Homeward Bound

Ryanís Renovation
by Marin Thomas
(Harl. American #1175, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-751796
Ryanís Renovation is the third story in a series about men who were affected by 9/11. This is handled with a good flair and makes for an enjoyable story, despite the pulling of the heartstrings. It does stand alone, although my sense is it would have been better with the background of the previous two installments.

Ryan McKade is a millionaire who operates the Eastern operations of McKade Import/Exports. His two brothers divide the rest of the country and operate their divisions. They have a grandfather, Patrick, who has decided to meddle in their lives before he dies. He already has the other two, Nelson and Aaron married off. Now it is Ryanís turn. But Ryan is a difficult case. He was in one of the towers on 9/11 and was injured saving a woman who was trapped. They both survived, but Ryan was badly burned on his back and arm. He never appreciated how the woman felt and rejected all efforts of her and her family to thank him. During his recovery, his wife rejected him because of his scars and then she miscarried their child. Ryan blames himself and has literally withdrawn from the world. He lives in midtown Manhattan in a high rise with only his bed as furniture. He is as non-social as a person can be and still be living.

Ryanís grandfather somehow convinces him that he has to go to work for a construction/demolition/recovery company called Parnell and Sons in Queens. If he can hold out for a year, he gets his inheritance. This is Grandfather Patrickís attempt to get Ryan back into the world. So Ryan starts work as Ryan Jones.

Parnellís is owned by Bobby Parnell. It is basically run by the administrative everything Anastazia Nowakowski or Anna for short. She is a fireball who has a pile of past hurts herself. She was orphaned at age four and lived in a series of foster homes. She forced herself to be happy and energetic so the families would like her. At fourteen, she ended up pregnant and in a home for unwed mothers, where she gave up her daughter for adoption. Her apartment is filled with pictures of strangers who make up her pretend family. Her family in reality consists of a gay man roommate and the men who work for Parnell Brothers.

Anna and Ryan create sparks from their first meeting. The story follows them as they try to figure out life and their feelings. When there is a threat to the company, they are thrown together and sparks donít just fly, they come to life.

Ryan is a classic tortured hero and spends a great deal of time feeling sorry for his circumstances and his past. He is lucky to have a persistent grandfather, because most people would not put up with his lack of responses. Anna prompts things from him that he hasnít felt in a long time and while he is slow to like, he is easy to warm up to once the story takes off.

Anna, meanwhile is the opposite. She is almost too cheery given all that life has thrown at her. But she has spunk and stands up to Ryan like a woman should. She is awfully self-sacrificing but the author gives her some grounding with Ryan and while at times she lets the other guys walk on her, she doesnít with Ryan.

The story starts very slowly and without the background, there were many things that I felt didnít fit together well. Some of the answers never really came. But once the story picked up and there were some reasons for true interaction, then the pace picked up and so did my reading interest.

Ryanís Renovation is about second chances. Donít give up on the beginning and you will agree that the author came through.

--Shirley Lyons

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