J.T. Conway gets what might seem to be a really pleasant fantasy fulfilled -- he is about to spend six months in a remote bed-and-breakfast in the mountains of Colorado doing nothing but writing and getting to know the lovely hostess of the Alpine Rose. The two of them are going to be the only occupants of the large Victorian house for the winter while J.T. writes a novel about mining towns.
But that scenario is partially a fantasy concocted by J.T. He wants to write, yes, but he also has an ulterior motive for getting to know Kate Mahoney, the Alpine Roseís owner. She is his link to finding one of his long-lost siblings. She has a mysterious adopted brother, Zach, who visits her from time to time. J.T. thinks that Zach may be the brother he is looking for.
Kateís life isnít really much of a pleasant fantasy, either. She is willing to house J.T. when she ordinarily closes down for the winter because she may need the money heíll provide for future emergencies. She has plenty of problems already. The people in the small town she lives near hate her and her brother. Although theyíve never been charged with any crime, their stepfather cheated the townís occupants of huge amounts of money and the townspeople are convinced Kate and Zach know where the hidden money is. Kate is determined to stay in her hometown, no matter how cruel anyone is to her, and she refuses to allow the town to shame her.
As events unfold, Kateís pride and J.T.ís secrecy prove to be barriers to their romance. I had some problems with both -- particularly J.T.ís refusal to tell Kate his real reasons for staying around. Even though he comes to recognize he was wrong, that realization takes a very long time.
I had even more problems believing the entire town would refuse to even consider that maybe the stepfather, a minister and con artist, had fooled them yet again when he insisted the Mahoneys were in on his scheme. Why wouldnít they at least wonder why they should believe a convicted thief over two kids they had known all their lives? Their collective enmity makes Kateís life miserable because no one lets up making her unwelcome for four years. Wow.
J.T.ís desire to clear Kateís reputation soon becomes more important to him than his desire to find his brother. The hidden money, the search for his sibling - - there is a nice bit where he suddenly realizes, to his horror, that Kate might be his sister -- all combine, but not always easily. There is just too much to be resolved for everything to fit together comfortably.
The elements are interesting, but donít always work together as a whole. The book is also a definite sequel and, since I didnít read the first of the series, that was a bit annoying. There is a whole other story about the first sibling that gets recapped and jammed in this one too.
The writing is good, the characters have some interesting moments together and as characters. But itís hard to be a bridge between two other books. I didnít finish and immediately think I was dying to read the first book. I donít much care if I read Zachís story, either. Thatís bad when youíre that poor middle book in a trilogy. You wonít feel like you wasted your time if you read this one. But you wonít feel too bad if you give it a miss, either.
--Irene D. Williams