Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Hummingbird Lane by Carolyn Brown
Published by Montlake Romance on April 6, 2021
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Ever since childhood, Emma Merrill and Sophia Mason were bound by a passion for painting. Like all young best friends, they promised to never lose touch. But the girls came from different worlds, and their paths diverged when Emma went to an elite college and Sophie worked her way through state school.
After a decade they’ve reconnected, both in a time of need. Emma has been struggling with depression since her college years, and she’s lost herself under the suffocating influence of her controlling and manipulative mother. Sophie, under pressure to prepare for an upcoming gallery show, whisks the fragile Emma away to a small artist’s colony in south Texas. It’s a raw and beautiful landscape where wildflowers bloom—and perhaps Emma can bloom there, too. In the company of such nurturing and creative strangers—especially Josh Corlen, the openhearted manager of the commune—Emma allows herself to breathe again.
For Sophie and Emma, it’s the perfect place for reflection and to finally share the secret burdens each has carried. Most of all it’s a chance to rediscover their true selves and to make good on the old promise that their friendship would last forever.
Secret pain might have left a woman on the brink of sanity, but a shared deep-in-the-soul friendship and her art has the strength to restore color and vitality to her life. The country charm and easy connections of her characters make this author’s books comfy reads that take the reader to a good place.
Leaving the ranching world behind, Carolyn Brown takes this book to a small trailer park in the gorgeous Big Bend area and among artists who have different mediums, but allow the closeness to nature around their isolated location to influence them. Sophie and Emma are best buds from childhood, but they are reuniting after years of being separated. Emma has repressed memories, but Sophie knows full well what bruised her spirit years ago. They help each other face their own demons with one being strong when the other is weak and vice versa. They share the narration of the story and I enjoyed both of them as main characters.
But, the friendship of the women expands to include the two older neighbors, Arty and Filly, and young shy owner of the property, Josh. They are beautiful, warm, simple-living people who help both women heal. The story is gently-paced and is about healing and facing the past so they don’t miss the happiness waiting for them in the present. Sophie seems to lead a charmed life with a vivacious supporting single mom, Rebel, her successful world-renowned art career, and a deeply satisfying relationship with a man who gets her while Emma’s world has been stark and miserable with a domineering mother and a dad who was also bullied by her mother and then she faced a painful event that her mind blocked out until Sophie gets her away where she can quietly heal. I appreciated how the author didn’t make the healing seem like some sort of miracle and Emma has much to work out with therapy even after her big breakthrough. But, after Emma’s life starts to come together, that is when Sophie’s demons pop up.
It was their friendship that was the key, though they both had strong supporting men and friends to support them. Josh was shy and awkward, but just the sort of man Emma needed after what she’d been through and Sophie’s Teddy didn’t let her down when she started to struggle.
I enjoyed the focus on art, but also the location of desert beauty that inspired the art. And, man oh man do I want to live on Hummingbird Lane so I can enjoy Arty and Filly’s nightly dinner and dessert offerings at the community picnic table.
All in all, it was heartwarming and simply charming with friendship, healing, and a bit of romance. Perhaps it was a little far-fetched, but in a wonderful, dreamy way that one wishes the world worked. Those who enjoy gently-paced, low-angst women’s fiction should grab this one up.