After That Night

That Man Matthews

The Daughter Dilemma
by Ann Evans
(Harl. Super Rom. #1215, $5.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-71215-4
>This new series entitled Heart of the Rockies opens with a well written and fun love story that is also about dealing with your past, your parents, the importance of family and reaching out for what you want. The Daughter Dilemma is a misleading title on the one hand, but highlights the soul-searching the heroine must do to be able to grasp love.

Kari Churchill is the daughter of famed novelist Madison Churchill. Madison is one of those authors that must research everything for his story and to do so, he left his wife and daughter alone a great portion of each year. While Kari loved him, there is a lot of emotion she hasn’t dealt with. Two years after his death in a mountain pass in Colorado, and six months following her mother’s death, Kari decides she needs to see where he died, and search for his lost journal. Her life is much like his – she is a journalist who travels all over to get her story. She is certain she needs the adventure to feel closer to him and to really feel alive.

Kari comes to Colorado and seeks the services of Angel Air, a helicopter tour company that she hopes will take her to remote Elk Creek Canyon, the last place her father was known to be alive. What she runs into is Nick D’Angelo. Nick is a divorced father of a fourteen-year-old, Tessa, who is the other daughter referred to in the title. She and Nick have not been getting along, as her efforts at growing up are running headlong into Nick’s insistence that she is still a little girl. Nick, an ex-army helicopter pilot, has been helping to run the family business, Lightning River Lodge, and keep the family from falling apart ever since his father had a series of strokes a few years ago. The tour company is something he started to add to their income.

When Kari arrives at the heliport, Nick refuses to take Kari because she is late for her tour and it is almost closing time. His sister, Addy, offers to take her up. But Nick is the protector of the family and doesn’t feel Addy is ready to head out on her own, despite the fact that she has her pilot’s license. He tells them both no. Once he leaves, Addy defies him and they head out, only to crash land following a lightning strike. Kari is basically unhurt, but Addy suffers one broken arm and one badly bruised wrist. Kari is talked into staying at the lodge and taking Addy’s place.

Kari and Nick start off as adversaries and fight all the time. The rest of the family, including Nick’s parents and two aunts that live and work at the lodge, find that they like Kari right away and begin to play matchmaker. As Nick and Kari are thrown into more and more situations, they start to feel a pull for each other and love is on the way. But they have lots of obstacles to overcome. Kari must come to grips with her father and what happened to him. Nick must deal with his past. Tessa’s story is an added element to the story as she confronts her dad and learns to grow up a little, but is really just one of many pieces.

While this is a romance and has a very nice happy ever after, the real story is the discoveries these characters make about themselves as their relationship grows. Kari and Nick find themselves in situations which they are new to, and choose to open up their vulnerabilities in order to grow. The pace is clearly moved along on the strength of these discoveries and revelations. They are each strong characters on their own, and complement each other when together.

Addy is a good secondary character, offering sisterly advice to Nick and throwing a guilt trip at Kari to help keep her there. The D’Angelos, Sam and Rose, are clearly Italian parents of the best kind. They have built a home and their love for each other has been shared with their children. There is also a brother who is referred to a few times who has left home in a rebellion. He is the black sheep and will probably have his own story in the series.

In The Daughter Dilemma, Ann Evans includes just the right amount of sentiment within the engaging character study that is the best part of this story.

--Shirley Lyons

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