Carry Me Home (Paradise, Idaho) by Rosalind James
Overall Rating: 4 (sXe)
Zoe Santangelo is a character I feel a connection to, primarily because I understand the stress of trying to make it in academia. I don’t have first-hand knowledge, but it is something that I have thought a lot about and so I understand how hard it is to let the Ivy League dream go.
Zoe gets her first tenure-track position in Paradise, Idaho, but she quickly becomes the target of a serial rapist after defending one of her students. Cal Jackson happens to be in the right place at the right time to help Zoe and quickly finds someone he thinks might be worth trying romance again. But Zoe is prickly, and Cal has to work hard to overcome her childhood barriers to jocks. As Cal gets to know Zoe better, he realizes that she may need more help than he originally guessed.
This romantic suspense is a good read with strong characters and thrilling scenes. There are two strong suspects as the serial rapist and I love that the clues are woven throughout the story. Zoe is such a crusader for women’s safety on college campuses and I love that the author takes on such an important subject. There are a lot of subtleties to this issue and many of them are acknowledged: the seemingly lack of consequences for men who commit sexual assault; the pressure on women to transfer after being the victims of sexual assault because the campus community doubts their experiences; and the inability to police to protect women who trust their instincts and report threatening behavior.
But what I really loved about this novel was the character development. Cal’s history has given him insight into the lesson Zoe learns throughout her relationship with Cal. Cal had his dream of playing pro ball taken away and had to find a new dream. Zoe doesn’t have her dream taken away, but she has to question what, exactly, her dream really is rather than taking it for granted. Growing up in an academic family, her definition of professional success was given to her, but throughout the novel she has to reevaluate her preconceived notions about her goals. She also has to overcome high school and college stereotypes of what a jock does and what a geek does. That added such a nice depth to the novel because of the previously mentioned issues with sexual assault. It all interconnects and builds on itself in a great way.
Good news: the next Paradise, Idaho novel will be released in December 2015. So if you liked this novel like I did, you have something to look forward to before the holiday rush.