The Major Comes to Texas

Family At Last
by K.N. Casper
(Harl. Super. #1292, $5.50, G) ISBN 0373-71292-8
Family At Last is a tale full of heartrending emotions. Yet the author maintains some dignity with it while giving us a compelling story of Russia then and now.

Nina Lockhart left Russia at age eighteen as essentially a bartered bride. She married an older American businessman to get out of Russia just before the breakdown of the Communist regime. Her father had been arrested and executed and her mother feared for Nina’s safety. She got Nina out, but stayed herself.

Nina now lives in the US as a citizen, spending her time as a translator in one of the many languages she knows. She is enlisted to come to Misty Hollow, North Carolina to help with a young boy of seven who has been adopted by Jarrod Morrison. Jarrod is a single entrepreneur who has made his money trading stocks and managing portfolios. He wanted children, but just couldn’t find the right woman to share his life with. He decided to adopt Sasha from an orphanage in Russia. Unfortunately, Sasha is having some difficulty adjusting. One problem is his language barrier, causing some behavior issues at school.

The primary story follows Sasha’s progress as Jarrod and Nina work together to help him. Additional storylines are introduced as Jarrod discovers that Sasha has an older sister who lives in an orphanage in Russia. When he wants to travel to Russia and insists Nina accompany him and Sasha, all her old fears and demons from the past arise. And of course, within this tale is the growing attraction between Jarrod and Nina.

This story has many twists and turns. It is engaging to watch Sasha blossom with the love of a family. Jarrod is learning to be a father and Nina fits easily into their life. Yet there is the realization that she is just temporary, which adds to the strain.

Jarrod is a good man, with others’ welfare at the heart of his life. He and Nina hit it off and yet both are mature enough not to jump into bed just because they feel lust. This story spans many months, making their gradual increase in feelings realistic and more compelling.

There is insight into the Russia of the past as one compares Nina’s experience living within the political party to Sasha’s experience. There is insight into Russia today when they travel to Russia. This enriches the story and deepens the understanding of the various characters.

While this story has enough depth to emotionally engage the reader, there are scenes that seem designed just to build poignancy. There is a scene where Anna (Sasha’s sister) meets them. She is not allowed to know who they are, yet accepts them and seems to be openly loving toward them. This is despite growing up entirely in orphanages which are presented as horrible places to live and institutional to the extreme. This makes it doubly hard for Jarrod to leave her, knowing he cannot take her out.

Family At Last is one of those stories that stick with you because of the depth of the characters, the settings and the compelling plot line. It is well worth a strong recommendation.

--Shirley Lyons

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