband Ian adopted from Jess who took off years ago. Through the pain of separation and untold secrets, the sisters try to fit into each other's lives again, as Luz and Ian must decide whether to tell rebellious Lila the truth of her birth. And even Jessie has some secrets regarding Lila's conception. Amidst this very realistic glimpse into one family's drama is the surprising romance Jessie finds with local pilot and widower Dusty Matlock, who has a tragic story of his own.
Expertly drawn characters set against the beautiful Texas landscape are the life force of this compelling novel. Not only is the reader entranced by the unearthing of past secrets, but present-day secrets come to light in this thought provoking read with a unique and believable view of one family's ability to stay together despite personal trauma and tragedy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars engaging relationship novel, April 13 2003
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This review is from: Home Before Dark (Hardcover)
After living for the past fifteen years in New Zealand and photographing much of the world, Jessie Ryder returns to her hometown of Edenville, Texas near Austin. Jessie suffers from a debilitating illness that will leave her blind, so she needs to see her biological daughter Lila one last time. Years ago Jessie became pregnant after making love to Ian Benning, who later met, fell in love with, and married her sister Luc. Jessie hid the father's identity from everyone and her newly married sister and husband adopted Lila and loved her as their own.
Jessie wants Ian and Luc to tell Lila the truth about whom is her biological mother. As the trio struggles with what is best for Lila, the teen engages in hill hopping which leads to the death of another passenger. Meanwhile, Jessie falls in love with widower neighbor Dusty Matlock and his little girl. However, Jessie does not trust relationships so as she loses her sight she flees, but not before the Bennings tell Lila the truth.
HOME BEFORE DARK is an engaging relationship novel that contains a delightful extended cast. Much of the tale focuses on Jessie, yet readers also learn about the other key characters. Although why Jessie felt that Lila had to know the truth is never fully explained, the audience will savor this warm modern day family drama.
Harriet Klausner
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5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful tale beautifully told, April 2 2003
By 
S. Gould "gouldpjaks" (Woodmere, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Home Before Dark (Hardcover)
Anything Susan Wiggs writes is wonderful, but I particularly appreciate her contemporary romances. She so deftly portrays the issues that confront her protagonists that I am compelled to consider the effect that such issues (wether commonplace or unique) might have on myself or those whom I love.
In this story Jessie Ryder, an accomplished photojournalist, returns home to her family after a fifteen year absence when she learns that she is going blind. There she must face the rebellious daughter, Lila, that she gave up to her sister, Luz, at birth and resolve the differences that have grown between herself and the sister she respects and loves. She must also confront her own demons and deal with the fate that she has been dealt.
Wiggs creates a world that is as real as your own and populates it with strong and complicated characters that you will readily embrace. The major issues such as living with the decisions we have made and with the things in life we cannot change that Wiggs addresses are so truthful and well considered that you will think about this book long after you have finished reading.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A charming read about two sisters., Aug. 8 2003
By 
Shannon Grant "shannon" (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Home Before Dark (Hardcover)
Jessie Ryder and Luz Ryder Benning are two sister that could pass as twins but couldn't be more different. Jessie has returned to Texas afte 16 years of travelling abroad leading the photo journalist lifestyle. Luz has remained in Texas marrying and raising four children; three boys that she bore herself and a daughter that Jessie gave up to her sister, Lila.
When Lila was born prematurely it was never thought that she would survive. Jessie walked out of the hospital never to return once she secured her sister and brother-in-law into adopting her child. The adoption has remained a secret for the last sixteen years but Jessie is back and she wants to tell Lila the truth. Why now after 16 years of silence, why is Jessie back? Through into the mix, a hunky widowed neighbour who has taken a liking to Jessie and you have got yourself a great novel about two sisters and finding true love.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A charming read about two sisters., Aug. 8 2003
By 
Shannon Grant "shannon" (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Home Before Dark (Hardcover)
Jessie Ryder and Luz Ryder Benning are two sister that could pass as twins but couldn't be more different. Jessie has returned to Texas afte 16 years of travelling abroad leading the photo journalist lifestyle. Luz has remained in Texas marrying and raising four children; three boys that she bore herself and a daughter, Lila that Jessie gave up to her sister.
When Lila was born prematurely it was never thought that she would survive. Jessie walked out of the hospital never to return once she secured her sister and brother-in-law into adopting her child. The adoption has remained a secret for the last sixteen years but Jessie is back and she wants to tell Lila the truth. Why now after 16 years of silence, why is Jessie back? Throw into the mix, a hunky widowed neighbour who has taken a liking to Jessie and you have got yourself a great novel about two sisters and finding true love.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A page-turning romance, April 24 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Home Before Dark (Hardcover)
Home Before Dark is a romantic story about the difficult choices we face in life and about family reconciliation. Filled with love, joy, and heartache, this is a book that simply cannot be put down.
When faced with impending blindness, Jessie Ryder returns home to her family to get to know the daughter she gave up to her sister. 16 years earlier her sister left college early to adopt Jessie's child, marry and raise a family, giving Jessie the opportunity to fulfill her dream of becoming a photojournalist and traveling all over the world. Each, however, longs for the life of the other-Jessie envious of the secure family life her sister has had while Luz pines for the seemingly exotic and exciting life Jessie has led. Secrets abound, and a tragic accident makes this book a real heartwarming page-turner.
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5.0 out of 5 stars the kind of book you hold against your heart, April 5 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Home Before Dark (Hardcover)
I read this one in just a few sittings and plan to read it again soon. I loved the story of two estranged sisters finding their way back to one another again.
Jessie and Luz share a daughter--one is the biological mother and the other the adoptive mother. The way this impacts their relationships with everyone around them makes for a riveting tale of love, loyalty and emotional poignancy.
There are unexpected moments of humor in this, too, which made the poignant parts even more powerful.
The perfect read! More more more from this author please.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Women's Fiction at its best, June 20 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Home Before Dark (Hardcover)
If you like books by Barbara Delinsky, Kristin Hannah and other contemporary stories that cover more than just romance, you'll love this book. Susan Wiggs creates very human and complex characters and then she writes about love between sisters, family members, men and women. A woman comes home to the family she left behind ten years ago for reasons that become clear as the story unfolds. All the characters grow and change. Nothing is tied up neatly, it's all believable, but it's a very satisfying ending. Worth your time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars fits the bill for the Perfect Read, May 2 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Home Before Dark (Hardcover)
What's a Perfect Read? The sort of book you can sit down with and meet characters who feel as real as your friends. A story so involving that you forget all the crud going on in your life and realize that there are deeper things in life that are wonderful, you discover this in your own life as Jessie, Dustin, Luz, and Ian find out in theirs.
The Perfect Read reminds you to accept your children with all their flaws and to recognize Love when it walks into your life.
Thank you Susan Wiggs for a Perfect Read.
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Home Before Dark
Home Before Dark by Susan Wiggs (Mass Market Paperback - March 1 2004)
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