Finding Justice
by Rachel Brimbleem>
(Harl. Super #1835, $5.50, PG) ISBN 978-0373-71835-1
Rachel Brimble is a new author for Superromance with an engaging voice and a nice writing style. She shows a lot of promise and is an author to keep an eye on. However, her debut didn't hit on all cylinders for me.

Sergeant Catherine (Cat) Forrester works for the Reading Police Department in England and has a good reputation. Unfortunately, her personal life is a bit of a mess. Her mother is an alcoholic and has been getting worse since an accident where Cat's father died. Much of Cat's time away from work is picking her mother up on the floor, literally, and trying to keep her from being a bigger embarrassment. Cat's brother is not supportive, as he has his own life and thinks they should put the woman in rehab. Cat's guilt won't let that happen.

Cat is asked by an old friend, Jay Garrett, to come to Templeton Cove and help clear him of the suspicion of murdering their best friend Sarah. Cat visited Templeton Cove every summer for years when they were kids and the three were inseparable. They lost touch when Cat's family stopped going but not before Jay and Cat had spent a wonderful night together.

In the intervening years, Cat's father died, her mother became an alcoholic and in Templeton Cove, Jay became a cocaine addict while Sarah became a school teacher. Jay and Sarah tried to remain friends for a period of time, but Jay's addiction ruined that. Now four years clean, Jay and Sarah had still not fully reconnected. Sarah's body was found on the edge of Jay's property and his past and rumors about her recent involvement in drug money have fueled all the persistent concerns that Jay is the killer.

This is a convoluted story filled with personal angst and the persistence of two people to put aside their mistakes while trying to re-establish a lost love in the middle of a murder investigation that takes many twists and turns. There were some touching moments and Jay and Cat do work at their relationship while battling their demons. The investigation is one of stops and starts and ultimately ends with the killer in jail. But the how is the problem.

Cat comes to another town and convinces Inspector Bennett to let her in on his case. She doesn't always act like a competent detective. She walks into a situation where she wants to confront the suspected killer and never notifies other authorities or her boss, even though she states that is what she should do. But the biggest issue with the story is the prolonged angst of the two main characters. Jay and Cat are miserable people, filled with blame, guilt and a lot of self-pity. They are difficult to like and therefore, difficult to root for in their romantic relationship. There was little to show why they loved each other now; most of their feelings seemed to be leftover from seven years before. That was hard to believe with all that had happened in between and with what they were dealing with now.

Finding Justice had moments when the story was engaging. It had moments when Cat and Jay were good together. But the other moments far outweighed those. Rachel Brimble has lots of energy in her writing and the prospect of her getting better shines through. I will try her again to see if she can make those strides.

--Shirley Lyons

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