Blood Kin
by Judith E. French
(Love Spell, $6.99, PG) ISBN 0-505-52685-9
Growing up adopted Bailey Elliott has never known any of her biological family. When she's left an estate by her biological aunt, Bailey decides to go in search of her mother and father.

The search for her past has brought Bailey to Tawes Island in the Chesapeake Bay. Tawes Island is an isolated community accessed only by ferry. On the island there are no automobiles, no hotels, no restaurants, no cell phone service, no police force, and land telephone lines that are down half of the time. (They don't ever mention a bookstore on the island either, so I don't understand why people live there.)

The residents of Tawes Island are a tight-knit community who are quite antagonistic to outsiders. The people of the island are especially hostile to Bailey. Bailey's mother died a few months after her birth. The town doesn't know who the father is. No one wants the truth of what happened to Bailey's mother to be dredged up. But Bailey is determined to figure out what happened despite all the warning from others to leave. Can she find out what the big scandal was?

Bailey is a hard character to feel for. She's not a bad person or even unlikable. She's just blah. She's an elementary school teacher who hasn't done much with her life. The only aspect of Bailey that is worthy of note is her stupidity towards her ex-husband. They got divorced because of his compulsive gambling. In the divorce she got all the debt and is still paying off her ex-husband's credit card. However, for whatever foolish reason, she considers him her best friend. Woman who willingly put up with a poor choice of men make difficult characters to sympathize with.

The townsfolk are so grumpy it's laughable. The author went a little overboard in the unwelcome wagon department. Additionally, the whole island seems to live in denial. If they deny there was a scandal, then Bailey will just go away.

There is very little suspense in Blood Kin. The majority of the book is Bailey trying to get to know the townsfolk and asking questions about her mother. It's not until the end that any suspense is even attempted. The ending is a bit appalling which left a bad taste for me.

I recommend passing on this one.

--Terry Lawrence

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