His-and-Hers Family
by Helen Lacey
(Harl. Spec. Ed. #2238, $5.25, PG) ISBN 978-0373-65720-9
****
I found a perfect way to enter the romantic month of February? Helen Lacey, who is a new author to me, has written her third book about Crystal Point; if this one is indicative of her style, I may just have to hunt up the other two.

His-and-Hers Family involves two strong characters and their story grabs you from the start. Fiona Walsh is a fiery redhead who has overcome amazing obstacles to finally build her life with friends and a job she loves. Fiona was raised by a woman who was a “buckle bunny,” always looking for the next cowboy who would take her away. She did drugs and dragged her daughter all over from motel to motel. Because of this, Fiona never had real friends and rarely stayed in one school longer than a year.

Fiona was also raped by one of the “boyfriends” when she was fifteen and when her pregnancy was discovered, she was dumped at a great-uncle’s house, where she had the baby and gave it up for a closed adoption. Shortly thereafter, her mother and boyfriend were killed in an accident. Fiona has been in Crystal Point for several years, the longest she has stayed in any one spot. She is a teacher and has built some strong bonds with several women. Her love life has been a loss, with things never ending with anything but “friendship.”

Wyatt Harper shows up on Fiona’s doorstep asking if she would like to meet his niece who is her 14 year old Cecily. Wyatt is now Cecily’s guardian because her loving parents were killed in an accident and when Cecily asked to try to find her birth mother, he couldn’t refuse. He is very wary, having been engaged to a woman he found sleeping with another man. He blames himself for the havoc she perpetrated on his family (which is revealed as the story unfolds) and while he finds himself attracted to Fiona, he no longer trusts his instincts.

Fiona and Cecily hit it off immediately and Fiona is so grateful to have the opportunity to build a relationship with the daughter she lost. She too is amazingly attracted to Wyatt but is so scared that whatever is between them will ultimately hurt her relationship with Cecily and that is her priority. The two circle around and even after they succumb to their intense feelings, neither can just accept what they feel. Watching them figure things out is entertaining and keeps the book moving to a more than acceptable happy ending.

The story has just the right amount of sentiment tossed in with some hot attraction and sensible interactions. Cecily is a teenager who is wise beyond her years at times, but is pure teen at others. His-and-Hers Family hits the spot on many levels.

--Shirley Lyons


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