Re-Read Challenge: “The Return Of Luke McGuire” By Justine Davis

1 Oct


Info:Re-Read Challenge 2009
This month:Re-Read Challenge: September!

Davis, Justine - Return of Luke McGuire
GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Mills & Boon, Silhouette Sensation, 2001

AVAILABILITY: out of print

You always want…

Dark and dangerous Luke McGuire was everything shy Amelia Blair had been fascinated by as a girl but too terrified to go near. And now here she was, the only person in the whole town prepared to give him the time of day, caring enough to stand up for him…brave enough to get close.

What you can’t have

Luke knew that Amelia was off-limits. But, reformed or not, he’d never been able to abide by the rules. He only hoped that the quiet beauty would fall for the man he had become instead of the one he used to be.


The Return of Luke McGuire was the first category novel I ever read. This was back in 2002 and for a long time, this category novel stayed the only one. But I loved it enough and remembered it fondly enough that when I started to read category novels more regularly 1-2 years back, I bought and still buy novels by Davis even though they have a slight romantic suspense bend to it now.


The Return of Luke McGuire is one of those novels where the blurb doesn’t do the story justice. I know, this goes practically for nearly every romance novel, but I always think it especially annoying when 1) it can lead to slightly false assumptions about the story and 2) when the real story is so much more than what you would expect reading the blurb.

Yes, Amelia thinks of herself as quiet and unassuming. A mouse. But she’s determined to be the bravest mouse she could be. And as the story develops, she learns there are different kinds of strength and that perhaps hidden underneath her reserve there is a fire raging that would do her namesake Amelia Earhart justice. And yes, Amelia is drawn to Luke despite herself.

But Luke doesn’t think Amelia off-limits exactly. Sure, it’s present because he’s been the bad boy of the town and Amelia is the goody-goody girl of the town, but it’s not really as important between them as it might seem because of the back blurb. And well, Luke doesn’t see Amelia for the first time and thinks, “wow, but uhm, she’s off-limits.” His attraction is growing slowly and he starts to notice more and more things about her as he gets to know her better. He hesitates, yes, but not because he thinks himself not good enough for her or something like that.

The novel starts when Luke comes back to his home town because he received a letter from his younger brother David asking for help. Before this letter, there wasn’t actually any (real) contact between Luke and David. Luke left his home town the day after he graduated from high school and hasn’t regretted or looked back since then. Now David hopes he can come and live with Luke to escape their controlling and nasty mother, something Luke knows won’t be possible. So he isn’t sure if coming is the right move. Besides, he only has bad memories of the town and is glad he left all the nastiness he faced there behind.

But despite all of this, he does, and that is when he meets Amelia who’s a friend of David and owner of the town’s bookshop. David has acquired a worrisome set of friends trying to set off his mother and live up to his older brother’s bad boy reputation. Amelia and Luke’s concern for David brings them closer together. Without David, Amelia and Luke probably would never have talked to each other, at least not in Luke’s home town where just his being back brings out some of his old reactions to the way people treat him. They assume the worst of him because of his history and he doesn’t bother to show them he’d changed. But there is David. And trying to help David brings Amelia and Luke closer together, makes Amelia discover new things about herself, and makes Luke face his past and deal with it in a way so that he really can leave it all behind.

If there is one thing where this novel falters a bit it’s the way the villains are depicted. David’s nasty friends are up to some very bad things but I thought what they are willing to do in the end, though actually believable, still a bit out of nowhere. But more than that, I thought the people’s antagonism towards Luke slightly overdone. He did some cruel and bad things in his youth, yes, but that was nearly ten years ago. When he comes back, nobody (except Amelia of course) gives him the benefit of the doubt, they just assume the worst. Even more, they go and outright say it to him. I don’t know, I just thought that really rude and intolerant, and that everyone was like that was just a bit hard to believe. (To be fair, there is some change at the end with some people, but still.)

But that is just a very small complaint. The Return of Luke McGuire offers more than enough to make up for it. There’s the believable and slowly developing romance between two people who look like they have nothing in common and only meet because of special circumstances, Amelia and Luke. There’s the relationship between the brothers Luke and David that starts out with Luke as David’s hero for all the wrong reasons and that needs to adjust as the story and characters develop. There’s David’s struggle with growing up and finding his own way. There’s Luke’s struggle with his past and what his mother did to him (IMO the most important thread of the story). And there’s Amelia who makes all this possible and who discovers that maybe she was wrong to think of herself as a mouse.

Verdict: Despite my disbelief about the total rudeness of all people, 5/5.


10 Responses to “Re-Read Challenge: “The Return Of Luke McGuire” By Justine Davis”

  1. nath Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 6:44 pm #

    There’s always something special about first books, right? πŸ™‚

    Sounds very cute, too bad it’s out of print… and the cover, hmmmm. I’m glad though you still enjoyed it as much… and seriously, people can be very, very rude. You might find it unbelievable, but I wouldn’t put it past reality.

  2. Leslie Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 10:20 pm #

    Lovely review Taja. πŸ™‚ This sounds like one to add to my UBS list.

  3. Taja Friday, October 2, 2009 at 9:13 am #

    nath – I’m sure I’m more subjective than usual because it was my first category. πŸ™‚ But it is a very cute book although it’s not sweet. Despite the cover. *g*

    Rudeness – oh, you’re right. There’s not a lot that can surprise me there actually. But a whole town still hang up on the wrongs one teenager did? They all might think he is still the same, sure, but it seemed they all also had no trouble voicing that opinion aloud. I thought that a bit out of proportion but it helped the conflict. And anyway, it’s just a small blip compared that all the other good things.

    Thanks for your opinion. πŸ™‚

  4. Taja Friday, October 2, 2009 at 9:17 am #

    Leslie – thank you! BTW, if you go looking for it, the pink cover is the UK edition, the US edition looks different. If you can find the book I would definitely say buy it. πŸ™‚

  5. nath Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 4:47 am #

    Hey Taja,

    I sent you an email, but I’m not sure it went through ^_^;

    Hmmm, this might be a stupid question, but I saw your email address in the about page and is it or really@googlemail.comtrong

  6. Taja Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 3:26 pm #


    1. Your email went through!

    2. OMG! You’re right, this “comtrong” thingie is of course wrong. It looks like a mangled bit of HTML code (“strong”). I cringe when I think about how long this has been up. *blushblushblush* I don’t remember when I last edited that page.

    3. How brave of you that you still send the email. Thanks you! πŸ™‚

    *off to edit*

  7. KristieJ Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 8:29 pm #

    I don’t know what happened with this author!! It was like she disappeared for a while and when she came back someone else inhabited her body. For a long while she was an autobuy author – I LOVED both her MM and series books. But I haven’t read her in quite some time as something vital is missing.
    The Return of Luke McGuire was the last book she wrote before the pod people came and took her away. Anything written as of this book and before I highly recommend anything after – not. This one was a very good one for me too.

  8. Taja Monday, October 5, 2009 at 9:30 am #

    KristieJ – I’m so glad I bought this one back then. It’s one of my favorite comfort reads.

    She has a couple of older MM books I would love to read, too. Actually, now more so than ever because you said you think her style changed and with all the books you’ve read by her you would know. I also thought her newer ones different but I just assumed they (the 2-3 I read) seemed different because they were more romantic suspense (and I’m not really into that). Still nice but… Oh well, maybe one day I get my hands on one of her older books! πŸ™‚

  9. KristieJ Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 1:27 am #

    Taja: Nope – it was the pod people that took her. Her older books are excellent – and she wrote a couple of angel books way before the time!!
    Her MM books were really different. She wrote a couple of Futuristics, Lord of the Storm and Sky Pirate (which has my favourite hero name of all time – Dax Silverbrake – say it out loud – it’s real fun to say) which are excellent. And then she wrote another intriguing series about a mysterious book that follows the hero. One is a contemporary, one a Western and one a Medieval. I highly recommend any or all of them too.

  10. Taja Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 9:18 am #

    KristieJ – you don’t make it any easier, Kristie! When I said I wanted to read a couple of her MM books I especially thought of Lord of the Storm and Sky Pirate (*g* about the hero’s name) but the others sound interesting as well.

    BTW, I like your expression (and explanation!) “the pod people took her.” πŸ˜€

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