The Truth About Plain Jane

Family By Design
by Roxanne Delaney
(Harl. Ameriocan #1194, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-75198-2
While enjoyable, Family By Design is predictable with basic category issues – a divorced mother barely making it; an old boyfriend suddenly back in the picture and a secret that will lead to misunderstandings when it is discovered.

Despite growing up rich and feeling privileged, Becca Tyler is the divorced mother of three and her ex-husband is total scum who won’t even help her really support the children. Consequently, Becca is living in a rented house that has “issues,” needs a job but is struggling to find one and has no real prospects for the future. Just when she thinks it couldn’t get worse, her car has a flat and she gets notice that the new owner of her house is evicting her.

Nick is one of the working class Morelli’s, and he has come home to Katyville Kansas to expand his contractor’s business and be closer to family. His old girlfriend, Becca, is here but he figures he has to be over the hurt he suffered when she dumped him unexpectedly after promising him she was in love with him. He also has purchased an old home that he plans to renovate once the renter is gone.

So Nick discovers that Becca is the renter; that she has three small children and by evicting her, he is causing her heartache and worry. He feels guilty, so he offers her a job as a receptionist on his construction site. He figures she can make a good living and this will help her find a place to move. What he doesn’t count on are the old feelings coming back so strong.

Becca, meanwhile, finds herself still attracted to Nick and takes the job due to her desperation. She also feels guilty because of the way she and Nick parted. Becca’s father forced her to dump him (using the old I will ruin the family if you don’t criteria) and she still has feelings too.

The stage is set. Of course, Nick falls in love with the three kids and finds he is often distracted with Becca in his face every day. He delays the eviction, and knows that when she finds out he is the man causing her nights of worry, that she will not take it kindly. He is hoping that she will see things differently once she has a new place.

Nick’s family and the other cast members are traditional small town wonderful people that everyone has to love. Becca’s reactions are typical and most of the scenarios were easily predicted and played out just like expected, including the misunderstanding.

This story was entertaining, even though it broke no new ground and resorted to many clichés. While this is comforting on the one hand, it is also hard to get excited about as a reader. Family By Design is an average tale that won’t really disappoint, but won’t have you jumping for joy either.

--Shirley Lyons

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