Author: Bethanne Strasser
Genre: Contemporary Romance
My Copy: ARC via Entangled Publishing
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis: An Army doctor, Lena Rodriguez has always been too busy with school or the Army for romance. But the letters she received during deployment have captured her heart. Back home for the holidays, she awaits Christmas morning to meet the man who has turned her life upside down.
When Zack Benson watched his best friend’s sister Lena leave for Afghanistan, he knew he had to tell her he loved her. So he sent her anonymous love letters. Now that she’s home, he realizes he’s made a tactical error. Lena has fallen for the man in those letters but still thinks of him as a brother. He has to convince her otherwise because if he succeeds, he’ll get the best Christmas present ever. But if he fails, he could lose her for good.
I’m a big fan of unrequited love and when I came across the synopsis to Bethany Strasser’s Letters from Home, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to review it.
Character development is difficult in a novella because you’re limited with what you can do and Stasser gives us strong characters. Lena is a doctor in the United States Army and likes to keep busy. She can come off a little too strong and at times I didn’t like her, but it’s easy to understand why she acts the way she does. Then we have Zack who missed his opportunity to tell Lena how feels! I liked Zack and he’s honorable. He’s had to make some tough decisions, but he’s made them and is ready to move on with his life. We have a variety of secondary characters who play a role include Lena’s family. I liked her family and I really enjoyed how Strasser incorporated them into the narrative.
While I liked Strasser’s Letters from Home, I was never shown why Lena was special. Why did Zack carry a torch for her all these years? We’re told they’ve been friends since Zack moved into the area and grew up with her brother, but we aren’t given any details regarding their friendship growing up other than Lena’s family accepted him. I would have liked that because it would have added a little more depth to their relationship. Also, we’re told they couldn’t be together because Zack is considered family. I can understand the hesitation especially since everyone knows Zack, but if he was okay to hang out with then surely he’d be okay for Lena to date? As for the premise, it’s cute and old fashioned regarding courting someone via letters. I just have to wonder how Zack really went about it. I mean Strasser does explain how the letters were set up, etc, but how much did Zack disguise of their history in those letters to Lena? Could she not have recognized the handwriting? These questions kept popping up and wouldn’t let go. Maybe in the end, Lena did know it was Zack, but didn’t want to believe it was him.
I don’t want to give spoilers, but my favorite two scenes involved both Zack and Lena. I loved the homecoming party her family gives her. Lena zeros in on a possible suspect for the letters and really liked Zack’s reaction when he realizes who it is. Then of course, the scene when Lena realizes who sent her the letters had me cheering.
Overall, Letters from Home is a cute novella. I can easily see this being adapted for TV and maybe shown during the holidays. If you’re looking for a heartfelt romance, then Bethanne Strasser’s Letters from Home is something you’ll want to look at.