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Clay Yeager's Redemption
by Justine Davis
(Silh. Int. Mom. #926, $4.25, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-07926-5
****
I must guiltily admit that I have not read all of Justine Davis' Trinity Street West series. But even one who is only partially familiar with the series is well aware of the mystique of Clay Yeager, the policeman who was an inspiration to all of his colleagues but who completely disappeared after an unbearable family tragedy. So it was with considerable anticipation that I picked up Davis' latest SIM; at last we would find out what happened to Clay and he would finally get his happy ending. I was not disappointed.

Casey Scott had fled back to her hometown in Iowa after something dreadful happened to her in Chicago. She has painstakingly recreated a life for herself on the peaceful farm her aunt left her. She has built up a nice catering business and found a measure of peace. But this peace has been threatened by obscene phone calls that leave her on edge. And her solitary life is likewise ended when a cheeky border collie steals the prime rib meant for the Historical Society ladies' luncheon.

Chasing after the thief, Casey discovers his master, a loner who had parked his truck on her property for the night. Despite his gaunt features and his somewhat disreputable appearance, Casey discovers that she isn't afraid of the trespasser. When he offers to work off the cost of the now ruined roast, Casey accepts. In fact, she offers him a job as a handyman since her house and grounds need a lot of work.

The man, of course, is Clay Yeager. For five years, he has wandered the country with only his dog Mud for company. He has picked up an odd job here and there, but often he has gone hungry. His eyes are dead because inside he feels dead. He is punishing himself for what he views as his failure to prevent the tragedy that cost his daughter her life.

This is a story of two wounded people who come together and heal each other. Davis does not suggest that the healing is easy or quick. Each must learn to trust and feel again. Indeed, the gradual unfolding of the painful events in each's past is handled with great skill.

Casey is just what Clay needs. Her bravery in facing her own particular demons and her generosity of spirit force him to look more closely at the events which so overpowered him and which drove him to flee life and love. Yet Clay's pain is so palpable that, while we pity him, we understand why he was led to flee life and why it is so hard for him to accept the thought that he might once again deserve to be happy.

A threat to the woman he has come to love finally forces Clay to reclaim the life that he thought was lost forever.

Clay Yeager's Redemption is a fitting finale to the Trinity Street West series. Davis writes some of the most compelling short romances that I have ever read. Now, I have to dig through my to-be-read pile and find the books in the series I didn't get around to reading. It will be a pleasure.

--Jean Mason


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